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More than 100 sports chiefs plead with Boris Johnson for emergency funds to save industry

More than 100 sports chiefs, including Premier League and FA bosses, have written to Boris Johnson pleading for emergency funds to prop-up the industry in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The leaders of the sports bodies are warning that the future of the sector is ‘perilous’, but that government funding will help avoid a ‘lost generation of activity’.

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In a letter, reportedly seen by BBC Sport, the group has urged the Prime Minister to provide a ‘sports recovery fund’ in order to help the industry endure the prolonged effects of the pandemic.

It comes after teams, tournament holders and sports venues across the country suffered a shock loss in revenue due to the postponement of all sports fixtures at the height of the pandemic earlier this year.

Clubs are also facing the prolonged impact of a loss of match day revenue, with only a small number of fans returning to a handful of sports fixtures following the easing of lockdown in August.

Plans by the government to review the partial return of fans to all sports stadiums on October 1 could also be postponed following a spike in cases across the UK, according to reports today. 

More than 100 sports chief have written to Boris Johnson pleading for emergency funds to prop-up the industry in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Lisa Wainwight (pictured left), chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said such support was ‘imperative’

In a letter, reportedly seen by BBC Sport, the group has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) to provide a 'sports recovery fund' in order to help the industry endure the prolonged effects of the pandemic

In a letter, reportedly seen by BBC Sport, the group has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) to provide a ‘sports recovery fund’ in order to help the industry endure the prolonged effects of the pandemic

Clubs are also facing the prolonged impact of a loss of match day revenue, with only a small number of fans returning to a handful of sports fixtures following the easing of lockdown in August. Fans are yet to return to Premier League matches, such as Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Manchester City last night (pictured)

Clubs are also facing the prolonged impact of a loss of match day revenue, with only a small number of fans returning to a handful of sports fixtures following the easing of lockdown in August. Fans are yet to return to Premier League matches, such as Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Manchester City last night (pictured)

The letter by sports bosses, written by organisations including the Football Association, Premier League, Rugby Football Union and England and Wales Cricket Board, reportedly states: ‘We require a comprehensive support package for the sport and physical sector to aid its recovery.

‘This package must combine investment, tax incentives, and regulatory reform.

German football fans allowed to return to stadiums for start of Bundesliga season 

By Kit Holden for MailOnline 

As the Bundesliga returned to action on Saturday, so did its fans, many of them for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Germany’s capital city, Berlin, where local rules allow mass events of up to 5,000 people, matchday at Bundesliga minnows Union Berlin almost felt like a proper matchday again.

Albeit one with considerably smaller crowds. 

Of the 22,000 fans who would normally cram into the Alte Foersterei, only 4,600 were allowed in this weekend, with tickets allocated via a lottery among season-ticket holders. 

For those who did come, there were restrictions aplenty.

Masks were compulsory when walking to and from your seat, while new painted markings ensured social distancing in the standing areas.

There was also a ban on beer in the stadium.

Despite the delight of fans to return, Union Berlin lost the game 3-1 to Augsburg.

‘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.’

Lisa Wainwight, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, told the BBC: ‘The strength of this coalition from the sports, recreation and activity sector cannot be ignored in its public call to the prime minister.

‘It is imperative that our sector gets the support it requires from the government to get back to business, in order to ease the pressures on the NHS and play a central role in our nation’s recovery.’

The letter comes as the government today announced it had delayed plans to partially return fans to all sports stadiums on October 1 due to the recent spike in Covid cases.

And football fans were today warned they may not be able to return to stadiums until 2021, with fears growing that the entire season could be played behind closed doors as the Government backtrack on their plans to allow supporters back in next month. 

Pilot events have been taking place with a maximum of 1,000 fans in each stadium, with the intention of returning all venues to 30 per cent capacity by the start of next month.

There here have been a number of test events with spectators returning to sport from matches in football’s pre-season, including a friendly between Premier League sides Chelsea and Brighton, as well as snooker at The Crucible and cricket matches at The Oval and Edgbaston. 

But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove confirmed this morning that measures have been shelved for now.

‘We’ve been piloting some open air venues and we do want to be able in due course to allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events,’ Mr Gove told Sky News.

‘We need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate.’

The move comes in light of increasing restrictions imposed by the Government from Thursday amid fears of a strong second wave of Covid-19 this autumn.  

The government had planned to allow teams to let in 30 per cent of a venue's capacity - but this was later cut to a maximum of 1,000 spectators. Pictured: Fans watch a friendly between Brighton and Chelsea at the Amex Stadium

The government had planned to allow teams to let in 30 per cent of a venue’s capacity – but this was later cut to a maximum of 1,000 spectators. Pictured: Fans watch a friendly between Brighton and Chelsea at the Amex Stadium 

There here have been a number of test events with spectators returning to sport from matches in football's pre-season, including a friendly between Premier League sides Chelsea and Brighton (pictured)

There here have been a number of test events with spectators returning to sport from matches in football’s pre-season, including a friendly between Premier League sides Chelsea and Brighton (pictured) 

Snooker fans were also allowed back to the Crucible earlier this year as part of a trial event

Snooker fans were also allowed back to the Crucible earlier this year as part of a trial event

Meanwhile, MP Steve Brine, who is a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has revealed that all sport – including Premier League football – is likely to continue without supporters until at least the start of next year.

