Scotland’s Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick has today (Thursday) announced a £55m (€60.3m/$73.1m) emergency sports funding package to tackle lost ticketing revenue caused by COVID-19.

The funding will include grants and low-interest loans, with £30m to be provided across all levels of Scottish football and £20m to Scottish rugby. Further funding will be made available for basketball (£300,000), netball (£100,000), motorsport (£400,000), horse racing (£2m) and ice hockey (£200,000), as well as £2m for ice rinks to support the country’s curling programmes and recreational and professional skating.

Of the £55m package, £20m in loan funding will be provided for the top-tier Scottish Premiership and £10m in grants for all other levels below the Premiership, including non-league and women’s football. The £20m set aside for Scottish rugby will comprise £15m in grants and £5m in loan funding.

The funding package is in addition to sportscotland’s £1.5m COVID Recovery Support Fund. The agency has partnered with the Scottish government to loosen the criteria for its £32m planned annual investment for the sports sector during the pandemic to allow sports organisations to protect 1,600 jobs.

Details of the package have been announced after the UK government last month confirmed a £300m cash injection for “major spectator sports” in England, although elite men’s football and cricket was excluded. The Sports Winter Survival Package is designed to support sports through the winter period, with the funding to be largely composed of loans.

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.”

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, added: “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.”

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