In these unprecedented times, clubs from professional to grassroots level are facing a funding crisis.
While we have seen many top flight clubs taking partial pay cuts to stay afloat, that option is not available for every team in the playing pyramid.
Rugby Unions and sporting bodies have been putting financial plans in place for clubs to make the most of. There are loans and grants available from the home Unions and wider sporting bodies, offering funding and advice in such unparalleled times.
So, just what is on offer, and who and where from?
From the Unions
Over the course of the last few weeks, we have seen the Unions taking steps to help those through difficulty. Top level payment cuts and deferrals have caused controversy in areas but there are steps that clubs can take to take advantage of support being offered by these Unions.
• An early release of £800,000 cash due to clubs through the ticketing fund.
• Early release of final funding payments (£600,000) to Constituent Bodies and suspension of the activity plans against which this was allocated, enabling them to utilise this and provide “immediate support grants” to clubs most in need. In addition, £400,000 will be made available to Constituent Bodies who elect to match the sum from their own reserves.
• A suspension of the quarterly loan repayments for clubs with outstanding loans due in March (£335,000).
• The creation of a £5m support loans programme, offering loans of circa £2k to circa £10k to clubs, with deferred re-payments for six months and then repayable over three years.
The IRFU have created a €500,000 Club Continuity Fund, to provide grants to those clubs who are most at risk due to the pandemic. Such clubs may apply for a grant of up to €5,000.
Scottish Rugby has opened applications to funding from its newly created Club Hardship Fund (CHF).
The fund is designed to provide grants for clubs to sustain their business during this unprecedented period, and help them to continue to deliver rugby in Scotland in the future.
Clubs can ordinarily apply for up to a maximum of £5,000 from the CHF, though larger sums may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The deadline for applications is Thursday 30 April 2020.
From other bodies
It’s not just the Unions offering funding to rugby clubs, with national sporting bodies recognising the importance of keeping these community hubs financially viable throughout this crisis. Sporting bodies are pledging a range of loans and grants to clubs and organisations hit by the widespread lack of sport.
A £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which will be open immediately for clubs and community organisations to bid into. Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available.
A £5 million pot for existing partners to bid into if they’re facing specific financial difficulty.
An additional £55 million to support the sector during an ongoing period of restrictions, to fund new and innovative ways to keep people active and, when the period of restrictions is over, to help organisations get back to business and adjust to a different environment
A £115 million rollover of current funding into 2021/22 to give long term certainty to over 100 well established partners who play a vital role in the delivery of sport and physical activity in England.
Welsh Government has confirmed they are making £200,000 available to provide support to not-for-profit sports clubs. This is being match-funded with £200,000 from Sport Wales.
Sport Scotland has advised that they can discuss current grants with the organisation but encourages clubs to get in touch with their own sporting bodies and the Scottish Government to deal with specific issues related to funding and operations.
Let’s hope that we are all able to flock back to our local club house as soon as possible and enjoy the sport we have missed so much over the last month.