Sports get £55m ‘to tackle lost ticket revenue’

The Scottish Government has announced a £55 million emergency sports funding package “to tackle lost ticket revenue during the pandemic.”

The funding will comprise grants and low-interest loans, including £30 million for Scottish football at all levels of the game.

Scottish Rugby will benefit from £20 million, alongside funding for basketball, netball, motor sport, horse racing and ice hockey, including support for ice rinks that support Scotland’s curling programmes as well as recreational and professional skating. 

Athletics and swimming were not mentioned in the package.

The help comes in addition to sportscotland’s £1.5 million COVID Recovery Support Fund.

sportscotland loosened the criteria for its £32 million planned annual investment for the sports sector during the pandemic, helping sports organisations to protect 1,600 jobs.

Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I am pleased to announce this substantial funding package, which will help to ensure those sports which have been worst affected by the loss of ticket revenue during the pandemic are able to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.

“While restrictions on supporters at events have been vital in stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives, there can be no doubt that they have created real hardships for many sports clubs.

“These clubs are at the heart of our communities and, without urgent financial support, the survival of some could be in question. 

“I’m delighted that we are able to provide significantly more support than the Barnett consequential funding received from the UK Government Sports Winter Survival package.

“I recognise that for football in particular, governing bodies, clubs and, of course, supporters themselves are desperate to see fans back as soon as possible.

“Sport brings great enjoyment to the many people who watch and play, and we don’t want supporters to be delayed in returning to stadiums for any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said: “This announcement is very welcome as the funding will help protect the immediate future of many clubs over the coming months.

“We will continue to work with a range of Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and the Scottish Government to prioritise this funding to ensure the survival of the sports at the heart of our communities.

“With the roll out of the vaccine this week there is real hope that we are beginning to see our way out of this pandemic, and we need to make certain that sport is in a good place and is a prominent part of the overall recovery plan.”

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said: “The funding package today is … a massive boost to our sport at a critical time and I’d like to thank the Scottish Government for its generous and timely support which will underwrite rugby in the months and years ahead.”

Dodson added: “This has been a hugely difficult time at every level of our game in Scotland since the public lockdown began in March.

“Our main income sources effectively dried up at an international and professional level which in turn impacted on our ability to provide the revenues we need to invest in the community game going forward.

“We have had to make difficult decisions to look at how we can keep rugby financially afloat as we move into 2021.”