Non-league football clubs in the non-elite bracket to receive funding

Callum Stead in action for Hitchin Town FC

Clubs like Hitchin Town are set to receive funding from the government. - Credit: PETER ELSE

Non-league football clubs below the elite level have finally been promised grants from the government to help the through the pandemic. 

The Football Foundation will be in direct contact with the full details in what is the first award of the government’s £300 million sports winter survival package. 

The funding will come in the form of grants and will be applicable to all clubs playing between steps three and six of the non-league pyramid, the likes of Potters Bar Town, Welwyn Garden City, Hitchin Town, Royston Town and those playing in the Spartan South Midlands League, Eastern Counties League and Essex Senior League.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We promised to support sports and target help to where it’s most needed. Today we continue to deliver on that with further support for National League football clubs. 

“The National League has already benefited from the Government support schemes through a £10 million Government-brokered cash partnership with the National Lottery, and there will be more support for the bigger clubs on the way. 

“The £10 million grant for lower league clubs will act as a lifeline for around 850 clubs in towns and cities across England, and help these clubs through this difficult period until we can get fans back in safely.” 

Clubs will be assessed on the basis of need, with grants available where loans are demonstrated to be unaffordable for individual clubs in line with the support offered for other sports. 

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Chair of the independent board, Sir Ian Cheshire said: “As the sport and physical activity sector continues to navigate trying times, this package of government support is vitally important in ensuring that clubs, sports and leagues who are reliant on revenue from spectators can continue to stay afloat." 

The announcement also confirmed that National League clubs at step one and two will be offered loans and not grants. 

They had received a £10 grant for the last three months of 2020 but the next round of funding, totalling £11m, would come as "very low-interest, long-term loans". 

Huddleston said: “With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League [clubs] in the form of loans. 

"However, if clubs at those levels can demonstrate they need grant funding urgently to survive, we will ensure that option is available. We will not let clubs go to the wall. 

"Applications will be assessed by the independent board, through the same rigorous process that we apply to other sports.”