Sponsors call for sport support as COVID-19 restrictions dry up incomes

Sharon Kelley 20 April 2020
Dean Hill, Tim Gavel, Paul Nicholl

Dean Hill, CEO of Effective People; Tim Gavel, sports commentator and senior journalist with Region Media; and Paul Nicholl, Managing Director of Bayldon Ag. Photo: Region Media.

Sponsors of some of Canberra’s favourite sporting teams have called on the government to support community clubs, and the insurance industry to consider discounted premiums during the COVID-19 lockdown of the industry.

Dean Hill from Effective People, which sponsors the Canberra Capitals, CBR Brave and Canberra Cavalry said they will continue to sponsor teams after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but sponsors are feeling the financial pressure as well.

“Many smaller and medium sporting clubs rely on sponsorships, registration fees and their hospitality business for an income,” Dean said. “This subsidises the running cost of maintaining their facilities for and services to Canberra sports.”

Some sports clubs may be faced with making long-term decisions such as whether to continue to maintain their sports facilities while they have no registration fees or income from club operations such as hospitality.

“Clubs providing playing fields, greens and courses such as golf links have ongoing maintenance costs just to ensure they can reopen after the lockdown including watering, fertilising and mowing lawns and greens,” Dean said.

“I think from the community and sports side of things, a lot of people would like to see some of the clubs still open, but at the moment we’ve got to abide by all the government regulations.”

Clubs must also pay business and other insurances while not receiving any concessions or discounts from their insurance providers, despite having no income from either club operations or hospitality venues.

Another Canberra Cavalry sponsor is Bayldon Ag, whose Managing Director Paul Nicholl called on insurance providers to discount business insurance and public liability premiums while hospitality venues are closed.

“Smaller clubs like bowling clubs, smaller golf clubs in the country, I don’t know how they’re going to get through the back end of this because they’re already financially stressed,” he said.

“Now they have to find money to fertilise greens, water greens, mow them, fuel costs, employing staff, keeping those staff on, that’s a long-term investment they have to make with no income coming in.”

Sports commentator Tim Gavel identified a sense of loss in the community, and he also worries about the financial implications for grassroots sports groups and whether they would survive.

He called on the ACT Government to support local sporting groups with concessions on ground hire and registration fees after the restrictions are lifted, but said it will take a concerted effort from the community itself to ensure the future of community sporting clubs.

“We’ve really got to look across the board at how we can help sport get up and running again. It won’t be reliant on just the government, it’s going to need community focus,” he said.

Dean Hill agreed.

“Luckily, we’re able to get back onto the golf courses in the ACT, which is a good thing for members around town. But it’s only for social play and only two at a time, but like Paul was saying we’ve got the upkeep of the courses as well. You can’t let the greens overgrow otherwise you can’t get them back.”

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