Club left baffled by sums handed out to teams from Covid-19 support fund

A rugby club president says he and his members are “baffled, bewildered, and dumbfounded” by the sums handed out to teams from a Covid-19 support fund.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 8:36 am
Updated Monday, 5th April 2021, 1:28 pm
Rugby Ball by U ncle Saiful

Stephen McQuaid, president of Dromore Rugby Football Club, made the comments after both the News Letter and the ‘Nolan Show’ reported last week on the wildly varying sums parcelled out to Irish League teams, even though they occupied the same division.

The money came from a support scheme called the Sports Sustainability Fund, which was managed by public body Sport NI.

The way it worked was that the governing bodies for various sports – like the GAA or IFA – applied to Sport NI on behalf of individual clubs.

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In the Irish Premiership, this translated into a team like Larne (which is already backed by a multi-millionaire business tycoon) getting £453,000, while Portadown was left with a mere £114,000.

Even popular and high-achieving club Cliftonville got only £184,000, in contrast to top funding recipients Crusaders, who were handed over £541,000.

Both Larne and Crusaders had told the News Letter that the funding received was reflective of club losses, and that some clubs would naturally have higher spectator numbers than others, for instance.

Dr McQuaid’s rugby club was given around £3,500 as part of the coronavirus support scheme.

But he told the News Letter: “Other clubs who play in the same league as us got £40k or £50k.

“We’re just dumbfounded as to how; some clubs seem to have similar set-ups in terms of numbers of teams playing, membership, and so on.

“When I looked at the list of what IFA clubs got, you just scratch your head in disbelief at clubs who seem to have a similar sort of set-up getting ridiculously different amounts of money.

“Other than expressing, which we already have done to the IRFU, our dissatisfaction, I’m not sure where this can be taken.

“My message to Sport NI is can they be as transparent as possible about the allocation of the funds?

“[There is] a sense of shock and I’m dumbfounded by the discrepancies, by the amounts given out to different clubs within our own league.”

Sport NI had been contacted for comment by the News Letter, but no response had been received at time of writing.

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