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Belfast Giants left awaiting clarity on their eligibility for share of Elite League's £4m bail-out funds

 

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The Belfast Giants are waiting to find out if they're in line for funds awarded by the government

The Belfast Giants are waiting to find out if they're in line for funds awarded by the government

William Cherry/Presseye

The Belfast Giants are waiting to find out if they're in line for funds awarded by the government

The Belfast Giants are hopeful that they will receive their fair share of the £4million funding awarded to the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) as part of the government's £300million 'Winter Survival Package' for sport, however questions still pertain over how the funds from the support scheme will be distributed.

The EIHL, which is currently on a long-term suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, received a major boost when it was included in the list of sports that would be given funding as clubs try to navigate what has been an extremely difficult period.

However, the league were left with more questions than answers by the announcement, with the only clarity from the government being the amount of money they'd be getting.

The Giants in particular are left waiting on confirmation that the funds, which are controlled by Sport England, will not be ringfenced specifically for the five English teams.

Logic would suggest that since the EIHL applied for funding as a league, rather than the individual clubs, the Giants would be eligible to receive their share of the aid, and the club are confident that will be the case, but the lack of clarity over how the money can be spent has left them with no official confirmation.

Another issue is that there has been no indication as to whether the funding will be handed out as a grant or as a loan, with the latter potentially leaving clubs in long-term debt having to pay it back, and there is no guarantee that the Giants would accept the money if they would rather avoid that issue, particularly since the club have no expenses at this current time.

Despite these questions, the funding is undoubtedly a positive for the sport, with this announcement confirming that ice hockey has a long-term future in the UK.

"It's nice to be recognised," said Giants head coach Adam Keefe. "We are the No.1 indoor spectator sport in the UK, it's nice to know the government recognises that and has given some money to support these clubs.

"The details are yet to be made public, so we'll see how much that impacts the clubs and the league, but it's certainly great news that the government has recognised that ice hockey has a big impact and brings in a lot of money to the economy here."

More information on how the funds are to be allocated and distributed is likely to be made clear to the EIHL today.

Belfast Telegraph


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