Tuesday 22 September 2020 10:18 am

UK sports bodies call for emergency government support

Britain’s leading sports bodies have called for emergency government support to prop them up through a second wave of coronavirus, as ministers prepare to scrap the scheduled reopening of stadiums across the country. 

A coalition of more than 100 organisations including the Premier League, Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board have written to the Prime Minister warning that “the future of the sector is perilous”.

The government today announced that plans for spectators to return to sports venues from 1 October will be halted, as the Prime Minister makes swift changes to curb a rapid increase in the rate of coronavirus infections. 

In a joint letter, the UK’s major sporting bodies have demanded a financial rescue package to avoid a “lost generation of sport and activity” across the country.

“This package must combine investment, tax incentives, and regulatory reform,” the letter read.

“Covid-19 has undermined our commercial revenue streams with both stadiums and leisure facilities closed or greatly reduced in capacity.”

The sports bodies’ demands match a similar package worth £1.57bn handed to the arts sector in July, as theatres, cinemas and museums remained shuttered during the pandemic. 

The Premier League has warned its clubs face more than £540m of lost revenue due to limitations on spectator numbers, with the figure set to rise now that forecasted October tickets have been cancelled. 

In their letter to Boris Johnson, the sporting bodies argued that sport and physical activity contribute more than £16bn and 600,000 jobs to the UK economy.

“Our sector will be at the forefront of your plans to improve the health and wellbeing of all communities… to solving societal issues…including reducing health inequalities, tackling obesity, cutting crime, easing loneliness, and enhancing social cohesion,” read the letter.

It added: “But to do so effectively, we require your government’s backing.”

Read more: Exclusive: Premier League Covid-19 testing firm raises $15m for UK rollout

Lisa Wainwright, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: “The strength of this coalition from the sports, recreation and activity sector cannot be ignored in its public call to the Prime Minister.

“The pandemic has put an incredible strain on our sector, which was forced to close for a prolonged period.

“It is imperative that our sector gets the support it requires from the government to get back to business, in order to ease the pressures on the NHS and play a central role in our nation’s recovery.”

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