The British government has announced that racing will receive £40 million, or approximately $53 million, in direct aid, mainly as loans, as part of wider financial support for major spectator sports in England, focusing particularly on those areas most severely affected by the loss of crowds due to the pandemic.
Sport minister Nigel Huddleston is scheduled to make a statement to the House of Commons Nov. 19 detailing what it terms a ‘winter survival package’ worth £300 million, with Rugby Union, women’s football and the lower tiers of the Football League all due to receive a share alongside racing.
The emergency funding is not a blank check, with much of the money being composed of government loans.
“Sport is a key part of our national life, an important contributor to our economy and a key hub within many communities,” said Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury.
“Protecting that sporting heritage and supporting as many jobs within the sports sector as possible is an important step in ensuring that our economy can bounce back from the impacts of the Covid pandemic. Alongside this financial support, we now need to ensure that fans can return to sports events as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The BHA made its submission to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for financial aid at the beginning of October.
A BHA statement said: “We welcome the announcement by @DCMS that up to £40 million of loans will be made available for British racing. This recognizes racing’s position as the UK’s second-biggest spectator sport, the many livelihoods it supports, and the financial peril faced across our industry.
“Working with racecourses and horsemen, the BHA put in a detailed submission to government in October. This included an assessment of the economic impact of the absence of spectators for a further six months until the end of March.”
Rugby Union as a whole has been allocated £135 million while the payout to football is below the level of that granted to racing at £28m.
Greyhound racing has also been offered £1 million, while Premier League Football and cricket have not been included in the scheme.
David Hunter, chief executive at Fakenham, welcomed the government action and praised the efforts of the RCA and BHA.
Hunter said:”This loan scheme will be extremely well received by all racecourses and it will be a great asset to get us through these tricky times. Great credit must go to the RCA and British racing for putting the case to government for this scheme.
“Loans are preferable to grants and we’ll have a look and see if we need to apply. People shouldn’t apply for the sake of it, however, as some may need it more than others.”