Councils offer support to clubs battling coronavirus financial impact

By Alex Mitchell

 District councils are getting behind the region's sporting clubs as the coronavirus crisis threatens to badly damage them financially.

As clubs begin to forecast what financial impact missing matches — or even an entire season — would have, many will now have one less cost after multiple councils opted to waive rent fees for sporting groups.

The Greater Shepparton City and Moira Shire councils have done that, citing a need to financially assist the organisations while unable to use the facilities, while Campaspe Shire remains assessing how it can best support its clubs.

In announcing rent fees for community and sporting groups on council-owned land and grounds would be waived from March 1 to June 30, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah said council had an obligation to support local sport.

“Council is determined to assist local community and business through this pandemic, which of course includes our sporting clubs and organisations,” she said.

“A Stage One Greater Shepparton Economic Response to COVID-19 package was announced at Tuesday night’s ordinary council meeting. The package includes a suite of measures to ease the financial pressure on members of the community and businesses.

“Many of our sporting groups are run by volunteers, and it is crucial we help these volunteers through this pandemic.”

Abdullah continued, calling for affected sporting clubs to fight their way through undoubtedly tough times.

“Greater Shepparton’s sporting clubs are a huge part of the region’s identity and, while we hope this may ease some of the financial burden on these clubs, it will unfortunately not solve all of the problems COVID-19 brings,” she said.

“Our community will make it through this, and when we do, our sporting teams, competitions and groups will play a huge role in helping our region recover.

“Council will continue to work with all aspects of the community to help Greater Shepparton through to the other side.”

Moira Shire Mayor Libro Mustica said his council would also help sporting organisations through the pandemic.

“In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities, Moira Shire council is committed to helping customers, ratepayers and businesses throughout the shire who are facing financial hardship,” he said.

“The COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy is just one of many initiatives we are putting in place which will apply to all rateable properties in the shire.

“We are not charging user fees to the various sporting groups and clubs whose playing seasons have been affected by this continuing crisis.”

Campaspe Shire Council chief executive Declan Moore said "a report will be presented to a council meeting in the coming months to consider the impact on clubs and organisations and what support or relief might be made available to them".