Sports fans are unlikely to return to stadiums until NEXT YEAR and there is no guarantee of ANY venues opening up this season after the government shelved plans to relax their ban on spectators 

Football fans may not be able to return to stadiums until 2021, with fears growing that the entire season could be played behind closed doors as the Government backtrack on their plans to allow supporters back in next month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the partial return of fans to all sports stadiums on October 1 due to the recent spike in Covid cases. 

And MP Steve Brine, who is a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has revealed that all sport – including Premier League football – is likely to continue without supporters until at least the start of next year.

He told talkSPORT: ‘It is very, very possible we will see fans inside stadiums this season. It is diminishingly small chances now that that will happen in 2020.

‘As much as we love it, as much as we may enjoy going to live sport, it is not essential and it is the social contact that we are probably going to have to sacrifice this year.’

Pilot events have been taking place with a maximum of 1,000 fans in each stadium, with the intention of returning all venues to 30 per cent capacity by the start of next month. 

But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove confirmed this morning that this has been shelved for now. The move comes in light of increasing restrictions imposed by the Government from Thursday amid fears of a strong second wave of Covid-19 this autumn.

Mr Johnson announced a wave of new measures designed to crackdown on the spread of coronavirus on Tuesday and warned that they could last up to six months, putting the return of football fans to stadiums this season in doubt.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Finally we have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events, so we will not be able to do this from 1st October and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs which are the life and soul of our communities.’ 

He told talkSPORT: ‘It is very, very possible we will see fans inside stadiums this season. It is diminishingly small chances now that that will happen in 2020.

 ‘As much as we love it, as much as we may enjoy going to live sport, it is not essential and it is the social contact that we are probably going to have to sacrifice this year.’

Meanwhile, plans to reintroduce fans to horse racing events were scuppered earlier this month when a pilot event to allow a small number of spectators for the final three days of races at the St Leger Festival in Doncaster.

The decision to pull the plug is thought to have cost £250,000 in lost revenue.

But that is little compared to report which suggest Britain’s 59 racing tracks lost £8million a month while the sport was locked down and have continued to lose £4m while they race behind closed doors.

Average revenue from racegoers is 47 per cent of their overall racecourse income and that rise to around 60 per cent for the bigger tracks with larger crowds and meatier hospitality spend.

Rugby and cricket too have struggled with a loss of income from match-day revenue. 

In July, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced it was planning to make 139 staff redundant as it tries to cope with £107million in lost revenue.

Last week, the English Cricket Board (ECB) said it had lost £100million already this year and planned to make 62 job cuts.

The Premier League, the richest football league in the world, says it stands to lose £100million-a-month while games are played behind closed doors.

But while established Premier League clubs have other large income streams, such as merchandise and TV revenue, other professional and semi-professional sports teams, who rely on match-day income, have been particularly badly hit. 

Last month, a group of MPs, led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, urged the Government to allow limited crowds at National League football matches this season, while warning of the ‘perilous future’ that those clubs are facing. 

Meanwhile, analysis from the District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 authorities across the country, found local leisure services had taken a £180million hit as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

The group warned the overall financial loss facing the sector could reach £305million by the end of year, leaving many leisures centres at risk from going bust.

The warning comes as a group representing leisure trusts in Wales said public pools and sports centres could be at risk of closing without more government money. 

Community Leisure UK told the BBC that 15 cultural and leisure facilities in Wales were at risk of closure due to a loss of revenue from when sports facilities were forced to close at the height of the pandemic. 

The Welsh Government said it had given extra money but the Welsh Local Government Association said long-term funding was needed.

Meanwhile, analysis from the District Councils' Network (DCN), which represents 187 authorities across the country, found local leisure services had taken a £180million hit as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Pictured: Gym equipment is taped off to ensure social distancing

Meanwhile, analysis from the District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 authorities across the country, found local leisure services had taken a £180million hit as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Pictured: Gym equipment is taped off to ensure social distancing

Today Mr Johnson will unveil a major crackdown on normal life in a bid to halt a second wave of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister will drop his ‘back to work’ drive, announce restrictions on socialising and impose a 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants from Thursday.

Pubs and other venues will be allowed to serve seated customers only and drinkers will be banned from gathering in crowds. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said yesterday it was crucial to break ‘unnecessary links between households’.

In a gloomy televised briefing yesterday, Mr Whitty said restrictions may have to last for six months to help the NHS cope through the winter.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told the briefing without action, Covid cases could hit 50,000 a day by the middle of next month, with deaths hitting 200 a day by November.

The number of confirmed cases reported for Sunday rose by 4,368, up from 3,899 the previous day. There were 11 more deaths.

MailOnline has contacted the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport and the Cabinet Office for comment on the letter by sports chiefs.

The Cabinet Office has asked MailOnline to contact The Treasury for comment. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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