English sports gets $400M bailout, in talks on fans' return

English sport handed £300 mln 'winter survival package,' EPL excluded

Rugby Union biggest beneficiary of Government's £300m Winter Survival Package

The British government announced a 300-million-pound "winter survival package" on Thursday to tide the sporting industry through the COVID-19 pandemic, with rugby set for the biggest share but nothing for top-level football and cricket.

Premiership rugby clubs, who had warned of bankruptcies without state aid, accounted for £59 million and the national Rugby Football Union £44 million.

Preliminary allocations by sport, based on needs assessment, saw rugby union top the list with up to 135 million pounds.

"Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities and this £300 million boost will help them survive this hard winter period", said Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture and Sport.

The top four divisions of English football will not receive funding.

"Both us and the government are starting to feel more confident that there may be a solution that would allow the safe return of fans that have tested negative for Covid to get back into stadiums quicker".

Largely composed of loans, the UK Government revealed the support will focus on sports severely impacted over the winter.

Horse racing will get 40 million pounds to support racecourses closed to spectators, while the National League, which sits below the Football league, and women's football receive 28 million pounds.

Asked about the issue during Prime Minister's Questions, Johnson said: "We don't want any football team to go out of business as a result of this pandemic and we're doing everything we can".

"This has been an enormously challenging time for the sport sector and we appreciate the sacrifices made by supporters, clubs and authorities over the past months to help us tackle the virus", a spokesperson said.

Last week the EFL said a "significant step forward" had been taken with regards to an outlined £50m package of grants and loans for League One and Two clubs yet there is still no formal agreement.

"It makes a huge difference to us".

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: "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".

"This recognises the vital role that sports plays in the health of the nation and rugby volunteers and facilities across the whole of the country will play a crucial role in reuniting communities when we are able to do so".

Motorsport, which employs more than 40,000 people in Britain, was allocated 6 million pounds to help operators of circuits like Silverstone.

Netball, basketball and ice hockey are in line for £4 million ($5 million/€4 million) each while badminton is eligible for £2million ($3 million/€2 million) and greyhound racing is set for £1 million ($1.3 million/€1.1 million).

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