A £55 million emergency sports funding package to tackle lost ticket revenue during the pandemic has been announced today by Sports Minister Joe FitzPatrick.

The funding will comprise grants and low-interest loans, including £30 million for Scottish Football at all levels of the game. Scottish Rugby will benefit from £20 million, alongside funding for basketball, netball, motor sport, horse racing and ice hockey, including support for ice rinks that support Scotland’s world-class curling programmes as well as recreational and professional skating. 

The package comes in addition to Sportscotland’s £1.5 million COVID Recovery Support Fund. In partnership with the Scottish Government, the agency also loosened the criteria for its £32 million planned annual investment for the sports sector during the pandemic, allowing sports organisations to protect 1,600 jobs.

Mr FitzPatrick said:

“I am pleased to announce this substantial funding package, which will help to ensure those sports which have been worst affected by the loss of ticket revenue during the pandemic are able to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.

“While restrictions on supporters at events have been vital in stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives, there can be no doubt that they have created real hardships for many sports clubs. These clubs are at the heart of our communities and, without urgent financial support, the survival of some could be in question. I’m delighted that we are able to provide significantly more support than the Barnett consequential funding received from the UK Government Sports Winter Survival package.

“I recognise that for football in particular, governing bodies, clubs and, of course, supporters themselves are desperate to see fans back as soon as possible. Sport brings great enjoyment to the many people who watch and play, and we don’t want supporters to be delayed in returning to stadiums for any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

Sportscotland Chief Executive Stewart Harris said:

“This announcement is very welcome as the funding will help protect the immediate future of many clubs over the coming months.

“We will continue to work with a range of Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and the Scottish Government to prioritise this funding to ensure the survival of the sports at the heart of our communities.

“With the roll out of the vaccine this week there is real hope that we are beginning to see our way out of this pandemic, and we need to make certain that sport is in a good place and is a prominent part of the overall recovery plan.”

Spectator sports in Paisley will receive a share of the £55million package, and the support will help teams such as St Mirren Football Club cope with a difficult period where they have been unable to welcome fans to matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has long been a fan and supporter of St. Mirren FC and knows the hardship local sports clubs have faced since the beginning of the pandemic, was equally delighted with the announcement of increased funding.

He said:

“As a local football fan myself, I know how challenging this year has been for our clubs and the industry as a whole. It’s vital therefore that we have an industry to go back to, participate in, and enjoy once it’s safe to do so which is why I am delighted by this announcement from Mr FitzPatrick and the Scottish Government.

“Like many of you, I miss wrapping up and going to see a game at the weekend as for me nothing compares to cheering on my team, surrounded by other roaring fans, and enjoying the sense of community and togetherness the game creates – regardless of whether we win or lose. But I will only enjoy it once again if I know myself and my fellow fans aren’t endangering ourselves in the process.

“No one wants to see our beloved teams or clubs suffer which is why the Scottish Government have been working closely with clubs and sporting authorities from the outset of the pandemic to make sure all levels have access to the support and advice they need at this difficult time.

“Things many be challenging right now, but I know this emergency funding will make a massive difference and our collective sacrifices will all be worth it when we return to our stadiums, halls, and sporting events safely in the future.”