By PA reporters

THE Government will provide a combined £300million cash injection to 11 sports hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced.

Major spectator sports have suffered as a result of the continued absence of fans from venues and after pledging its support, the Government has now outlined the scope of the backing it will provide.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said that £250m is expected to be in the form of loans “driven by need and ability to repay”.

Rugby union will receive the biggest single amount of £135m. Of that, £44m will go to the Rugby Football Union, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9m to clubs in the Championship and £23m to clubs below the Championship.

Horseracing will receive £40m to support racecourses unable to welcome visitors.

Football's National League at Steps 1 and 2 - which have already benefited from £10m in National Lottery funding to assist through to the end of 2020 - will receive a further £11m to cover the period between January and the end of March. Talks about the Premier League providing aid to the National League are ongoing.

Steps 3 to 6 of the pyramid will receive £14m, while the Women's Super League and Championship have been awarded £3m.

The Rugby Football League is set to receive £12m.

Cricket is not included in Thursday's announcement. It is understood that is because the 'Winter Survival Package' is focused on sports which should be welcoming in spectators right now.

Meanwhile, DCMS secretary Oliver Dowden has said “there is definitely a chance” of fans returning to sporting events before Christmas.

"We are in close discussions with the centre of Government about what we could do as we go back into the tiering system.

"There's a possibility in the lowest-risk areas to open the door ajar a little bit, start to prove in the lowest-risk areas that we could make this work then I'd love for us to be able to do that."

He said mass, rapid testing would play a part in reopening venues.

"I think there's a real opportunity to incentivise people to take the Covid test by saying 'if you take the Covid test, and you're in the clear, then you can go safely into stadiums and watch matches'," he added.