More than 2,300 sports clubs and community groups have applied for almost €162m in funding under the Government’s latest round of Sports Capital Grants – but it has only a proposed budget of €40m.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport said it had received a record number of applications for funding with a total of 2,337 different organisations seeking grants - including 2,253 local clubs and groups seeking maximum funding of €150,000 each and 84 bodies including local authorities with applications for sums of up to €300,000.
Unlike the last round of the programme, not all applicants who meet minimum criteria are guaranteed some funding, as the process for the awarding of grants in 2017 generated some controversy.
“No decision has yet been made on how allocations will be determined but, as stated in the guide, the overall score is a key factor in making allocations,” said a department spokesperson.
Marks are awarded under a number of different criteria including the likelihood of the project increasing participation and improving performance, a sharing of facilities and the level of funding received by the applicant in the previous 10 years. Marks are also awarded for the technical merit of the project and the level of own funding provided by the applicant.
Projects based in socio-economically disadvantaged areas are expected to be given extra weighting as recommended in a review of the previous round of the sports capital programme which awarded over €62m in grants in 2017.
Changes in the marking scheme are expected following the controversy which dogged the 2017 grants when two private fee-paying schools in south Dublin were each awarded a €150,000 grant to resurface all-weather pitches.
The applications from both Wesley College and Loreto Beaufort had initially been rejected at the initial stage. It subsequently emerged that both schools had sent almost identical letters threatening the department with legal action if their appeals were not granted.
The awards process for a previous round of grants was also criticised as the vast majority of applicants from Dublin received the full amount of requested funding, irrespective of how well individual projects had scored while highly-rated sports projects around the rest of the country missed out on funding because of grants being distributed to counties on a per capita basis.
The review of the grants scheme concluded it was not desirable that all applicants from a particular county should receive the entire requested funding levels.
While it found the method of allocating grants was “reasonable and transparent,” it acknowledged that further changes could still be made to make the scheme fairer.
A total of 30 clubs from Cork have sought the maximum funding of €150,000 including the Skibbereen Rowing Club – the home club of the world rowing champions, Gary and Paul O’Donovan.