The Welsh Government will provide aid amounting to £2.7 million to each of Wales’ four rugby regions. According to an announcement published on Monday morning, Welsh rugby will be handed £13.5m as part of a £17.7m spectator sport relief fund prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been confirmed that the sum will be distributed between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union in an even split, which leaves professional rugby poised to benefit from a combined £10.8 million.
Per reports, football, horse racing, cricket, netball, and ice hockey are all set to benefit as well, with money to be allocated to the sports’ national governing bodies.
Sports in Wales have taken a huge hit from the coronavirus as fans haven’t been allowed to spectate games from the comforts of various stadiums for nearly a year. As such, the government has stepped in to assist and rugby will be the discipline set to rake in the most funding. The union was left with the decision where it pertains to distribution. The cash is intended to help Welsh sports throughout the winter season; the country has already named a squad to represent it in the Guinness Six Nations Championship next month.
The country’s four regions, which include the Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys, Scarlets, and Dragons, all stand to benefit, as well as a number of the grassroots clubs which have suffered a loss of revenue that would have otherwise been collected through the sales of match tickets.
“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,” a statement from the government reads.
“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.”
Last week, Wales named its 36-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship. The event is set to begin early next month and bettors would likely benefit from a review of BetOnline heading into the tournament. The team has one uncapped player in Josh Macleod of the Scarlets, who was named to the autumn squad in 2020 but was unable to feature due to a subsequent injury.
Football will get the most get financial support after rugby. The FAW will be responsible for the distribution of £1.5m, but the likes of Cardiff City and Swansea City won’t be among clubs to receive funding. Newport County, also under the English system, won’t be in receipt of funds either due to these outfits getting support directly from the leagues in which they compete.
Last month, the Premier League and English Football League agreed on a £250m rescue package for EFL clubs. The EFL was assisted in getting a loan of £200m for Championship sides and a £50m grant for clubs competing in Leagues One and Two.
That was on the back of a £300m rescue package announced by the UK Government in November, which included £135m for rugby. Premier League clubs weren’t part of this emergency funding, nor was the English Football League.
“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,” deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said.
“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.”
“We’re committed to providing a responsible and targeted approach to addressing the financial impact of the pandemic,” Finance minister Rebecca Evans added.
“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.
Last April, the Welsh Government and Sport Wales set up an £8m Sport Resilience Fund to support sports clubs and partner networks. A £14m funding package for the sport and leisure sector followed in September.
The distribution with regards to the latest package is as follows:
Rugby Union: £13.5million, football: £1.5m, horse racing: £1.2m, cricket: £1m, ice hockey: £200,000, rugby league: £200,000, and netball: £100,000.