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Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has announced that clubs in steps 3-6 of the National League football system will receive a sum of up to £10m to protect them during the pandemic.

The emergency fund will be channeled into around 850 clubs across England, via the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

It is the first round of funding from the government’s £300m Sports Winter Survival Package, and follows submissions made to an independent decision-making board set up in December, supported by Sport England.

Clubs in steps 3-6 will be directly contacted by the football foundation and able to make an application from tomorrow, 29 January, if they hold less than six months of cash and unrestricted operating reserves – cash that is not tied to a particular use.

Clubs in National League steps 1 and 2 can also apply for a grant if their “imminent future is at risk” and can demonstrate unaffordable loans.

The funding has to be used by 31 March 2021, with evidence submitted to the Football Foundation of what the money has been spent on by 30 May.

Huddleston said, “We promised to support sports and target help to where it’s most needed. Today we continue to deliver on that with further support for National League football clubs.

“The National League has already benefited from the government support schemes through a £10 million government-brokered cash partnership with the National Lottery, and there will be more support for the bigger clubs on the way.”