Government announce additional funds for National League System

The Government has announced the latest tranche of funding from the winter phase of its Sport Survival Package, which will see £40 million provided to horse racing, rugby league, speedway and drag racing, alongside approximately £10 million in further support for National League football clubs across Steps 1-6.

The horse racing industry will benefit from £21 million in loan support, committed to the Levy Board. The funding will ensure essential race day integrity costs and related health and safety expenditure are safeguarded, enabling the Levy Board to continue their programme of financial support and funding into the industry which has suffered considerably as a result of Covid-19.

Men’s professional Rugby League clubs will receive a further £16.7 million in loans, delivered as a top-up to the existing £16 million emergency loan scheme provided by the Government in May 2020, to reflect current circumstances. This is in addition to £1.45 million of grant support from the scheme for the community and women’s games which complements £300,000 grassroots financial support through the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund. It follows the National Lottery announcing it had become an official partner of the Rugby Football League and of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League last week.

Motorsports on both two wheels and four will also benefit, with Speedway clubs and Europe’s first permanent drag racing venue set to receive funding. Speedway clubs have been offered £300,000 in loan support, while Santa Pod Raceway will receive £843,000 in loan support.

Meanwhile a further 20 clubs across Steps 1 and 2 of the National League system will receive funding of loans and grants worth £6.8 million, bringing the total provided to clubs at these levels through the winter phase of the Sport Survival Package to £11.5 million. It follows the Government announcing an initial 19 Step 1 and 2 clubs had been offered loan packages worth up to £5.4 million on 19 February.

Steps 3-6 of the National League System have also been awarded a further £3.1 million of grant support, following up to £10 million grant funding for clubs in Steps 3-6 announced on 27 January. This will bring the total support for the 880 clubs at Steps 3-6 of the National League system to up to £13.1 million, with funds again to be distributed to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, administered by the Football Foundation.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

We promised to stand by and protect our major spectator sports when we had to postpone fans returning.

Through our Sport Survival Package and existing business support schemes, we have helped hundreds of clubs to survive this difficult winter period. As the turnstiles begin to open over the coming weeks, players, staff and fans across the country can now look forward to a full return to action with confidence.

Chair of the independent Board, Sir Ian Cheshire said:

As we look to the conclusion of the Winter phase of the Sport Survival Package, this tranche of £50 million in support funding for rugby league, horse racing, speedway, drag racing, and clubs playing in football’s National League will ensure these clubs and organisations are able to sufficiently recover from the financial impact of the pandemic.

Following the government’s announcement that a further £300 million of Sport Survival funding has been made available, the Independent Board will now focus on getting this funding to those summer spectator sports in most urgent need.

The £300 million winter phase of the Government’s Sport Survival Package is focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter and cover essential costs. Over recent weeks funding has also been provided to rugby union, National League and women’s football, badminton, basketball, netball and ice hockey. Yesterday the Government announced £88 million in loan support to men’s Premiership Rugby Union clubs. Submissions for support have been made from individual sports to an independent decision-making Board, supported by Sport England.

The Sport Survival Package is the most generous bespoke support from any Government for its domestic sport sector in the world. It comes as part of the sector benefiting from more than £1.5 billion worth of business support that has been made available by the Government, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and business interruption loan scheme that has helped many sports clubs and leisure businesses to survive.

Earlier this month the Chancellor announced a further £300 million of support via the Sport Survival Package that is expected to benefit major summer spectator sports such as cricket, tennis and horse racing, as the path out of lockdown continues and sports stadia initially open at reduced capacities. Further details, including how cash will be distributed, how organisations can apply and timeframes, will be announced by Sport England in the coming weeks.