New grant funding will “protect the immediate future” of 850 National League football clubs, the Government has announced.
The £10 million scheme, targeted at teams in National League Steps three to six, is the first award to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package. The football season for those in steps three and below is currently suspended until 6 March 2021.
Distributed to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, eligible organisations will be contacted directly by the Football Foundation, a charitable organisation that channels funds to all levels of football. Clubs will be provided with “full details” so that they can make an immediate application.
Commenting on the scheme, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Today’s £10 million grant for lower league clubs in Steps three to six will act as a lifeline for around 850 clubs in towns and cities across England, and help these clubs through this difficult period until we can get fans back in safely.”
Chair of the independent decision making board for the Sports Winter Survival Package, Sir Ian Cheshire, added: “With thanks to Sport England for their significant work managing the scheme, the independent Board continues to work at speed while prioritising those with most pressing need for support, and we anticipate confirming further recipients in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, clubs in National League Steps one and two can apply for a grant if their “imminent future is at risk” and they can “demonstrate” that loans are unaffordable.
This comes after the Government announced a provisional £11 million in “very low interest long terms loans” to support clubs in Steps one and two.
“With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League Steps one and two in the form of loans,” said Mr Huddleston.
“However, if clubs at those levels can demonstrate it needs grant funding urgently to survive, we will ensure that option is available. We will not let clubs go to the wall. Applications will be assessed by the independent Board, through the same rigorous process that we apply to other sports.”
The new grant funding comes in addition to other coronavirus support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), business rates relief, Bounce Back Loans (BBL), and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
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