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Eleven sports to receive £300m government bailout

THE government will provide a combined £300 million cash injection to 11 sports hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced.

Major spectator sports have suffered as a result of the continued absence of fans from venues, and after pledging its support the government has now outlined the scope of the backing it will provide.

The support will largely be in the form of loans, DCMS said.

Rugby union will receive the biggest single amount – £135m. Of that, £44m will go to the Rugby Football Union, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9m to clubs in the Championship and £23m to clubs below the Championship.

Horse racing will receive £40m to support racecourses unable to welcome visitors.

Football’s National League at steps one and two – which has already benefited from £10m in National Lottery funding to assist through to the end of 2020 – will receive a further £11m to cover the period between January and the end of March.

Steps three to six of the National League will receive £14m, while the Women’s Super League and Championship have been awarded £3m.

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

Owners and operators of major motorsport circuits will receive a combined £6m, the Lawn Tennis Association will get £5m and England Netball will receive £2m.

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

The package does not cover men’s professional football, despite the well-documented financial difficulties of EFL 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 – a summer sport – was not included in yesterday’s announcement which was aimed at getting sports through the winter months.

The government had hoped to allow spectators to return to venues on a socially distanced basis from October 1, but it delayed those plans after a rise in coronavirus infections nationwide.

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “These are unprecedented times for our sector and those sports and leagues that rely so heavily on spectators for their income that have been especially impacted by the pandemic.

“The role they play in their local communities is vital and this package of support from government will be hugely welcomed.

“Alongside our wider support for grassroots and community sport, Sport England is working very closely with government colleagues on the design of this fund and we look forward to playing a key role in its successful and swift delivery.”

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