Leading figures from across Scottish sport have met to discuss the continued impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the role the sport sector will play in the nation’s long-term recovery from the pandemic.
Members of the Scottish Governing Bodies Chief Executive Officers Forum were joined by Minister for Public Health and Sport, Mairi Gougeon, and Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, at the virtual meeting.
The SGB CEO Forum represents 35 sports including athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, golf, gymnastics, netball, swimming, triathlon and volleyball. It was established to develop a greater collective approach across sports and to help shape a collaborative response to the pandemic.
Some of the challenges faced by Scottish sport, such as financial viability, access to facilities and SGB membership levels, were discussed at the meeting. The Forum expressed a firm commitment to using the power of sport and physical activity to assist in the recovery from COVID-19 and to help support the economy, health and wellbeing, education and social fabric of the nation.
Public Health and Sport Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “We know that being active is one of the best ways to improve or maintain our physical and mental wellbeing, and this has been particularly so during the pandemic. As we start to carefully ease lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress the virus, there is no doubt that sport will play a central role in Scotland’s recovery.
“Recognising the significant effect that the pandemic has had on the sport sector, the Scottish Government has provided a £55 million emergency funding package, allowing clubs to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.
“Our continuing collaboration with the sector is vital as we work to tackle the issues facing sports clubs as a result of COVID-19. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Sports Governing Bodies, who have worked tirelessly to ensure sport can continue to operate safely within the restrictions.”
Chair of the SGB CEO Forum, Vinny Bryson, said: “It was important to have the opportunity to speak with the Minister for Sport about the challenges facing the sector but also to outline how SGBs can be a part of the solution. For the Minister to listen to 35 Scottish Sports Governing Body CEOs and hear one collective voice is powerful and demonstrates our shared commitment to using the #PowerOfSport as part of the national recovery efforts of our nation.
“We are all keen to play our part in restarting and shaping the future of sport as we emerge from the COVID-19 restrictions over the next few months and today’s discussions will support this approach. All our Governing Bodies are keen to have the clubs and members they represent at the heart of the nation’s mental and physical recovery from this pandemic. For the nation to rebuild and thrive again, it must be an active one.”
Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “It has been a year like no other for Scottish sport but the sector has shown remarkable resilience in how it has responded. This is the most difficult situation we have experienced but the sporting system, particularly SGBS, has done an exceptional job.
“We need to recover, rebuild and restart with confidence. I fully believe that we will do that, when the time is right, because we have a system that is committed to working together to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. There is a lot of hard work still to be done but we will get through this together.”
Today’s meeting comes just three months after the Scottish Government announced a £55million emergency funding package for spectator sports, to help them deal with the financial burden of lost ticket income.
Across the financial year, a total of £32.4million has been accelerated to local and national partners by sportscotland, helping protect up to 1,600 jobs across the sector, while delivery targets were also relaxed. The national agency has also created a £1.5million Scottish Governing Body (SGB) COVID-19 Recovery Support Fund, which is being delivered with National Lottery funding.