Athletics Ireland open €450k Covid-19 resilience fund to aid struggling clubs

Participation numbers fell off dramatically and left some clubs facing insolvency

A resilience fund of €450,000 has been opened by Athletics Ireland to assist the needs of clubs under threat of becoming insolvent in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The club resilience scheme was designed by Sport Ireland to assist sporting clubs across the country in their sporting activities only, and Athletics Ireland will operate the scheme to assist all their affiliated athletics clubs and bodies.

The application process will close on April 11th, and “final decisions will need to consider the level of demand across the scheme and the €450,000 award granted to Athletics Ireland from Sport Ireland”.

Depending on the level of submissions, the outcome of those deliberations will be communicated to affiliated clubs by April 20th. Submissions must include bank balances at the end of December 2021 and 2020, and details on any projects or programmes or events that were deferred, postponed, or cancelled in 2021. Funding cannot be used for capital works, including the completion or resumption of work that may have been disrupted due to Covid-19.


The criteria in assessing and prioritising applications will include the size/scope of the club, levels of activities to counteract the loss of earnings, and risk of insolvency.

Like many sports, Athletics Ireland saw a significant drop off in membership during the pandemic. According to recent data made available by the organisation, overall registration has more than halved in the first 12-month period during the pandemic, from 45,306 at the end of February 2020 to 19,702 at the end of February 2021.

Some of the counties to experience the most dramatic drop-off in membership included Kerry (down from 1,133 in 2020 to 242 in 2021), Mayo (down from 1,948 to 528) and Laois (down from 869 to 134). The steepest overall decline was in juvenile membership, which over the year fell from 24,109 to 8,141.

Dublin, which at the time had 44 registered athletics clubs and more than any other county, experienced a membership decline from 7,546 to 4,678. In some counties, such as Carlow, registration was down more significantly – their numbers fell from 472 to just 73.

Meanwhile, a number of Cork clubs are seeking clarification on the new online race entry and permit system announced by Athletics Ireland, which will see all entries from non-Athletics Ireland members subject to a €3 entry for each race.

According to Athletics Ireland, they currently permit 650 events with an average size of approximately 400 people participating, but only 20 per cent are Athletics Ireland members.

The online system will also require all race entries be made via Athletics Ireland’s system, provided by Eventmaster. All race results will then be entered and made available in a database accessible via the member’s personal portal; non-members will access theirs via an account that they will open when they enter their first race.

It will also see members benefit from a reduced entry fee into Athletics Ireland accredited events. All profits will be ring-fenced and go directly back to members through high performance and coaching and development. It also means all non-Athletics Ireland members will be covered with a personal accident insurance.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics