£100,000 SFA grant will help the amateur game

Campbeltown Pupils AFC in action at Kintyre Park. 
Campbeltown Pupils AFC in action at Kintyre Park. 

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Campbeltown Pupils AFC has welcomed the release of funding from the Scottish Government to the Scottish Football Association (SFA) aimed at protecting the game at all levels and to assist clubs to survive through these unprecedented times.

The entire grant of £100,000 will be passed on to member clubs in recognition of the negative impact that Covid-19 has had at grassroots level, both in terms of finance and the major restrictions on recreational football. The SFA has agreed that the Scottish Amateur Football Association (SAFA) should benefit from the government funding being made available.

Pupils chairman Alex McKinven told the Courier: ‘Like all other sports, football in general has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, not only at senior level, but in all grades of the game right across the board. Over the last few months we have all searched for any news that could suggest the game was about to start again – but unfortunately things have simply gone from bad to worse!

‘The news that the Scottish Government has allocated a support package to the SFA, and that £100,000 of funding has been passed on to the SAFA for distribution among its members, was met with enthusiasm and gratitude by everyone at amateur level.

‘The funding will be passed directly to SAFA member clubs in the form of relief of annual fees and so on; good news for both winter and summer league clubs to help kick-start what will now be an admission-free new campaign.’

While the 2020/21 season has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the SAFA remains confident football will return during the current 2020/21 season and the 2021 summer season.

Like everyone else, it has no idea when exactly that will be due to the ever-changing situation. However, it hopes these funding decisions will ensure that 2021 will be a better year for amateur football as everyone tries to recover from Covid-19.

SAFA president Stuart Urquhart said: ‘We all hope that the virus situation will improve quickly in the weeks ahead to allow amateur football to return in all parts of the country.

‘The SAFA would like to thank the SFA and the Scottish Government for this funding allocation.’

Last week, the SFA held extensive consultations with representatives of leagues and clubs affected by the temporary suspension announced on Monday, January 11.

This process has been beneficial in understanding the specific challenges faced by clubs at those levels within the men’s and women’s games, in particular understanding the key components required to facilitate return to play when it is safe to do so.

Given that current lockdown measures implemented by the First Minister will now remain in place across Scotland until at least the middle of February, the existing temporary suspension will be extended until midnight on Sunday, February 14.  This affects all amateur leagues and leagues with predominantly part-time clubs – although a number of full-time clubs have been affected.

The SFA will continue to work with those affected to develop league and division- specific plans for a return to training and playing on a progressive basis.

A further update will be communicated to the clubs by Wednesday, February 10.