Over 100 sporting bodies have called upon the UK government for emergency funding to help overcome the difficulties COVID-19 continue to present. Leaders from the respective sporting bodies are concerned of a “lost generation of activity”.
Sports bodies such as the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the Premier League and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have united together to form a letter addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson pleading for the government to issue a “sport recovery fund” in the effort to “survive and stabilise” the sport industry.
Since lockdown measures were lifted, in England the vast amount of sport has been held behind-closed-doors limiting the amount of staff required to host events. The likes of the FA Cup final at Wembley, Formula 1 races at Silverstone and Premier League fixtures around the country have all gone ahead without fans limiting venues from generating significant revenue.
The UK government have faced scrutiny following their decision before lockdown to continue with events such as the Champions League fixture between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid as well as the Cheltenham Festival. Though, defend their decision as restrictions on mass gatherings were not introduced. However, those events have been highlighted as the governments lack of responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID19.
A letter written by organisations such as, the Football Association (FA), Gymshark and England Golf said: "We require a comprehensive support package for the sport and physical sector to aid its recovery. This package must combine investment, tax incentives, and regulatory reform.
"COVID-19 has undermined our commercial revenue streams with both stadiums and leisure facilities closed or greatly reduced in capacity. The impact of this will potentially lead to a lost generation of sport and activity.
"We are particularly concerned about the impact on those whose participation has been limited during the pandemic. Physical activity levels, especially in the most vulnerable groups, are significantly below where they were tracking pre-COVID-19."
A range of organisations have announced job losses as clubs and venues are unable to generate any sort of revenue without fans. Many believe more needs to be done by the government to help the physical and mental wellbeing of the public as lockdown has had a gruelling impact, while at the same time those behind-the-scenes would like some sort of certainty about the future.
To have a significant impact on the public, the operations of sport organisations is heavily influenced by the financial support the government provide as the letter adds, "Our sector will be at the forefront of your plans to improve the health and wellbeing of all communities…to solving societal issues…including reducing health inequalities, tackling obesity, cutting crime, easing loneliness, and enhancing social cohesion.”
Johnson’s government have asked for an assessment of the financial impact having no fans at events will have to give a greater understanding enabling the government the ability to provide the necessary support. Leaders who signed the letter claim they cannot be ignored as the letter includes the contribution the sport industry has on the UK economy contributing over £16 billion and providing 600,000 jobs.
Tracey Crouch, former sports minister, has said, "This is about the whole ecosystem that supports sport, fitness and leisure and, if we're not careful, historic clubs and the jobs that support them will be lost, potentially for good.”
However, the suffering continues as the government have announced the plan for fans to return has been 'paused' due to a rise in coronavirus cases. The planned return of fans from October 1 and use of pilot events with a maximum of 1,000 people will now no longer go ahead according to Michael Gove.
The COVID-19 alert level has increased to four in the UK causing the government to make such a decision causing more frustration and agony among the industry. Without specific dates and clarity on proceedings, organisations are unable to plan due to the uncertainty causing them to encounter further losses.
Football League clubs in England estimate to face a £200 million loss after experiencing a £50 million loss last season as a result of hosting no fans. Similarly, the RFU have prepared for a £50 million revenue loss as the men’s squad have taken a pay cut of 25% for the following 12 months to help combat the loss in revenue.
Author: James Parker