Note to all clubs. Now is the time to lobby your MLAs make them earn their wages. Please see the information below release as of 31st March from the NI Sports Forum. Please point out that similar clubs in England are getting the support that other small businesses are getting whilst sports clubs in Northern Ireland have so far been left to fend for themselves. There may be encouraging signs of engagement but it is by no means a guarantee of forthcoming financial assistance.
The Northern Ireland Sports Forum has today written to Department of Economy to express disappointment that the sporting sector has been excluded from the £10,000 Small Business Rate Relief scheme, to request this to be reconsidered and to urge the Minister Diane Dodds to ensure that sports are eligible for the larger scheme which will award grants of £25,000 to hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. The NI Sports Forum has been inundated with concerns from members and their clubs expressing their fears over the financial viability of sports clubs in the coming months. Members are fully aware that sports organisations in England are not excluded from the Small Business Rate Relief scheme and are also going to have a 12 months rate holiday in contrast to the initial 3 month rates holiday announced recently by our Finance Minister.
We are encouraged that the Communities MInister Deirdre Hargey MLA has announced that the Department for Communities and Sport NI are working on a support package for clubs and await further detail on this. The Northern Ireland Sports Forum has asked the Communities and Economy Departments work together to find an appropriate solution to ensure the sporting sector is adequately supported to the level of other sectors impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
We are also encouraged by the level of communication and engagement from the Department for Communities and Sport NI at this difficult time alongside commitments by Sport NI to immediately release of funds allocated for 19/20 & 20/21 to sports organisations.