In its pre-budget submission, the Federation of Irish Sport has called on the Government to reinstate current sports funding back to 2011 levels by 2016. They have also called on the Government to extend donations tax relief to current spend.
The submission, which was made on behalf of all Irish sport, was announced on Wednesday 8th October. The current funding for sport, as distributed through the Irish Sports Council to the Federation’s 100 plus members, has decreased by 27% over the last six years. The Federation has called for the Government to increase this funding by €4.4 million over two years or €2.2 million each year, stating the importance of the role sport plays in the economic and social life of Ireland.
The additional monies would not only support the 2.5 million people who participate in sport currently in Ireland, but would also target the 12.6% of the population that remain inactive. It would help the athletes in their preparations for qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as those in development squads looking at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.
Speaking at the launch of the submission, the Federation’s CEO Sarah O’Connor said, “Rio 2016 is now right around the corner. 2015 is qualification year in most sports for both the Olympic and Paralymic Games. In truth it is not just Rio on the horizon but Tokyo and even future games whose locations have yet to be determined. Developing sport both at grassroots and high performance levels is a continuous process and consistent investment is crucial.”
“A reversal of a portion of the cuts imposed on current funding as a result of the recession is now vital to ensure that our existing athletes are adequately prepared as they launch into Olympic and Paralympic qualification, but also that efforts to grow grassroots participation can continue. Whilst the Irish Sports Monitor 2013 published last week had a lot of very positive findings, particularly in relation to women and those over 65, however there were also reductions in participation levels amongst certain sections of the population showing that participation in sport is not something that can ever be taken for granted.”
As well as the call for extra funding, the Federation has also asked the Government to extend the tax relief currently in place for donations to sporting bodies in connection to capital projects to items of current spend. Irish Sport does want to help itself and in this regard, is looking to the Government to assist in the development of a culture of private sector investment in sport. Irish Sport is the only contributor to the not-for-profit sector not to benefit from a tax relief on current spend.
The type of programmes that would benefit from this relief should it be introduced would include programmes that bring different sports to new places; that support existing and developing athletes, as well as programmes that can target hard to reach members of our communities; that can develop our coaches and look after our athletes.
The Federation of Irish Sport believes that a developed culture of giving to sport has the potential to make a real and lasting positive impact on the development of sport in this country. It has been estimated that up to €100 million per year across all sports at all levels could be generated within 10 years.