Last month, we published a blog, The Priestnall Tapes – Five Months On – which looked back at words spoke by Yeovil Town owner and chairman Scott Priestnall to supporters in April and reviewed where his promises had got to in the months that had passed.

Among the topics we covered were the issue of the almost £1m (£998,538, to be precise) in loans the club took out from Sport England to help the club survive the COVID-19 pandemic – yes, that’s on top of the sale of the club’s stadium, surrounding land, the £50,000 raised by supporters in the Crowdfunder and furlough payments the club took during the period.

For your recollection, here’s what that blog said about the loans from the Sport Survival Package:

 

Sport England loans

Scott said: “We’ve taken not as much as some other clubs and only what we needed and we have been promised as a league by the Sports Minister that over the next four years, he is working towards getting those loans written off.”

What’s happened since? The Sports Minister, Nigel Huddlestone, is the same man who promised Scott and his fellow club owners he would be working towards getting the almost £1m which we have borrowed written off. We’ve got in contact with the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to ask how the Minister is getting on – but, to be fair to the department, they’ve been in charge of arrangements for The Queen’s funeral in recent weeks. We’ll let you know if we hear anything…….


Now, we’re people of our word and far be it from us to promise something and not deliver upon it, so here’s the response we’ve had back from the DCMS today:

  • The terms of the loan repayment remain the same as when it was provided in early 2021. We expect every loan recipient to fulfil the terms of their loan.Loans were provided to beneficiaries of the Sport Survival Package at a low interest rate, with a flexible approach to loan terms and repayment holidays.
  • Sport England is in regular contact with every loan recipient and we will continue to work closely with them to understand each individual organisations’ circumstances. If an organisation is concerned about its ability to meet repayments, we would encourage them to contact their relationship manager in the first instance as soon as possible.
  • We do not comment on the specifics of individual Sports Survival Package cases given their commercial sensitivity.

The other thing to correct is that on the day we published The Priestnall Tapes – Five Months On blog, Nigel Huddlestone was replaced as Sports Minister by Stuart Andrew. Either way, there seems no appetite from the DCMS to cancel the loans or turn them in to grants.


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