Lower registration numbers cited as the main reason for financial shortfalls
Provincial sport organizations that suffered through financial pitfalls as a result of COVID-19 will have an opportunity to recoup some funding through a provincial government program announced Monday.
Bernard Davis, the minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation, the department which encompasses sport and recreation,announced a $2-million COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Sport.
The funding, announced at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre in St. John’s, is part of a $72-million federal financial relief package to assist the sport sector.
To be eligible for funding assistance, a provincial sport or recreation organization must be recognized/funded by the provincial government.
“Most sports receive government funding, but registration fees are the bread and butter in terms of revenue stream.” — Troy Croft
Sport Newfoundland and Labrador executive director Troy Croft said the fund will help sports cover expenses incurred during COVID-19.
“Mainly, that’s due to a decrease in revenues because of (a lack of) registration,” Croft said. “Any loss of revenue they would have had, they can now apply to have recovered.”
Applying for funding is a two-phase process, with Oct. 31 the deadline for the Phase I application, and Dec. 31 for Phase II.
“If the sports haven’t been able to operate,” Croft said, “this will give them a chance to apply for funding so they can get operational.”
COVID-19 resulted in many sports starting later than usual this past summer. In some cases — specifically the 2020 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games, Royal St. John’s Regatta and the annual Tely 10-Mile Road Race — events were cancelled or postponed.
“PSOs (provincial sport organizations) certainly faced challenges,” Croft said. “With regards to summer sports, the (registration) numbers were down. Some sports were not even operational due to liability and those types of things.
“But for the most part, it’s typically been the lack of registration numbers causing loss of revenue because, No. 1, they were late starting their programs because facilities weren’t open, and No. 2 ... the low registration numbers.
“Most sports receive government funding, but registration fees are the bread and butter in terms of revenue stream.”
A number of minor sports across the province were on “reduced operations” over the summer, and didn’t offer play in the younger divisions, which translated to a loss of revenue through registration.
St. John’s minor soccer didn’t offer a house league program this past summer, meaning some 600 kids from under seven to U15 did not play house league.
On top of that, a large influx of money was required to prepare for a new season. Money, which was not budgeted for, was needed to pay for signage and sanitizers at soccer facilities, and personal protection equipment for those who did the sanitizing.
“It’s $1,000 off the top before we do anything,” said St. John’s Soccer Club president Brian Murphy back in June. “It’s a major expense.”
Under the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Sport, that’s money which can be recouped.