The COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme is a matter for my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. His Department has confirmed that sports clubs and groups are not eligible for the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme.
Regarding support from my Department, a Covid-19 funding package of €85 million was provided last year to support the sport sector. This significant investment benefited all levels of the sport sector, including thousands of grassroots clubs across the country, and provided some certainty for sporting organisations in their planning for 2021.
In addition to funding allocated to National Governing Bodies of Sport to enable them to support their affiliated clubs, assistance was given to 1,637 clubs throughout the country as part of small grant schemes operated by Local Sports Partnerships. These schemes provided an additional mechanism to support community groups and clubs who may not be affiliated to a national organisation or recognised National Governing Body but who provide a vital local service.
I fully recognise that the financial and operational challenges associated with Covid-19 will continue well into 2021 and that many clubs will find themselves in financial difficulty again this year. Additional funding was allocated for Sport Ireland in Budget 2021 to continue to support our valued sport sector. This includes funding to provide for supports to the sector to meet the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Decisions in relation to how funding will be allocated and the criteria to be applied will be made by Sport Ireland in due course.
In that regard, Sport Ireland is in ongoing communication with the National Governing Bodies of sport and is assessing the financial needs of the sector for the year ahead. In addition. I am engaging with the National Governing Bodies both bilaterally and through the Covid-19 Sports Monitoring Group, which met most recently on 28 January, in regard to any supports which may be required in the period ahead.