A total of £4 million is up for grabs with the launch of a dedicated fund from the The Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) for sporting organisations seeking finance.
UCIT, one of the UK’s largest providers of social finance, has already provided £7m to 70 clubs across Ireland, helping deliver new training facilities, clubhouses and state-of-the-art pitches. The new fund will commit a further £4m to the local sporting sector over the next five years.
Recent beneficiaries include Naomh Pól CLG and Shorts Sports and Recreation Club in Belfast which together have received £350,000 to support major community investments.
“The way in which the sporting sector is funded has changed rapidly over the past decade,” said UCIT associate director Phelim Sharvin.
“With less grant funding from Government available and less capacity from high street banks, groups are increasingly relying on social finance.
“UCIT can provide sporting clubs with a bespoke service to help them access finance which takes into account the needs of the sector. Tailored finance is available to support a wide range of purposes including property acquisition, capital build projects, equipment purchase and restructuring of existing debt.”
“Our vision is to work with clubs to help them remain as a hub at the heart of their local communities.”
Since its inception in 2001 the charity, has provided loan commitments totalling over £60m to over 400 third sector organisations in Northern Ireland.
Shorts Sports and Recreation Club received a loan from UCIT to help it acquire a 14-acre site.
The club has an active history in east Belfast and the funding will help it further develop facilities offering a range of sports and recreational activities.
UCIT has also supported a number of GAA clubs including Naomh Pól CLG in west Belfast.
The financial assistance, with further support from a range of other funders, has facilitated the construction of a 3G facility and a standing terrace for the main playing pitch.
David Gibson, chairman of Shorts Sports and Recreation Club, said: “This club has been serving the community of east Belfast for almost 80 years, providing three playing pitches, a bowling green, a health and fitness suite as well as space for local societies.”
Caroline McLaughlin, project officer, Naomh Pól CLG, said: “As a club we are moving forward and are delighted with our new facilities to support our continued success.”