Guide published to help cash-strapped clubs cope "during this difficult period"

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Football chiefs here have published a guide to help cash-strapped clubs cope with the impact of the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis. 

All football in Northern Ireland has been suspended until April 30th, with the date set to be extended further. 

NIFL release in full:

The NI Football League is aware of the challenges faced by member clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation may place some clubs in a difficult financial situation and this guide aims to signpost clubs to potential support during this difficult period.

Clubs are encouraged to use all government guidance and support available to them and this document is for general guidance only and should not be used for any other purpose. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

A grant to cover 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs (employees kept on your payroll, rather than being laid off) up to £2,500 per employee per month. Be sure to seek legal advice in relation to Professional Player Contracts.

Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme 

Exact details and eligibility criteria yet to be released but an immediate grant of £25,000 for all businesses in these sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 up to £51,000.

Small Business Support Grant Scheme

Currently sports clubs are ineligible for this one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses that are currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). We continue to lobby beside the IFA and other sports to get our clubs recognised as small businesses.

Business Rates Holiday

A three-month rates holiday for all NI business ratepayers, i.e. no rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020. This will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.

VAT Payment Deferral

The IFA coordinated a joint deferral opportunity for clubs while some availed on the deferral opportunity on an individual basis. Business payments for VAT payments may be deferred, applying from 20 March to 30 June 2020. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Time to Pay Agreements 

If you miss or are likely to miss a tax payment due to Coronavirus, contact HMRC as soon as possible – you may get more time to pay or be able to agree to pay in instalments. You must contact the HMRC.

Practical Tips

Many of our clubs have also shared knowledge and practical tips to support each other during this difficult period. Each club should investigate if these are applicable to their club.

  • Loan/Mortgage holidays – check with lender
  • Utility supplier’s deferral – check with provider
  • Insurance – some policies may cover loss of income, check with provider
  • TV subscription – some providers have suspended subscriptions, check with provider

The NI Football League will continue to endeavour to make our clubs aware of relevant support schemes and areas of savings but is mindful it is the responsibility of each individual club to seek advice on matters relating to their specific club and its need to consider any current support scheme.

Other Funding and Support

Sport NI continues to work with the Department for Communities and partners including the NI Football League, to get a fuller picture about the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on sport and respond with a phased approach to interventions and remedies. The phased approach currently looks like;

  • Phase one - existing and planned funding
  • Phase two - Hardship funding
  • Phase three - Resilience funding and support

A range of funding opportunities including programme funding to support communities during Covid-19 can be found at;

The NI Sports Forum has also been invaluable in supporting and lobbying on behalf of all sports. They too offer a signpost to potential funding;

Should any NI Football League club require further information, please contact: Steven Mills (

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