Rugby union will receive a bailout totalling £135million as part of English sport’s coronavirus relief package, the government have announced.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) will provide £44m to the Rugby Football Union, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9m to clubs in the Championship and £23m to clubs below the Championship.
The news follows Sportsmail‘s exclusive on Wednesday that a relief package totalling £300m was to be announced to help cash-strapped sports through the winter and prevent many famous clubs from going bust.
Rugby union will receive a bailout totalling £135million, with £44million going to the RFU
Meanwhile, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs and £9m to clubs in the Championship
The aid package for rugby is part of the Government’s package that will comprise a combination of grants and loans for 13 sports.
Rugby at both club and international level has been hit hard by the ban on spectators, with gate receipts at Twickenham alone accounting for 85 per cent of the RFU’s revenue.
Football has not been granted such a hefty fee, taking £28m with the National League at steps one and two – which have already benefited from £10m in National Lottery funding to assist through to the end of 2020 – receiving £11m of that sum.
The other steps of the National League from three to six will receive half of the £28m allocated, while the top two divisions of women’s football have been granted just £3m.
Gate receipts at Twickenham alone accounting for 85 per cent of the RFU’s revenue
Steps one and two of the National League will take £11m of the £28m given to football
But it has been made abundantly clear throughout the coronavirus pandemic the Government expect professional football to solve its own financial slump, with discussions continuing between the Premier League and EFL about a bailout for smaller clubs from the top flight.
Horse racing is the sport to receive the second highest amount, with £40m being taken by racecourses after they too have been hit hard by the absence of spectators, while rugby league is the only other sport to be given more than £10m and will top up the £16m announced in May to safeguard their future.
Greyhound racing is the sport to have received the least amount in the relief package, with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain benefitting from £1m, while badminton will gain £2m.
Motorsport and tennis will take £6m and £5m respectively, while England’s netball and basketball bodies and their leagues will receive £4m, as will the Elite League in ice hockey.
Women’s Super League and FA Championship clubs will also receive £3m of the allocation
Horse racing receives the second highest amount, with £40m being taken by racecourses
Cricket is not included in the announcement because the ‘Winter Survival Package’ is focused on sports which should be welcoming in spectators right now.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Over the past few weeks we have worked tirelessly with sport governing bodies and clubs across the country to fully assess what support is needed, as a result of the decision to postpone the return of fans.
“We know the vast majority of sports – many of which operate on tight financial margins – have been making serious cost reductions, such as locking down grounds, taking up the furlough scheme for many staff and halting excess payments.
“Whilst the Government’s overall economic package has provided a significant buffer, it is absolutely right that we now intervene to protect entire sports, and the communities they support, as we navigate this pandemic.”
Rugby league will top up the £16m announced in May to safeguard their future with £12m more
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities and this £300m boost will help them survive this difficult winter period.
“We promised to stand by sports when we had to postpone fans returning. We are doing just that by delivering another £300m on top of existing business support schemes.
“Britain is a sports powerhouse and this Government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through Covid.”
The Government had hoped to allow spectators to return to venues on a socially-distanced basis from October 1, but it delayed those plans after a rise in coronavirus infections nationwide.
The Lawn Tennis Association has also been granted £5m in the coronavirus aid package
The final amount received by each sport or organisation may ultimately differ from the amounts which have been set out initially when final decisions are made by an independent decision-making board, and supported by Sport England.
Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “These are unprecedented times for our sector and those sports and leagues that rely so heavily on spectators for their income that have been especially impacted by the pandemic.
“The role they play in their local communities is vital and this package of support from Government will be hugely welcomed.
“Alongside our wider support for grassroots and community sport, Sport England is working very closely with Government colleagues on the design of this fund and we look forward to playing a key role in its successful and swift delivery.”
The Government are also in talks with all the major sports about resuming limited test events with spectators after lockdown.
A handful of test events at football, cricket, rugby and racing were held in the summer, but they were halted September.