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Little guys in frame at last

Political slush funds are all the talk right now, but there has hardly been a slush fund like that administered by successive Fianna Fáil governments, known simply as the Sports Capital Grants.

The grants were discontinued four years ago when the country ran out of money, but between 1998 and 2008, almost 7,500 grant awards totalling over €743m were made. And of course it always helped if those seeking the grants were from the same neck of the woods as those handing them out.

Sports minister Michael Ring will this week announce details of a new round of grants and the word is the Mayoman wants it to be a case of out with the old, in with the new. In other words, don't include a constituency map with your application.

It's understood that this time priority will be given to worthwhile projects on a smaller scale and the money will be very much targeted at developing essential facilities which will encourage participation. There won't be any grandstands this time, the focus will be on playing pitches, running tracks, dressing rooms, drainage works, etc. As one source said, "the big sports have had their day, this is going to be from the bottom up".

It's also thought that community-based and shared facilities will be prioritised. The exact figure which will be made available over the term of this government is unclear, but it will certainly be in excess of €25m.

This has to be good news for small clubs all over the country that were previously muscled out of the picture by the bigger sporting organisations who were simply better organised, better equipped and, let's face it, better connected to tap into the money. It also has to be good news at local level, as any development in any area will bring with it the prospect of employment.

We await the details with interest.

jgreene@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport