Premiership rugby clubs are set to receive a £88m loan from the Government as part of the latest tranche of funding from the winter phase of its Sport Survival Package.
The support will cover essential survival costs due to the lack of spectators for an extended period due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding will also allow the league to complete its 2020/21 season.
It follows the Government recently announcing more than £40m provided to support grassroots clubs, up to £5.5m to support the launch of the men’s Championship earlier this month and £1.1m for professional women’s rugby, including the Premier 15s and covid-19 related costs for the Red Roses’ Women’s Six Nations campaign.
The loan also comes after management at Leicester Tigers said the club are safe despite the multi-million pound hit of having no fans in fixtures for more than year.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “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.
“That’s why we’re helping our major spectator sports, with money already benefiting more than 100 organisations, from women’s football, to netball, badminton and basketball, 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 at the highest level, allowing the league to complete its season.”
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Darren Childs, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, added: “In our hour of need, this Government offered the financial help so urgently needed to allow Premiership Rugby clubs to continue to entertain fans with enthralling games.
“But more importantly to survive the pandemic so they can continue to play such an important role in the communities they serve.
“We have now completed almost two full seasons without fans in stadia, with the loss of matchday revenue, and that would not have been financially possible without the help of the Government’s Winter Sport Survival Package.
“When the country emerges from the pandemic the Premiership clubs will continue to play a pivotal role in the future health of the nation.
“We see these loans as a vote of confidence in Premiership Rugby and our clubs to be able to fulfil that role.
“On behalf of everyone involved in Premiership Rugby I’d like to thank Sport England, the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, HM Treasury and the Government more broadly for their work to safeguard our sport.”
Chair of the independent board, Sir Ian Cheshire, said: 2Rugby union is a sport of significant profile and one which relies on much of its income coming through spectators, so the pandemic has had an especially damaging financial impact on its top-tier men’s clubs.
“Alongside the funding that has already gone to grassroots clubs and professional women’s rugby, the confirmation of this funding for Premiership Rugby clubs is pivotal in helping these clubs continue to operate while carrying the season through to its end.”