Sport England has announced a special £5m flood relief fund to help restore pitches and repair sports facilities damaged by the recent floods and storms.
£5m of National Lottery funding will be made available to sports clubs, local authorities and other community organisations for emergency repairs to damaged facilities such as football, rugby and cricket pitches, water sports centres, pavilions, changing rooms and floodlights.
Jennie Price, CEO of Sport England, says: "The storms and floods have devastated many sports facilities across England. We want to play our part in helping communities get back to normal, and we will consult both locally and with the affected sports about the best way to achieve that."
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: "With many communities affected by the recent floods, it is good to see Sport England helping to get public sports facilities repaired. Sport plays such a huge part in bringing communities together so getting them back in a fit state for use as quickly as possible is vital."
Early indicators suggest that the biggest impact of the bad weather has been on sports such as hockey, rugby and football because of flooded and waterlogged pitches, and water sports where many clubs are on riverbanks or in coastal areas.
Sport England's first priority is to assess the full extent of the damage and consult with the worst affected areas and sports to set the priorities for the new Fund.
Commenting on the fund, Mike Gatting MD - Cricket Partnerships said: "The recent bad weather has had a devastating impact on scores of our cricket clubs nationwide. Many need immediate assistance to help clean up and mitigate against future flood damage. Helping them is a major priority for ECB and we warmly welcome Sport England's funding announcement."
Kelly Simmons, FA director of national game and women's football, says: "For many sports clubs, including football clubs, the floods have been devastating. In areas such as Somerset we've seen almost entire seasons wiped out. Ensuring that clubs have access to facilities to fulfil fixtures is a primary concern of local leagues at a time like this. The changing weather patterns we have seen in recent years have started to have a significant effect on the grassroots game - especially in relation to the on-going management and maintenance of natural grass pitches. We welcome this new fund and will endeavour to work closely with Sport England to ensure that help is directed towards those parts of the country where need is greatest."
From today, clubs, charities and similar organisations that will need help in restoring facilities are being encouraged to contact Sport England at www.sportengland.org/floodfund to register their interest. Those needing funding to clean up and get up and running quickly can request up to £2,000 of emergency funding which could be awarded within three weeks. Those with more extensive damage which will take longer to repair will be invited to apply to the fund when it opens on 24 March. Organisations that do not qualify for the Flood Relief Fund will be given advice about other sources of funding that could help.
The new £5m National Lottery fund has been created specifically to help with the damage caused by the exceptional weather, and is in addition to Sport England's other grant programmes which will continue to operate as normal. The fund will remain open until the autumn to ensure that those who are currently unable to assess the damage will not lose out.