Discussions ongoing as sport in Scotland fights for survival

Public funding for sport will need to prioritise organisations which are battling for survival, according to sportscotland.

The national sports agency is working to identify clubs and organisations which are in most need of funding in order to avert any immediate danger.

The difficulties facing Scottish sport were underlined on Thursday when the Elite Ice Hockey League stated that the £4million injection promised by the UK Government could only be distributed to the five English clubs in the 10-team set-up.

A £300million package was announced for sports in England last week but there has been no clarity on how that extra funding will transmit to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Stewart Harris, right, is the chief executive of sportscotland
Stewart Harris, right, is the chief executive of sportscotland

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “We are continuing to work with a range of SGBs (sports governing bodies) and the Scottish Government to fully understand the immediate financial challenges faced across the sector including the impact of lost income in relation to spectator sports.

“This is a worrying time for many organisations but any financial support that may be available will need to be prioritised to help the survival of those most affected by the pandemic rather than as a replacement for projected lost income.

“It is vital that everyone comes together in the interests of all Scottish sport as we try to find solutions to problems caused by a global pandemic which sadly continues to have a very real effect on people and communities across the country.

“Sport is central to the fabric of Scottish society and we will continue to work with all key stakeholders to try to identify a viable and fair way forward that is in the best interests of all Scottish sport.”

The Scottish Government announced it was seeking urgent clarity on the funding implications immediately after the cash injection for English sport was detailed last Thursday. Extra funds for England would normally trigger payments to Scotland under the Barnett Formula.

However, there are doubts about whether there will be a knock-on effect, especially as about five-sixths of the £300million injection is understood to be in the form of loans.

When the announcement was made, the Department of Culture Media and Sport said: “The devolved administrations have been provided with an upfront guarantee this year of £16billion above their Spring Budget 2020 funding to support their response to Covid-19.

“It is for the devolved administrations to decide how to use this funding irrespective of how UK government provides support in England.”

🏒Following last week's 'Winter Survival Package' announcement from the UK government, we have more details on what this means for teams across the #EIHL and the next steps that need to be taken.

📰 https://t.co/W6Zt18L7FDpic.twitter.com/0tmmsjXsX3

— EIHL (@officialEIHL) November 26, 2020

The EIHL called for the devolved governments to assess funding options for Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan as soon as possible.

It is understood sportscotland is working with ice hockey as well as the likes of basketball and netball to identify the most pressing issues while it remains in contact with the football and rugby sectors.

Sportscotland has previously accelerated £32.4million of funding from the Scottish Government and National Lottery to support governing bodies and local partners, and launched a £1.5million support fund.

Neil Doncaster issued a warning
Neil Doncaster issued a warning

The Scottish Government was recently told that the pandemic had cost sport in the country £100million with the bulk of that in football.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster this week warned that the continuing absence of fans would spell the “death knell” for some clubs and called for talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

English rugby was the biggest winner in the UK Government announcement with a £135million pledge but none of the cash is being earmarked for English football’s 92 league clubs. Non-league clubs will gain £28million while the Premier League is expected to support the English Football League.