Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, Catherine Martin TD and Minister of State for Sport and Gaeltacht Affairs, Jack Chambers TD, has announced an unprecedented €85 million funding package for the Irish sport sector, which has been significantly impacted by the various Covid-19 restrictions imposed since March 2020.
The funding allocated by Sport Ireland will address the existential threat to National Governing Bodies and their club networks, allowing sports organisations to off-set significant losses incurred in recent months and add a semblance of certainty to planning for 2021.
The significant investment will reach all levels of the sport sector with National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships and thousands of grassroots clubs across Ireland set to benefit.
Earlier this year Government announced funding of €70 million to protect the national sports system in Ireland. Over €64 million of funding has been allocated to National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships and other funded bodies across four key schemes.
Recognising the continually changing landscape, an Emergency Fund to the value of €5.8 million has been ring-fenced to offset losses incurred by sports organisations during the current Level 5 restrictions and the remaining period of 2020.
According to Sarah Mulligan, Longford Sports Partnership coordinator, “Longford Sports Partnership are delighted to manage this Small Club Covid 19 Grant fund on behalf of Sport Ireland for sports clubs in Longford and we were successful in being awarded €40,422 in funding for clubs.
"In total 39 clubs in Longford will benefit from this funding, they are listed here or on our website. This is a welcome boost to clubs who have had to make significant investment to make sure their sport is as safe as possible.
"We have also been successful in obtaining a further €12,000 to support our communities through this difficult time. As illustrated in the new National Campaign “Keep Well” Sport and physical activity plays such an important part in people’s health and wellbeing and we are encouraging people to Keep Active within the guidelines.”
Sport Ireland was able to meet the requests of National Governing Bodies for their club networks to the tune of €9.7 million, allowing an additional €5 million to be invested in the GAA, IRFU and FAI club networks.
In addition to the Covid-19 fund, the Government has allocated an additional €15 million to GAA, Camogie Association and Ladies Gaelic Football Association specifically for the running of the Inter-County Championships.
Minister Martin said: “The Government recognises the vital contribution that sport has made to public health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. While it is appreciated that this is a difficult time for sports organisations and individuals alike, sport has continued to respond and react to the evolving situation through innovative ways in keeping people engaged and active. The funding allocated by Sport Ireland today will protect the national sporting infrastructure and provide financial stability to the sector in the uncertain months ahead. Earlier this month I announced a significant increase in the budget for sport in 2021, which will provide further resilience to the sport sector as we look to emerge from the current crisis.”
Minister Chambers added: “Sport has demonstrated its resilience throughout the ongoing pandemic. It is important that this resilience continues into the weeks and months ahead as we look to emerge from this crisis. The funding announced today will assist our sporting organisations and clubs in getting everyone active and keeping them active. This has never been more important and is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. As we look to the future, it will ensure our high performance athletes and teams are as well prepared as possible ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Similarly, it is vital that sports organisations are ready to return to activity as soon as public health circumstances allow. ”
Key to the schemes is support of grassroots across the country through schemes delivered through Sport Ireland’s network of Local Sports Partnerships and through National Governing Bodies. Approximately €20 million will benefit thousands of clubs through the various schemes.
Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey, commented: “The funding being allocated today will provide relief for funded bodies and clubs. It will provide much needed financial stability to the entire sector and has given organisations the confidence to continue trading through these difficult times. The funding recognises the wider economic and social impact of sport and the significant costs arising from the real threat of insolvency to sporting bodies. The needs of the disability sector were specifically addressed with a dedicated group being established to examine any particular issues arising during the Covid-19 pandemic; this has been recognised in our funding allocations. While the circumstances are unfortunate, Sport Ireland’s investment in 2020 is the largest ever investment package for sport. The recent budget announcement by the Ministers has reinforced that sense of confidence that support is available and we look forward to working with our funded bodies to address their needs in 2021.”
It has been recognised that the changing environment of restrictions has resulted in uncertainty and difficulty in planning for National Governing Bodies. This has been taken into consideration by Sport Ireland with funds being ring-fenced specifically to the address this issue.
Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy, said: “The initial schemes announced in June were designed to support Organisations with Covid-19 related losses in 2020. However, having engaged with our funded bodies, we understand that the current Level 5 restrictions present additional challenges. As such, we are ring-fencing finances to address any immediate needs that may arise in the sector in the coming weeks. Sport has shown itself to be incredibly resilient throughout the Covid-19 restrictions having made a critical contribution to Irish life with more people being active than ever before. Through exemptions put in place by Government, we have been able to follow high performance and professional athletes and teams, which has provided a welcome lift to the nation. We look forward to working with the sector in the challenging weeks and months ahead, and will continue to provide ongoing support.”