Grants and loans being made available to non-league clubs - Sports Minister announces

Non-league news. Photo: Oliver AtkinNon-league news. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Non-league news. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Millions of pounds on table to help prop up hundreds of clubs...

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has announced that steps three to six of the National League system will receive up to £10m to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period.

The funding will be provided in the form of grants and clubs in steps three-six will be contacted directly by the Football Foundation with full details and will be able to make an application from tomorrow (Thursday).

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

It is the first award to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package that is focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter.

It follows submissions made from individual sports to an independent decision-making board, supported by Sport England.

In October the Government announced it had brokered a unique deal with the National Lottery to provide a £10 million cash injection to keep step one and two clubs afloat, and recently announced a provisional £11m in very low interest long term loans to support clubs in those tiers.

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Football from steps three and below have been suspended since the beginning of November, while the National League North and South divisions were suspended for two weeks last Friday after clubs expressed their concerns at having to take on loans to keep the season going.

Those two divisions are due to resume on February 6.

The Sports Winter Survival Package is a sector-specific intervention that is 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. Football alone has accessed many hundreds of millions of pounds of support through this.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We promised to support sports and target help to where it’s most needed.

"Today we continue to deliver on that with further support for National League football clubs.

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“The National League has already benefited from the Government support schemes through a £10m Government-brokered cash partnership with the National Lottery, and there will be more support for the bigger clubs on the way.

“Today’s £10m grant for lower league clubs in steps three to six will act as a lifeline for around 850 clubs in towns and cities across England, and help these clubs through this difficult period until we can get fans back in safely.”

On step one and two National League funding, Mr Huddleston added: “With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League steps one and two in the form of loans.

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

"We will not let clubs go to the wall. Applications will be assessed by the independent Board, through the same rigorous process that we apply to other sports.”