Two months after the initial announcement of funding help for clubs in steps three to six of the non-league game, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is now ready to distribute £10m in grants and another £4m in loans.
Although few clubs are thought likely to go for a loan, the chance of a direct grant will be welcomed by many clubs, who have had very little income – but still plenty of overheads – since the initial lockdown ten months ago.
Step three clubs (Isthmian premier) can apply for a maximum of £27,000, step four (Isthmian south east) £15,000, step five (SCFL premier) £10,500 and step six (SCFL division one) £7,500.
What is not known yet is whether a certain level of financial hardship will have to be shown for a club to secure funding.
Today it was reported that clubs will be able to apply for funding through the Football Foundation from tomorrow (Thursday).
The DCMS says 'funds will be distributed quickly to clubs through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund'.
Talks between the DCMS and the FA over emergency funding for many different levels of football are ongoing.
There is also £3m of grants available for women’s football clubs, while debate rages over another £11m of funds being put up for National League clubs (steps one and two of the non-league world).
As has been widely reported, National League clubs are angry that their latest aid is in the form of loans and not grants, which was their understanding when an initial £10m grant shareout was made to enable them to start the season.
Ministers are being lobbied by MPs, clubs and the FA to turn the £11m into grants.
The latest message from ministers over the National League money is that step 1 and 2 clubs will receive loans but 'can apply for grants if their imminent future is at risk & loans are unaffordable'.
The £10m shareout for step three to six clubs will be greeted by clubs like Worthing, Bognor, Horsham and Lewes, who are all at step three and who have each had no more than a handful of home matches in front of fans since March.
Cash help will come as clubs and leagues decide whether to terminate the 2020-21 season or pursue other ways of salvaging it. Results from a survey of clubs are being digested but it’s likely to be at least a week or two before a decision is made.
Despite some calling for two unfinished seasons’ results being used to promote table-topping teams, many feel another ‘null and void’ decision is inevitable.