Sport is central to the fabric of Scottish society but doubts remain over aid from UK government

Public funding for sport will need to prioritise organisations which are battling for survival, according to sportscotland.

Scottish ice hockey clubs look set to miss out on UK Government funding.
Scottish ice hockey clubs look set to miss out on UK Government funding.

The national sports agency is working to identify clubs and organisations which are in most need of funding in order to avert any immediate danger.

The difficulties facing Scottish sport were underlined on Thursday when the Elite Ice Hockey League stated that the £4 million injection promised by the UK Government could only be distributed to the five English clubs in the 10-team set-up.

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A £300m package was announced for sports in England last week but there has been no clarity on how that extra funding will transmit to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “We are continuing to work with a range of SGBs (sports governing bodies) and the Scottish Government to fully understand the immediate financial challenges faced across the sector including the impact of lost income in relation to spectator sports.

“This is a worrying time for many organisations but any financial support that may be available will need to be prioritised to help the survival of those most affected by the pandemic rather than as a replacement for projected lost income.

“It is vital that everyone comes together in the interests of all Scottish sport as we try to find solutions to problems caused by a global pandemic which sadly continues to have a very real effect on people and communities across the country.

“Sport is central to the fabric of Scottish society and we will continue to work with all key stakeholders to try to identify a viable and fair way forward that is in the best interests of all Scottish sport.”

The Scottish Government announced it was seeking urgent clarity on the funding implications immediately after the cash injection for English sport was detailed last Thursday. Extra funds for England would normally trigger payments to Scotland under the Barnett Formula.

However, there are doubts about whether there will be a knock-on effect, especially as about five-sixths of the £300m injection is understood to be in the form of loans.

When the announcement was made, the Department of Culture Media and Sport said: “The devolved administrations have been provided with an upfront guarantee this year of £16billion above their Spring Budget 2020 funding to support their response to Covid-19.

“It is for the devolved administrations to decide how to use this funding irrespective of how UK government provides support in England.”

The EIHL called for the devolved governments to assess funding options for Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan as soon as possible.

Sportscotland is working with ice hockey as well as the likes of basketball and netball to identify the most pressing issues while it remains in contact with football and rugby.

Sportscotland has previously accelerated £32.4m of funding from the Scottish Government and National Lottery to support governing bodies and local partners, and launched a £1.5million support fund.

The Scottish Government was recently told that the pandemic had cost sport in the country £100m with the bulk of that in football.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster this week warned that the continuing absence of fans would spell the “death knell” for some clubs and called for talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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