Leaders from sport and physical activity sector appeal to PM for urgent funding and central role in nation’s Covid-19 recovery

Leaders from more than one hundred sport and physical activity bodies have sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to ringfence funding for the recovery of the sports and activity sector – or risk fuelling physical inactivity and related illnesses for a generation.

The letter comes during the Great British Week of Sport and highlights the contribution of the sports and physical activity sector to society, fuelled by a combined workforce of more than 600,000 people.

 The coalition requests an urgent support package from the Government, as has been provided to arts and restaurant sectors, that will enable the sport and activity sector to continue to provide programmes and facilities that address the health inequalities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and support the NHS by improving health outcomes.

 It calls for a “Sports Recovery Fund” to be delivered at the Comprehensive Spending Review, as part of the Better Health campaign. The fund would help protect existing jobs and facilities so that the sector can:

  • Support programmes and facilities that address the health inequalities highlighted by COVID-19, particularly inactivity among women, lower socio-economic groups, BAME communities and people with disabilities.
  • Expand the innovations across the sector that we have seen during COVID-19 – making opportunities digital and increasing accessibility across the country.

A report published by Sport England and Sheffield Hallam University this month showed that every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity generates nearly £4 for the English economy, providing an annual contribution of more than £85bn a year, with a social value of more than £72bn a year, measured by physical and mental health and wellbeing, individual and community development.

Grassroots sport and physical activity is an essential part of the UK’s recovery, not just in terms of improved physical wellbeing and reducing the burden on the NHS, but the positive impact it has on mental wellbeing, as well as helping to overcome societal challenges such as loneliness, crime and isolation.

However, the sector has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, with gyms and leisure centres having to shut their doors, community sport being cancelled and heavy restrictions put in place since re-opening. This has significantly impacted the commercial viability of the sector, which has resulted in many local sport, fitness and leisure facilities announcing closures and job losses.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive said: “Our sector is united in its call to the Prime Minister to back grassroots sport and physical activity so that our clubs, gyms and leisure facilities can throw their full weight behind fighting this pandemic.

“This is a health crisis and our sector can play a vital role in supporting our NHS by restoring the nation’s physical and mental resilience in the face of this terrible virus.

“We call on the Government to deliver the urgent fiscal, taxation and regulatory support required to save sports and activity providers across the UK from disappearing from our communities at the time they are needed most.”

Lisa Wainwight, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: “The strength of this coalition from the sports, recreation and activity sector cannot be ignored in its public call to the Prime Minister.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put an incredible strain on our sector, which was forced to close for a prolonged period.

“It is imperative that our sector gets the support it requires from the Government to get back to business, in order to ease the pressures on the NHS and play a central role in our nation’s recovery from COVID-19.”

Note to Editors

The full list of signatories can be found below:



Pete Ackerley

British American Football

Jane Allen

British Gymnastics

Justin Andrews

You Fit

Craig Anthony

British Wrestling

Joanne Ashton


Simon Bailey

Serco Leisure

David Bibby

Everyone Active

Mark Braithwaite


Jason Brautigam

British Dressage

Mark Bullingham

Football Association

Peter Burt

Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles

Bill Bush

Premier League

Béatrice Butsana-Sita

Greenhouse Sports

Marcus Capel

The Pony Club

Joanna Coates

UK Athletics

Jon Cockcroft

Bowls England

Fran Connolly

England Netball

Laura Cordingley

Chance to Shine

Mark Coups

England Lacrosse

Dave Courteen

Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs

Richard Darwin

The Gym Group

Andrew Denton

Outdoor Industries Association

Tara Dillon


Lisa Dodd-Mayne

University of Warwick

Michelle Draper

British Ice Skating

Huw Edwards


David English

AJ Products

Mike Evans

EFL Trust

Tim Fawke

Snowsport England

John Fletcher

Northampton Leisure Trust

Peter Gilpin

LED Leisure Management Ltd

Kevin Gorman

National Council for Metal Detecting

Iain Graham

British Equestrian / British Showjumping

Tanni Grey-Thompson


Peter Guy

Gym Works

Glenn Hall

Parkwood Leisure

Dean Hardman

AoC Sport

Gary Hargraves


Julie Harrington

British Cycling

Tom Harrison

England and Wales Cricket Board

Sara Heath

Pentathlon GB

James Hicks

British Horse Society

Stephanie Hilborne

Women in Sport

Si Hill

UK Ultimate

James Hope-Gill

Skateboard England / Skateboard GB

Ivan Horsfall Turner

Freedom Leisure

Phil Horton

Miha Bodytec

Councillor James Jamieson


Gethin Jenkins

England Boxing

Chris Jones

England Athletics

David Joy

British Canoeing

Natalie Justice-Dearn

Rounders England

Arun Kang

Sporting Equals

Peter Kay

Fusion Lifestyle

Neil King

Energie Fitness

Marcus Kingwell


Sophie Lawler

Total Fitness

James Lawrence

Lifestyle Fitness

Mark Lawrie


Scott Lloyd

Lawn Tennis Association

Stuart Margetts

Our People

Lee Mason

Active Partnerships

Marg Mayne

Mytime Active

Paul McPartlan

Places Leisure

Ashley Metcalfe

British Weightlifting

Sarah Mortiboys

Dallaglio RugbyWorks

Dan Newton


Jane M Nickerson

Swim England

Phil Nunnerley

Endurance GB

Tove Okunniwa

London Sport

Ali Oliver

Youth Sport Trust

John Oxley

Places Leisure

Andy Parkinson

British Rowing

Rebecca Passmore

Pure Gym

Lisa Pearce

British Wheelchair Basketball

Matthew Pengelly

Matrix Fitness

Nick Pink

England Hockey

Joyce Power


Brendon Pyle

The Golf Foundation

Andy Reed

Sport for Development Coalition

Paul Richardson


Ralph Rimmer

Rugby Football League

Scott Rolfe

Halo Leisure

Mark Sesnan

Greenwich Leisure Limited

Mike Sharrock

Paralmpics GB

Bill Sweeney

Rugby Football Union

Chris Symons

BH Live

Peter Thompson

English Indoor Bowling Association

Jeremy Tomlinson

England Golf

John Treharne

The Gym Group

Chris Turner

GM Active

Mark Tweedie

Community Leisure UK

Jean-Claude Vacassin

The International Fitness Business Alliance

Colin Wagget

Third Space

Lisa Wainwright

Sport and Recreation Alliance

Nicola Walker


Ben Wilkins

Good Boost

Sue Wilkinson

Association for Physical Education

Mark Winder

Goalball UK

Tom Withers

Gladstone MRM

Keir Worth

England Squash

Dave Wright



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