(Reuters) - Premiership Rugby clubs will receive a loan of 88 million pounds ($121.32 million) from the British government as part of its Sport Survival Package, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said on Saturday.
Sport has suffered financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic as games continue to be held behind closed doors with fans locked out in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
Professional rugby teams largely rely on matchday income from ticket sales to remain solvent and the DCMS said this funding would help the league complete the 2020-21 season.
“We know that the restrictions on spectators continue to have consequences for many sports. That includes Rugby Union and its clubs at the elite level through to the grassroots,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement.
“That’s why we’re helping our major spectator sports, with money already benefiting more than 100 organisations... with more to follow as we navigate our roadmap back to normality.
“This funding will support the survival and continued visibility of men’s domestic rugby union at the highest level, allowing the league to complete its season.”
The government had last month announced a multi-million pound winter survival package for women’s sport to boost the finances of netball, soccer, badminton and basketball.
“We have now completed almost two full seasons without fans in stadia with the loss of matchday revenue,” Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs said.
“That would not have been financially possible without the help of the government’s Winter Sport Survival Package.”
($1 = 0.7254 pounds)
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Pritha Sarkar
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