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British government gives £300m rescue package to virus-hit sport

·3-min read
The rescue package support will largely be in the form of loans, according to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The rescue package support will largely be in the form of loans, according to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The British government on Thursday revealed they will give a combined £300 million ($396 million) rescue package to 11 sports hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport in the UK has suffered financially as a result of the absence of fans from stadiums due to the virus.

The financial support will largely be in the form of loans, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

Rugby union will receive the biggest single amount, with £135 million ear-marked for the sport.

Of that, £44 million will go to England's Rugby Football Union, £59 million to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9 million to clubs in the Championship and £23 million to clubs below the Championship.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney responded by saying: "The RFU is very reassured that government recognises the difficult circumstances and unique challenges being faced by the whole of the rugby union family and we are grateful for this much needed support and consideration in addition to the initial programmes that have been provided.

"This recognises the vital role that sports plays in the health of the nation and rugby volunteers and facilities across the whole of the country will play a crucial role in reuniting communities when we are able to do so."

Meanwhile horse racing will receive £40 million to support racecourses unable to welcome visitors.

Football's National League will receive £11 million to cover the period between January and the end of March.

Steps three to six of the pyramid will receive £14 million, while the Women's Super League and Championship have been awarded £3 million.

The Rugby Football League will benefit to the tune of a further £12 million, topping up the £16 million announced in May to safeguard rugby league's future.

Owners and operators of major motor-sports circuits will receive a combined £6 million, the Lawn Tennis Association will get £5 million and England Netball will receive £2 million.

Basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing's losses have been covered to the tune of a combined £11 million.

The package does not cover men's professional football, despite the well-documented financial difficulties of Football League clubs.

That is because the government expects the Premier League to provide financial support.

Negotiations continue over a rescue package from the top flight to support the 72 clubs in the three divisions below.

Cricket is not included in Thursday's announcement.

It is understood that is because the 'Winter Survival Package' is focused on sports which should be welcoming in spectators right now.

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."

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