Sport tearing itself apart over bail-out funding

A multitude of sports is on the brink of civil war and much of the long-awaited £300million government bailout will be spent in days, mostly in loans rather than grants.

Sport England and Deloitte have scrutinized hundreds of clubs and competitions for a sector that is lacking in goal revenue in the three months since ministers announced the package. The government claimed in November that only clubs on the verge of immediate collapse would receive grants rather than loans, but fault lines have emerged in rugby, football and beyond.

With an announcement expected this week, The Daily Telegraph explores the main battlefields in a desperate hunt for money:

rugby union

Other sports were envious in November when ministers pledged almost half of the entire fund – £135million – to rugby union, but some clubs within the game have accused ministers of being “disingenuous” in their bid.

In the £9million championship, Ampthill bosses warned they may not be able to compete this season unless their entire share is a grant. Community club rugby director Mark Lavery said local MP Nadine Dorries made statements on behalf of the club at the 11th hour.

“She had a detailed and open discussion with the sports minister [Nigel Huddleston], and he has agreed to return to Winter Survival Fund and Sport England as Ampthill have found themselves in an unfavorable situation as a community club,” he added. Ministers, he said, “have not done what they promised, which was to examine each application on its individual merits”.

Ampthill has part-time championship participants among more than 1,000 paying playing members ranging from under 16s to veterans. “Our model is fundamentally different from the others in the competition,” he added. “It just wouldn’t make sense for our members to commit to a loan. I’ve been on the phone with both Sport England and Deloitte, who have encouraged each Championship club to apply for a grant and loan. Then turning around and saying there is no scholarship is disingenuous in my opinion.”

women soccer

Cash-strapped clubs from the top two tiers can access grants of just £30,000 each after the Football Association was forced to allocate nearly three-quarters of £3million to support additional Covid testing. Sources said the FA had no choice but to spend some of the remaining state funds on increased testing after recording more than 100 redundancies from a £300million deficit caused by the pandemic. Sport tearing itself apart over bail-out funding

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