Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
50. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has met with an organisation (details supplied) to discuss improving stadiums and academy infrastructure for clubs participating in a competitive league; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46121/22]
I have regularly engaged with the FAI, League of Ireland clubs and grassroots clubs in relation to their priorities for the upgrading of sports facilities and sport capital funding.
In relation to my Department's responsibilities, two schemes provide capital grant assistance for the development and improvement of sports facilities.
The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. Over 13,000 projects, including many football developments, have now benefited from funding since 1998, bringing the total allocations in that time to over €1.15 billion. The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCEP and to prioritising the investment in disadvantaged areas.
The 2020 round of the SCEP closed for applications on Monday 1 March 2021 and by the deadline a record 3,106 applications were submitted. The final allocations under this latest round were announced in May of this year and the total allocation of over €166 million represented the highest level of allocation ever made under the SCEP.
The priority in the short term is to advance the successful applications under the 2020 round to "formal approval" and grant drawdown stage which requires detailed engagement with all grantees. My Department is now undertaking a full review of all aspects of the 2020 round of the SCEP and any recommendations arising will be reflected in the terms and conditions of the next round. Following the completion of the review, I will announce the exact timing of the next round but it is hoped to have it open for applications early in the new year.
Funding is also provided by my Department for sports facilities under the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF), designed for projects where the grant sought is greater than the maximum available under the SCEP. The first allocations under the LSSIF were announced in January 2020 and, thus far, approximately €86.4 million has been awarded to 33 different proposals. The projects that received provisional allocations, including those submitted by the Football Association of Ireland and the amounts provisionally awarded to them, are published on the Department's website.
While the priority in the short term is to advance all of the projects that were allocated funding, as it is now over two years since the first allocations were made, and in view of the issues faced by grantees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was considered timely to review progress on all projects allocated grants. My Department has now met with all successful grantees and work is at an advanced stage in drafting the review. Once the review is complete the scope for awarding any additional grants, adjusting the level of existing grants and the timing of any new call for proposals will be considered.