Government confirms £10 million emergency support for Steps 3-6 – but Steps 1-2 is loans, not grants

Clubs at Steps 3-6 will receive £10 million worth of grants but funding at Step 1-2 will only be distributed in the form of loans

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has announced that Steps 3-6 of the National League system will receive up to £10 million to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period.

But he has reiterated that the £11 million set aside from the Government’s Sports Winter Survival Package will be in the form of “very low-interest loans”, not grants, unless clubs can prove their future is at risk.

“We will not let clubs go to the wall,” Huddlestone said.

A number of clubs have already threatened to cut their season short if funding could not be assured in the form of grants until the end of the season.

The Step 3-6 funding, designed to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 football clubs across England, will be provided in the form of grants. Clubs will be contacted directly by the Football Foundation with full details and will be able to make an application from tomorrow. Funds will be distributed quickly to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

It is the first award to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package, focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter.

In October, the Government announced it had brokered a unique deal with the National Lottery to provide a £10 million cash injection to help keep the National League, North and South divisions afloat.

Clubs will be assessed on the basis of need, with grants available where loans are demonstrated to be unaffordable for individual clubs in line with the support offered for other sports.

The Sports Winter Survival Package is a sector-specific intervention that is on top of the multi-billion pounds worth of business support that has been made available by the Government, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and business interruption loan scheme that has helped many sports clubs survive. Football alone has accessed many hundreds of millions of pounds of support through this.

Mr Huddleston said: “We promised to support sports and target help to where it’s most needed. Today we continue to deliver on that with further support for National League football clubs.

“The National League has already benefited from the Government support schemes through a £10 million Government-brokered cash partnership with the National Lottery, and there will be more support for the bigger clubs on the way.

“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.”

On Step 1 and 2 National League funding, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added:

“With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League Steps 1 and 2 in the form of loans. However if clubs at those levels can demonstrate it needs grant funding urgently to survive, we will ensure that option is available. We will not let clubs go to the wall. Applications will be assessed by the independent Board, through the same rigorous process that we apply to other sports.”

Further confirmations of funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package will be made in due course.

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