Published: 15:33, 27 January 2021
| Updated: 16:41, 27 January 2021
National League clubs will be given access to grants – if they need it to avoid going bust.
That’s the message from Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston as the government confirmed the next tranche of funding for steps 1 and 2 is in the form of loans.
National League South and North were paused last week for a fortnight after the league told clubs that funding was due in loans rather than grants from January onwards.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Huddleston said: “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 (they need) 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.”
Any clubs in the National League at steps 1 and 2 that can demonstrate they are in urgent need of grant funding to survive should apply to the main Sports Winter Survival Package through Sport England.
The government has announced that £10million is being made available to clubs at steps 3 to 6 - Isthmian League to Southern Counties East League level - in the form of grants as part of the Winter Survival Package.
Applications can be made from tomorrow and funds will be distributed to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
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 £10million 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.”
Chair of the independent board, Sir Ian Cheshire, said: “On behalf of the independent board we are pleased to be able to confirm funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package in the form of up to £10 million of grants for steps 3-6 of the National League System.
“As the sport and physical activity sector continues to navigate trying times, this package of government support is vitally important in ensuring that clubs, sports and leagues who are reliant on revenue from spectators can continue to stay afloat.
“With thanks to Sport England for their significant work managing the scheme, the independent Board continues to work at speed while prioritising those with most pressing need for support, and we anticipate confirming further recipients in the coming weeks.”
Clubs can apply for support to help with key expenditure such as lease or mortgage payments, debt or loan repayments, utility costs, insurance, essential pitch and stadium maintenance, non-playing staff that haven’t been furloughed or Covid-19 compliance measures.