Southport FC

Southport FC has welcomed the £10million emergency Government funding which means the 2020/21 season can continue for the clubs in the National leagues. 

And they praised Southport fans for the huge support they have shown to their club in these difficult times. 

The Sandgrounders had been expecting to welcome a limited number of fans back into the Pure Stadium this month with socially distanced measures in place for the start of the new season. 

But with just eight days to go, rising Covid-19 led the Government to introduce a number of restrictions across the country, which included a ban of spectators at sports grounds above the seventh tier. Which meant that while clubs such as Marine and Bamber Bridge can host fans at their games, Southport and others such as Chorley and Chester City cannot. 

Following discussions with the Government and the FA, a £10million package of funding has now been agreed to allow matches in the National League, National League North and National League South to take place behind closed doors this season. 

Southport FC Head of Operations James Tedford said: “When we received the news that fans would not be allowed to return to the stadium we quickly looked at the deficit we would face over the next three month (October – December).

“We calculated this to be £60,000-90,000 over the period without taking into consideration season ticket holders requesting refunds.  

“Firstly I must stress our appreciation to the fans who did not request a refund ahead of last week’s deadline. Only 15 have and that ensures, along with the grant funding, that we can continue at the same levels we had budgeted for. 

“The funding package has been driven by The FA and as such any criticism over the disparity in payments between clubs should not be directed to the National League. As a club we have always maintained that everyone should all suffer in a pandemic but no one should benefit – this simply isn’t the case. 

“If you look at Chester for example who last season had an average attendance of 2019 fans per match will receive £36,000 pcm and clubs who have an average of 500-600 fans will be in receipt of £30,000 it simply doesn’t add up. 

“As a club we are delighted and grateful for the funding as it equates to our estimated lost revenue whilst others will rejoice and some despair.”   

The emergency support will ensure that 66 clubs in the fifth and six tiers of English football can continue to play behind closed doors after the return of fans was paused due to rising Covid-19 rates.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that National League football clubs including Southport FC will receive £10 million funding as part of a unique partnership with The National Lottery.

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.

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.

Southport FC are currently ninth in the National League North, with a win and a draw from the first two games in their unbeaten start to the season. Southport secured their first Vanarama National League North victory of the season on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Chorley.

The £10 million emergency support package, which will reach clubs quickly via the Football Association (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.

“Work continues to ensure fans can return to sporting events as soon as the public health picture allows. This includes the Sports Technology Innovation Group (STIG) – made up of medical experts including Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam, sports authorities, and representatives from the tech sector – which is looking at innovative solutions to enable the return of spectators without the need for a coronavirus vaccine. The STIG will make recommendations to the government.”

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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