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Sports Winter Survival Package

The UK government have just announced that they will be providing emergency funding of £300 million to 11 sports that have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. These sports have suffered as a result of continued absence of fans from venues which have been closed off since March this year.

The Sports Winter Survival Package, which will be largely composed of low-interest loans, will support rugby union, horse racing, women's football and the lower tiers of the National League. Rugby Union will be receiving the greatest amount of all the sports with £135 million heading their way. It added that rugby league, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing will also benefit. The package doesn’t cover men’s professional football, despite the well-documented financial difficulties of English Football League (EFL) clubs, but that is because the government expects the Premier League to provide financial support.

Cricket is one sport not included in the announcement, which came as a surprise to many. It is understood that is because the funding is focused on sports which should be welcoming in spectators right now and currently the England team is out touring in South Africa. A spring survival scheme has not been ruled out however. Boxing and swimming also missed out on the winter funding and have both come out saying that they are also ‘fighting for survival’ and need to be supported.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Over the past few weeks we have worked tirelessly with sport governing bodies and clubs across the country to fully assess what support is needed, as a result of the decision to postpone the return of fans. We know the vast majority of sports – many of which operate on tight financial margins – have been making serious cost reductions, such as locking down grounds, taking up the furlough scheme for many staff and halting excess payments. Whilst the government’s overall economic package has provided a significant buffer, it is absolutely right that we now intervene to protect entire sports, and the communities they support, as we navigate this pandemic.”

The money coming into to these 11 sports will make a huge difference, especially at the lower levels, as they are the ones who have been affected most by the loss of seasons, spectators and funding. Grassroot schemes and community sport have been hugely reduced in order to save money, and revenue, communities and jobs have either been lost or have suffered greatly over the past 9 months, and it is about time that help was given. Although the final amount received by each sport may ultimately differ from the sums currently set out, anything will be better than none, that is until we can get fans back into the stadiums and get back to a slice of normality that we are all so craving.

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