Cash injection: Non-league clubs handed £10m government 'winter survival' money

Worcestershire-based MP Nigel Huddleston has been sports minister since a cabinet reshuffle in 2020
Worcestershire-based MP Nigel Huddleston has been sports minister since a cabinet reshuffle in 2020

About 850 non-league clubs have been handed a £10m injection as the first part of the government's Sports Winter Survival Package.

Teams in the four tiers below National League, National League North and National League South, will benefit.

But Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston also offered hope to the 66 National League clubs, promising: "We will not let clubs go to the wall."

The government will examine individual cases following a furore over loans.

Clubs at steps one and two in England's non-league system had agreed a delayed start to the season in October, with the help of a £10m government grant.

But that was on the assumption there would still be further financial support to complete the season if fans remained locked out of grounds in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, when a further cash injection was offered prior to the country going back into lockdown in early January, it was not as a grant, but as a provisional £11m loan on very low interest terms.

It caused discontent at many clubs who thought a promise of funding was to cover the entire season, not just the first third of it.

But the government says that any club in proven need of emergency funds just to survive will still be listened to if their imminent future is at risk and they can demonstrate loans are unaffordable.

"With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League Steps 1 and 2 in the form of loans," added Mr Huddleston.

"However, if clubs at those levels can demonstrate it needs grant funding urgently to survive, we will ensure that option is available.

"Applications will be assessed by the independent board, through the same rigorous process that we apply to other sports."

What is the Sports Winter Survival Package?

The award of a £10m grant to the 850 clubs in steps three to six of the non-league pyramid is the first to be announced by the government as part of a £300m Sports Winter Survival Package.

It is "a sector-specific intervention on top of the multi-billion pounds worth of business support that has been made available by the government, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and business interruption loan scheme that has helped many sports clubs survive".

Clubs will be contacted directly by the Football Foundation on Thursday and invited to make an application.

Funds will then be distributed quickly to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

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