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Sport Welsh rugby to get £13m in government funding after fan absence as football gets £1m and Cardiff and Swansea City miss out

04:45  25 january  2021
04:45  25 january  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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The Welsh Government is readying a £17.7million funding package to help spectator sports hit by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rugby union, rugby league, football, horseracing, cricket, netball and ice hockey in Wales will all benefit.

Funds will be allocated to the sports' national governing bodies directly from the Welsh Government.

The money then will be distributed in accordance with needs identified by those governing bodies.

The finances of clubs throughout Wales have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, with no fans permitted inside games for nearly a year.

Rugby is the biggest beneficiary, with £13.5m going to the WRU who will then decide how to pass on the money - which is intended to help during the remainder of the winter period.

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Wales' four regions - Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons - are likely to get help from the funding, as are grassroots clubs throughout the country that have lost their match-day revenue.

A Welsh Government statement said: "It has been designed to provide immediate financial support for spectator sports through the remainder of the winter period to ensure that sports will be ready for the beginning of the new season in September.

"The funding will ensure the short-to-medium term survival of sports organisations and clubs who have been financially impacted by the restrictions on spectators at sporting events."

After rugby, football is the next biggest beneficiary, with £1.5m going to the FAW to distribute.

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Swansea had already beaten Forest in the Championship this season, where the Welsh club are chasing promotion while Chris Hughton's But Forest's hopes of a comeback did not last long, as Ryan Manning tumbled under Joe Worrall's challenge and Swansea were awarded a contentious penalty.

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However, Championship duo Cardiff City and Swansea City, plus other clubs in the English system like Newport County, don't look likely to benefit from this announcement as support has been provided directly by the leagues.

In December, the Premier League and English Football League agreed a £250m rescue package to help ease the financial challenge faced by EFL clubs, with the EFL being assisted in getting a £200m loan for Championship clubs and a £50m grant being agreed for League One and Two clubs.

It came after the UK Government announced in November a rescue package of £300m of emergency funding for sports in England impacted by the absence of spectators, including £135m for rugby, but clubs in football's Premier League or English Football League were also not on that beneficiary list.

Speaking on the Welsh Government's funding package, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, said: "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, many of whom receive a significant proportion of their income through spectator attendance.

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After a lengthy dispute, the WRU and the four Welsh rugby regions sign a deal aimed at keeping star players in Wales. The £ 8.7m includes £ 2m set aside for dual contracts, with regions adding another £ 1 .3m a year. Wales A games to return from January, 2015.

"Sport is an important sector of our economy and has a positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Sporting events provide important shared experiences, have often been a welcome distraction during the pandemic and will be a vital player in our recovery and healing after the crisis.

"I know this money will provide some stability to those sports worst affected by the loss of revenue during the pandemic, helping to bridge the financial gap until spectators are able to return safely."

Finance minister Rebecca Evans said: "We're committed to providing a responsible and targeted approach to addressing the financial impact of the pandemic.

"The package of support we have announced takes the total funding for this sector to more than £40m since the start of the crisis, helping to provide longer-term stability for a sector that has had significant financial loss."

How much each sport in Wales is being allocated for 2020/21:

  • Rugby Union: £13.5million
  • Football: £1.5m
  • Horseracing: £1.2m
  • Cricket: £1m
  • Ice hockey: £200,000
  • Rugby League: £200,000
  • Netball: £100,000
  • Total: £17.7m

In April, the Welsh Government and Sport Wales launched an £8m Sport Resilience Fund to support sports clubs and partner networks, while that was followed by a £14m funding package in September for the sport and leisure sector.

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