The heads of more than 100 sports bodies including the Premier League, the Football Association (FA), Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for emergency funding, cautioning "a lost generation of activity" because of the pandemic.
The various organisations said in their statement that they were "united in our concern that at a time when our role should be central to the nation's recovery, the future of the sector is perilous".
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A number of sports have urged the government to allow fans into sporting arenas from October 1, with a decision due this week. However, it has been reported by the BBC that there is very little chance that the government will allow that and may even ask that pilot events be paused.
“Covid–19 has exposed the fragility of vital services and assets, with sports clubs and fitness facilities facing permanent closure, depriving local communities of facilities and programmes on which they depend,” the letter written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
Sport England has provided £200m for emergencies, many sectors believe there is a need for more emergency funding. "This package must combine investment, tax incentives, and regulatory reform. Covid-19 has undermined our commercial revenue streams with both stadiums and leisure facilities closed or greatly reduced in capacity. The impact of this will potentially lead to a lost generation of sport and activity.”
The coalition of sporting bodies has highlighted that “physical activity levels, especially in the most vulnerable groups, are significantly below where they were tracking pre-Covid-19."
The letter highlights that sport and physical activity contributes more than £16bn and provides at least 600,000 jobs to the people in the UK. A huge number of clubs, sporting bodies and facilities have had to lay off or furlough their staff in the wake of the pandemic and the inevitable closure of venues and facilities.
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The RFU is likely to make 139 staff redundant soon in an attempt to cope with £107m in lost revenue due to fixtures being played in empty stadiums. Earlier this month, the Premier League had written a letter to the government saying football clubs will lose £100m a month if spectators are not allowed to come to the stadiums.
Swim England have reported that 22% of public pools remain closed and all those open have reduced capacity. Industry bodies Community Leisure UK and UK Active estimate leisure centres, swimming pools and community services face a shortfall of more than £800m this year.
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch said that the problem wasn’t about a gym, a pool or people on a court or field. "This is about the whole ecosystem that supports sport, fitness and leisure and, if we're not careful, historic clubs and the jobs that support them will be lost, potentially for good. If the government is going to shut sport down then it needs to provide a package of support to stop its decimation."
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