National League Enters Unique Partnership With National Lottery

By Oliver Osborn

National League clubs are set to receive financial support thanks to a unique deal with The National Lottery, brokered by government and The FA.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that National League clubs will receive £10 million funding as part of the partnership with The National Lottery.

The support will benefit all clubs in the fifth and six tiers of English football, so that they can continue to play behind closed doors after the return of fans was paused due to rising infection rates.

It comes after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport assured the National League that emergency financial support would be forthcoming so that it was able to start the season earlier this month. All 66 clubs are playing football this season as a result.

Dowden said: "I know from a brilliant club in my area that National League football clubs are the beating heart of their communities and too precious to lose. This £10 million fund will provide a bridge to help clubs survive this immediate crisis whilst we work together on the safe return of fans.

"I’m very grateful to National Lottery players for getting help to these community clubs so quickly".

The £10 million emergency support package, which will reach clubs via the FA, is in recognition of the important role National League clubs play in their local areas – being a source of pride to their towns, giving children opportunities to get active, and being at the heart of their communities.

Many clubs and their supporters have also been very active in their areas throughout the pandemic, rallying round to help the elderly and isolated, and raising money for front-line charities.

Mark Bullingham, FA Chief Executive, said: "This financial support is crucial as these clubs are the heartbeat of their communities and it would be a travesty if they were not able to survive. We have worked hard with the National League, Government and The National Lottery to make this happen and would like to thank everyone involved.

"The return of fans to stadiums remains a priority for us and we will continue to work with the Government and stakeholders across the game to reintroduce spectators in a safe way as soon as possible".

Funding will be distributed to each of the 66 National League clubs to help cover their lost gate revenue from the delay to fans being permitted to return, that was originally scheduled for 1 October.

The decision was taken to pause this relaxation of the rules on 22 September, in order to stem rising coronavirus infection rates across the country.

Alongside the support for clubs, National Lottery players will also get a range of benefits – including free tickets once stadia are safe to reopen, grassroots football opportunities, and VIP experiences at Wembley Stadium.

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