Government tells football to sort itself out as £300m sport care package announced
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Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has announced a £300m emergency package – but insisted football must sort itself out.
Rugby is the biggest winner with £135m of funds, horse racing is getting £40m and non-league football and the Women’s Super League are receiving a total of £28m.
Cricket was not on the Sports Winter Survival Package while there was also no money for swimming or athletics while the Government has also reiterated that it expects the Premier League to bail out EFL clubs.
But the worry for EFL clubs is no agreement has yet been reached with the Premier League, several League One and Two clubs are in danger of going out of business and that will also mean their vital community schemes will be shut down.
But Huddleston said: “If we have a situation where we have a third party entity saying we are going to look after a sector and make sure no club goes under why on earth then would we come in and government also needs to bail it out.
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“I encourage the EFL to come together and compromise as what’s on the table has been rejected by the EFL. The commitment from the Premier League to make sure EFL clubs don’t go under is I think a sincere one so we don’t need to put government money into that as well.
“There is a lot of money in top tier sport, they have just spent £1.2billion on transfers, the average Premier League player you go how much they get paid and similarly the Championship.
“I know League One and Two are not on the same level but there’s enough money to go around.”
The money will largely be made up of low interest loans and is designed to help clubs which have been hit by not having fans in the stadiums as Huddleston reiterated the Government’s plan to start test events for supporters from next month.
Huddleston sanctioned a £300m care package but omitted elite men's football and cricket
Huddleston also denied accusations that the Government was prioritising “posh sports” and insisted they had to look after sports which were affected by not having fans in during the next few months which is why he said cricket and swimming were not included this time.
Huddleston added: “The money is based on the need of clubs to make sure they survive, so it is not a north-south divide, Tory vs Labour area, you will see the money is being spread fairly well across the country.
“It is based on an assessment of need and I am comfortable with that criteria rather than anything else being applied.
“With the ECB, we speak to all the time, and swimming, they are not impacted as much as some of the other big spectator sports over the winter in terms of lost revenue as a result of fans not being able to be in stadia and indeed other venues.”
However, there was also criticism from sports who have received money as Bristol Bears owner Steve Lansdown said: “It doesn’t sound enough, does it, not compared to what’s been granted to the Arts Council?
“It seems a pittance compared to that when you’re looking at the amount of people involved in sport around the country.”
RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: “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.”
Rugby Union: £135m – Rugby Football Union: £44m; Premiership clubs: £59m; Championship clubs: £9m; Clubs below Championship: £23m
Horseracing: £40m – To racecourses
Football: £28m – National League (steps 1-2): £11m; National League (steps 3-6): £14m; Women's Football (Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship): £3m
Rugby League: £12m
Motorsport: £6m – Owners/operators of major circuits (Silverstone, Goodwood, The British Automobile Racing Club, MotorSport Vision)
Tennis: £5m – Lawn Tennis Association
Netball: £4m – England Netball: £2m; Super League Netball: £2 million
Basketball: £4m – Basketball England: £1m; British Basketball League clubs (including Women's British Basketball League clubs): £3m
Ice Hockey: £4m – Elite League
Badminton: £2m – Badminton England
Greyhound racing: £1m – Greyhound Board of Great Britain