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Return to Play: Community Asset Fund

Capital awards of between £10,001 and £50,000 will help clubs and community groups adapt and open important places and spaces, so that sport and physical activity can happen during the pandemic - please note, this fund is now closed.

About the fund

Due to the ongoing challenges arising from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we continue to experience a high volume of calls and applications to our open funds, including Return to Play: Small Grants and our crowdfunding element, Return to Play: Active Together - these will be our priority over the summer of 2021.

To enable us to do this, and support other funds, we closed Return to Play: Community Asset Fund to new applications on Friday 30 April.

Since opening in October 2020, the fund received more than 780 applications and invested £4.5 million in 146 projects.

Most applications sought capital funds for general improvements, rather than to address key issues that would enable people to return to play in a safe environment - which upheld wider public health objectives.

Regrettably, too many were poor applications, seeking to meet desirable, rather than essential, needs.

Our general Community Asset Fund (CAF) was paused to new applications in March 2020 as we targeted our resources to our emergency coronavirus response.

Our resources remain stretched and, as a result, CAF remains paused and we currently don't have a timeline for when it may reopen - we know this will be frustrating for some and we apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

In the meantime, we suggest looking at our Return to Play: Active Together fund as a possible alternative.

We also have a list of several other sources of funding, while the government has compiled a list of other avenues for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to explore.

Tennis players on hard courts, after coronavirus restrictions are eased

The Return to Play: Community Asset Fund was for new applications focused solely on helping support clubs and community groups through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to return to play.

It was designed to provide capital funding, predominantly from the National Lottery, to help local sports clubs and organisations to adapt and open important places and spaces so people within their community can return to play and physical activity, safely. The focus was on responding to the immediate challenges of sports and physical activity returning to play.

There were some important changes to how this funding will operate, compared to how our pre-coronavirus Community Asset Fund operated. These were:

  • Your project must have been about addressing the challenges you were facing because of coronavirus and linked to enabling people to return to play. We weren't funding general capital works such as improvements to clubhouses, courts, nets etc.
  • The minimum level of funding available was £10,001 - for anything less than this, please see our Return to Play: Small Grants fund.
  • The maximum level of funding available was £50,000 - this was to ensure we could fund more clubs and groups.

After you've applied

We aim to let you know our decision within three weeks. If we need some more information, we may contact you.

Please be aware that we only have limited funds available and therefore we can’t fund everything we’d like to, including some good projects which are general improvement works, not closely linked to the challenge of returning to play due to the ongoing pandemic. If we can’t fund your project, we'll tell you why.

If I'm successful, what happens next?

If we like your project and decide to fund it, we’ll need you to provide some additional documents (no need to submit them with your application).

Based on what is described, the standard information we may require is:

  • evidence of your organisation’s governance arrangements, such as a constitution
  • evidence of financial accounts
  • evidence of an organisational bank account
  • evidence of security of tenure – this would either be a lease or freehold
  • evidence of appropriate safeguarding policies – all organisations we invest in will need to show they have appropriate procedures in place
  • membership of, or affiliation to, the national governing body recognised by us - for sports we deem higher risk.

If you’re unsure of the requirements for any of these documents, please contact us on 03458 508 508, via webchat, or email

We'll also be asking all projects to complete a short survey, once any awarded funds have been paid in full, to help us learn and share best practise. This will include providing a before and after photograph of any work carried out - see our photo and video guide for advice

How the Return to Play fund is progressing

How many applications have we had across the three branches of the fund so far? How many have been approved? How much funding have we allocated?

We've put together a handy tool that's constantly being updated to answer all those questions, and more.

We recommend viewing in full screen mode, where possible. If you encounter issues viewing the report using Internet Explorer, please try another browser.

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