UK Government have announced clubs at steps three to six of National League System will be awarded up to £10 million to protect ‘immediate’ future of over 800 clubs during lockdown.
This funding will be provided in the form of grants with eligible Non-League clubs to be contacted directly by the Football Foundation with complete details, with applications set to be made available from tomorrow.
Once applications are approved, individual clubs will quickly be distributed funding via the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, with this announcement marking the first round of funding provided by the Government’s £300m Sports Winter Survival Package (SWSP).
The SWSP focuses on helping spectator sports which have been severely impacted by Coronavirus restrictions across winter, following submissions made by various sports to an independent board with support from Sport England.
UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston has spoken of the Government’s promise to support Non-League clubs in football, with this latest announcement supplementing an announcement in October of a cash partnership with National Lottery to provide £10m of assistance funding.
Huddleston however admitted that this new grant will help lower league clubs throughout this tough period, saying; “Today’s £10 million grant for lower league clubs in steps 3-6 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.”
Sir Ian Cheshire chaired the independent Board and is ‘pleased’ to confirm funding for Non-League clubs from steps 3-6 of National League, speaking of how significant this package is, saying; “… this package of government support is vitally important in ensuring that clubs, sports and leagues who are reliant on revenue from spectators can continue to stay afloat.”
Clubs in National League plus National League North and South Divisions meanwhile will be eligible for grants if meet a strict condition – involving them being able to demonstrate that loans are unaffordable.
Acknowledging that tax-paying money is ‘precious’, Huddleston clarified that clubs in the top two steps of Non-League are already receiving loans but has moved to state that the Government ‘will ensure’ that grant funding is available if individual clubs can prove that loans are not affordable.
Huddleston confirmed that those applications will be assessed by the independent Board subject to the same rigorous process as other sports will face, although the 50 year-old has vowed that clubs won’t be allowed to collapse, saying; “We will not let clubs go to the wall.”
Eligible leagues for the new funding at steps 3-6 of the Non League pyramid include Northern Premier League, Isthmian League and Northern League, meaning that clubs like FC United of Manchester, Haringey Borough and Stockton Town plus many more could apply for funding if so wish to do so.