Scottish government seeks clarity on UK emergency sports funding

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland sports news correspondent
The Scottish government will decide how to spend the extra money
The Scottish government will decide how to spend the extra money

The Scottish government is seeking "urgent clarification" from its UK counterpart about the amount of funding available for sports.

The UK government is to provide £300m of loans and grants for sports in England impacted by the absence of fans because of Covid-19.

That money will mean an increase in cash for the devolved governments, who decide how to spend it.

The Scottish government welcomed the announcement, but want more detail.

"This has been an enormously challenging time for the sport sector and we appreciate the sacrifices made by supporters, clubs and authorities over the past months to help us tackle the virus," a spokesperson said.

"We welcome the announcement of a UK government support scheme for sports impacted by the loss of spectators during the pandemic, and will seek urgent clarification on the Barnett consequential funding as a result in order to support the sector in Scotland."

The funding in England extends to rugby union and rugby league, as well as horse racing, women's football, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing.

Men's football above non-league level is not on the list, but it would be for the Scottish government to decide how to allocate the extra cash in Scotland.

The government added it "will continue to work with the [sport] sector to ensure their long-term sustainability".

They said: "Sport brings 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."

'We've been waiting a long time'

The British Basketball League and the Elite Ice Hockey League are to receive £3m and £4m respectively from the UK government's £300m fund.

Both leagues contain Scottish sides, who are hoping to have access to the money.

Duncan Smillie, chief executive of BBL side Glasgow Rocks told BBC Scotland he believes the club "are going to get a slice of it."

"We have been waiting on this announcement for a long time," he added.

"Although we are not quite there yet. Nobody has sent us any money but we do believe we are going to get some assistance.

"Without some help and some funding it was pretty clear that basketball as a sport could not continue without paying fans and sponsors, because maybe 95% of our income comes from people attending the game day."

The Rocks have been engaging with Sport Scotland about the allocation of funds, and Smillie says the money would have to come as a grant, rather than a loan.

"We started our season last week in good faith that this funding would come," Smillie added.

"If this funding wasn't coming there would be no season for us. It's essential and time critical."

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