New funding of £17.7m has been announced by the Welsh Government to support spectator sports that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has seen some smaller sports teams have their fixtures cancelled altogether during the pandemic, while other teams have had to play games behind closed doors, despite needing the financial income usually provided by spectators to secure their operations.
The new support will be provided to rugby union, rugby league football, cricket, netball, ice hockey and horseracing, with the new fund designed to provide immediate financial support through the remainder of the winter period so that sports clubs and organisations can survive in the short-medium term and be ready for the new season later this year. The Spectator Sports Survival Fund will be allocated to the national governing bodies for the relevant sports in Wales directly from the Welsh Government.
The new funding comes at a time where there is no sign of crowds returning to stadiums and sports events anytime soon. Speaking about the new fund, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said;
“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, many of whom receive a significant proportion of their income through spectator attendance.
“Sport is an important sector of our economy and has a positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Sporting events provide important shared experiences, have often been a welcome distraction during the pandemic and will be a vital player in our recovery and healing after the crisis.
“I know this money will provide some stability to those sports worst affected by the loss of revenue during the pandemic, helping to bridge the financial gap until spectators are able to return safely.”
Exactly when spectators may be able to return to sporting events is unclear. Wales’ Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said, “as we look ahead to brighter days, sport and physical activity will be vital players in our recovery, helping to develop a healthier and more resilient Wales.”
What funding will each sport receive?
The grant allocation amounts are as follows;
- Rugby Union – £13.5 million
- Football – £1.5 million
- Horseracing – £1.2 million
- Cricket – £1.0 million
- Ice Hockey – £0.2 million
- Rugby League – £0.2 million
- Netball – £0.1 million