PUBLIC MONEY TO BURN: Professional sport allocated £2.55 million of COVID support

13 January 2022 

By Bill Heaney

Who in the name of the Wee Man could believe that professional sports affected by the recent COVID-19 crowd limits have been allocated £2.55 million in financial support from the Scottish Government?

The funding for the Hooray Henrys includes horse racing – ‘the sport of kings’ – and minted footballers comes from the £5 million announced for professional sport on 5 January, as part of £375 million in wider business support.

It will  support up to 75% of losses after the Omicron outbreak saw a limit of 500 introduced on outdoor crowds. This restriction will be lifted on Monday 17 January. The funding will also support clubs impacted by the limit of 200 on indoor sports.

Ladies’ Days, champagne tents, big hats. bookies  and boozers by the busload are to receive a handout from the Holyrood government, who are cutting public services. Pictures by Bill Heaney

The traditional Boxing day Premier League football fixtures and  horse racing at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day were among the events affected by the restrictions.

Sports minister Maree Todd, pictured right, said: ““These sports  clubs are at the heart of their communities, but many of them have suffered real hardships as the necessary COVID-19 lockdown restrictions meant attendances were heavily restricted.

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

“This Government has pledged to provide  funding to support organisations affected by the necessary measures to keep us all safe and these allocations show we are doing this.

“We will continue to work in partnership to support all our sports clubs to help them through this difficult time and to ensure this  funding can be accessed by all clubs as efficiently as possible.”

The funding package, which comes at a time when we still have food banks and soaring child poverty in Scotland, is split as follows:

  • Ice hockey – £350,000
  • Basketball – £20,000
  • Horse Racing – £265,000
  • Rugby – £125,000
  • Football – £1.79million

Total: £2.55 million

Further funding from the £5 million may be allocated in the event of further restrictions having significant financial impacts.

Ice hockey and basketball clubs affected, deemed to be most in need, will receive their funding directly from sportscotland. The other sports will see the funding provided to governing bodies who will then distribute it to members. The amounts for each football club will be finalised by the SFA/SPFL  after this weekend’s fixtures, as they are included in the period of restrictions.

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