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Government's £300m emergency rescue package will help sports clubs through a bleak winter

The Government has announced a £300m emergency rescue package to guide sports clubs through what’s likely to be a bleak winter due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports have been impacted by the absence of spectators, while others – including community rugby sides like Maidenhead RFC and Windsor RFC – haven’t been able to return to competitive action at all.

Both rugby codes and horse racing are among the beneficiaries but clubs in the football league and Premier League have missed out on funding. Rugby Union will receive £135m, with £23m to be spent on clubs below the Championship.

The Government has also found another substantial amount of cash for non-league football, with the National League (steps 1-2) to receive an additional £11m, with £14m going to sides from steps 3-6. Women’s football, encompassing the Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship, will receive £3m. Cricket has missed out on funding.

"Clubs are the beating hearts of their communities - this boost will help them survive this difficult winter period," said Department for Culture Media and Sport minister Oliver Dowden.

The government said the Sports Winter Survival Package, which will be largely composed of loans, will support rugby union, horse racing, women's football and the lower tiers of the National League. It added that rugby league, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing were also in line to benefit.

The DCMS statement added: "Preliminary allocations have been made on a needs-based assessment process and reflect the submissions made from the individual sports, and the funding process will be overseen by an independent decision-making board and supported by Sport England."

It said the first tranche of funding will be distributed in the coming weeks.

News of the funding will be welcomed by clubs but it doesn’t bode well for the return of fans to matches any time soon.

Slough Town’s joint boss Neil Baker said: “This season is very different, not having fans in.

“There’s talk of them returning, but being brutally honest, you’ve got the National League talking about trying to extend the support which makes you think we’re not going to have fans back in soon.

“It makes a huge difference to us. We’ve always fed off the fans and it has a huge impact on the game.”

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