So the day has finally arrived. At 2 o'clock this afternoon Minister for Sport Michael Ring will announce which sports clubs will receive a grant from the government under the Sports Capital Programme.
Today's announcement will cover the lion's share of the scheme, the €26m which has been put aside for local projects. The remaining €4m, which has been earmarked for regional and national projects, will be allocated in the coming weeks.
Unlike the Budget, the final list of successful applicants has been kept well under wraps, and even political colleagues of Ring have been kept in the dark.
The word is that Ring has spent many hours on this and has been determined to make sure that when the list is published today there is no hint of political favouritism and that the money will be divided up on a per capita basis. If this proves to be so, then he deserves credit, because there has been intense lobbying from all quarters from the moment he announced last March that €30m was being made available.
The Department of Sport was totally overwhelmed by the response – there were 2,152 applications, looking for a total of €224,309,559. The one certainty when the list is published this afternoon is that no club will receive what it looked for and the speculation is that in the region of 25 per cent, or somewhere around 500 clubs, will be successful. Grants are expected to vary greatly, from about €2,000 right up to €300,000.
A lot of the successful applicants will be ready to commence work pretty quickly so at least this money will feed directly into local economies, largely in the form of direct employment. Some young men and women on the brink of emigration may even be given a reason to stay at home. This could well be a rare good news story.