English summer sport benefits from Budget

The Government has today (Wednesday) confirmed a new £300m (€346.7m/$417.8m) recovery package for sport in England, specifically targeted at summer sports.

The funding was revealed as Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed his 2021 Budget. Sunak detailed that the £300m would be directed to “major spectator sports”, supporting clubs and governing bodies in England as fans begin to return to stadia.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Twitter that the £300m would “help spectator sports such as cricket, tennis and horse racing”.

A £2.8m package designed to support a prospective bid from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland to host the 2030 edition of football’s FIFA World Cup was also confirmed, along with a further £1.2m for England’s staging of the UEFA Women’s Euro, which was originally due to take place this summer but has been postponed to 2022.

The precise breakdown of the £300m package has not been disclosed, but it was reported by the BBC yesterday that cricket would receive the lion’s share after being forced to endure an entire 2020 season behind closed doors.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in November set out plans to host a full summer of international cricket in 2021, with a ticket refund system introduced in case COVID-19 again interferes with the schedule.

An ECB spokesperson said: “We welcome the Government’s intention to extend the support given to winter sports so that cricket and other summer sports are given a financial safety net and are able to bid as well.

“Playing behind closed doors for all of last season has already had a severe financial impact on cricket, and that will continue this year until full crowds are able to return.”

Dowden last month announced the latest phase of funding as part of the Government’s Sport Winter Survival Package, with women’s sport in particular set to benefit.

Football’s Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship will receive a combined £2.25m of grant support for essential league costs, along with a proportion of 250,000 free COVID-19 testing kits being made available to elite sports. Women’s sport has been designated as a priority in the handing out of testing kits.

England Netball and the Netball Superleague will receive a total of £4.2m in grants, which have already helped the league begin its 2021 season on February 12. The latest round of funding came after the Government announced in November an initial £300m cash injection for “major spectator sports” in England, with rugby union taking the majority of the funding (£135m). Cricket was excluded at that point.