Flutter Donates £4.8M to Sports Charity

Leading operator Flutter Entertainment has donated £4.79 million to the “Clubs in Crisis” campaign, via its Cash4Clubs initiative. The campaign marks a new COVID-19 response fund for 2021, with the aim of supporting small grassroots clubs. It comes as part of a partnership between Cash4Clubs and Made by Sport.

Three teenagers playing football.

Grassroots sports are vital in bringing communities together and reducing social inequalities. ©Pixabay/Pexels

Supporting Local Communities

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on UK sports, with high profile matches forced to be rescheduled and long periods when play has been called off altogether. For top tier sports, the last twelve months have been frustrating but not without hope. At the beginning of the year, the Prime Minister announced that elite sports would be allowed to continue through the lockdown.

For grassroots sports, it has been a different story. Non-elite sports, including the Women’s FA Cup, have been postponed. Those who participate in sports at this level have not been able to use all of their usual training facilities and have been unable to practice as a team. Outdoor exercise has been allowed but venues like tennis courts, gyms and swimming pools have been closed through the lockdowns.

The beginning of March marks a full year since the coronavirus pandemic changed everybody’s lives. Made by Sport’s “Clubs in Crisis” campaign has been created to raise much needed funds for community sports clubs whose streams of revenue have dried up as a result of the pandemic.

Made by Sport was first launched in 2019 with a vision to take on social issues through the medium of local sports. It has helped to support communities and change lives by fundraising for grassroots organizations. To celebrate the new year and continue to drive change, Made by Sport will offer grants worth £2021 to the smallest organizations. These grants will help small clubs to stay afloat until they can resume their activities when restrictions are lifted.

Flutter Gives Back

The charity will set its own criteria in order to prioritize which clubs receive support first. The £4.79 million donation to “Clubs in Crisis” made by Flutter’s Cash4Clubs scheme will go a long way to fulfill the charity’s mission. The importance of community sports is more important than ever, given the pressure that communities and other organizations are facing. Taking part in sports has proven benefits for physical and mental wellbeing, as well as in bringing communities together.

Flutter’s donation is equal to the amount it received in business rates relief for its English shops during the last year. As one of the world’s biggest online gaming and sports betting operators, Flutter has been able to weather the hardships of the pandemic better than smaller businesses and other sectors. Recognizing this, it chose to give back its relief through its own charitable initiative.

Flutter Entertainment is best known in the UK for sports betting brands including Paddy Power and Betfair. It has also made significant inroads into the emerging US sports betting market, with brands like FOX Bet and Sky Betting and Gaming. Other online gaming enterprises owned by Flutter include PokerStars and FanDuel.

Flutter owns 348 Paddy Power shops in the UK, which have spent the most part of last year closed to the public. The operator kept its staff during this uncertain period, although it chose to forgo the government’s furlough scheme. Instead, it chose to pay staff using its own financial reserves. Despite the closures of high-street bookmakers and land-based casinos, online gaming has fared well as one of the few sources of entertainment still available during the lockdowns.

Keeping Clubs Afloat

Cash4Clubs was launched in 2008, and since its formation has distributed almost £800,000 to UK sports clubs. Last year it gave out £165,000 in grants. Peter Jackson, Flutter Entertainment’s Group CEO explained why the firm’s latest donation is arguably its most important to date. According to Jackson:

“Lack of funding is not a new issue for community clubs which is why we originally set up our Cash4Clubs program. But now help is needed more than ever and working with Made by Sport to provide a fund for “Clubs In Crisis” is a great way for us to pass the benefit of business rates relief straight into the communities where that funding is most needed.”

Adding to this point, Made by Sport’s Justin King spoke about the crisis that has been unfolding in UK community sports. According to research carried out by Newton for Made by Sport, before COVID-19, more than 40% of small clubs were struggling financially. It is now estimated that a quarter of the UK’s sports clubs are facing permanent closure, if no significant intervention is made. If these clubs are allowed to close, the impact will be felt throughout communities.

The pandemic has made many social issues worse. Organizations like local sports clubs can help to combat issues like social inequality, but only if they receive adequate funding. For every £1 spent on reducing crime, truancy and poor health, sports spending returns around £4. There are also proven increases in levels of teamwork, resilience and communication skills amongst young people who are able to be physically active through local sports.

CEO of Made by Sport, Sophie Mason, thanked Flutter Entertainment for its generous donation to the “Clubs in Crisis” fund and praised the collaboration between the two organizations. Mason added:

“Whilst community sport provision is in a precarious state right now, there has never been more recognition that sport is fundamental to our individual, community and societal development. If sport at its most grassroots level is denied, we risk a huge rise in mental health issues, anti-social behavior and lack of life skills that lead to better employment opportunities. This fund will make a massive difference to thousands of communities all across the UK.”

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