Professional sport gets £2.55m to counter impact of Covid restrictions

Professional sports including football, rugby and horse racing are to share £2.55m in support from the Scottish Government to help them cope with the financial impact of Covid restrictions.

Sports Minister Maree Todd said some clubs had suffered ‘real hardship’ as measures imposed to curb the spread of the Omicron variant limited the number of people who could attend outdoor events to a maximum of 500 .

The funding will cover up to 75% of losses following the introduction of the limit on outdoor crowds and will also support clubs affected by the impact of the 200 seated spectator limit in indoor sports.

The restrictions, in place since Boxing Day, will be lifted from Monday January 17, allowing sports fans to return to the football pitches and attend Six Nations rugby matches in Edinburgh.

This funding will help ensure clubs are able to bridge the revenue gap as spectators safely return to sporting events in greater numbers when these restrictions are eased next week.

Maree Todd MSP, Sports Minister

Ice hockey and basketball will also share £2.55m financial support from the Scottish Government

Maree Todd said: “These sports clubs are at the heart of their communities, but many of them suffered real hardship as the necessary Covid-19 lockdown restrictions meant attendance was heavily restricted.

“This funding will help ensure clubs are able to close the revenue gap as spectators safely return to sporting events in greater numbers when these restrictions are eased next week.

“This government is committed to providing funds to support organizations affected by the measures necessary to keep us all safe and these allocations show that we are doing it.

“We will continue to work in partnership to support all of our sports clubs to help them through this difficult time and to ensure that this funding is available to all clubs as efficiently as possible.”

Traditional Premier League football matches on Boxing Day and horse racing at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day were among the events affected by the restrictions.

Football will receive £1.79 million in support, ice hockey £350,000 and horse racing £265,000 while £125,000 will go to rugby and £20,000 to basketball.

The funding comes from the £5m announced for professional sport on January 5, as part of £375m in support for wider businesses.

Additional funds from the £5million could be allocated in the event that further restrictions have significant financial impacts.

The ice hockey and basketball clubs concerned will receive their funding directly from sportscotland while, for other sports, the funding will be provided to the governing bodies who then distribute it to the members.

The amounts for each football club will be finalized by the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League after this weekend’s matches, as they are included in the restriction period.

Sara R. Cicero