The Irish Football Association has announced that the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) has received £450,000 ($600,000) of financial support from the National Lottery.
All men’s and women’s clubs in the NIFL will each receive a share of the total, having been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions in place across the country.
The majority of clubs have been forced to play without the presence of supporters due to various lockdowns, with other clubs unable to play at all due to the current pandemic.
The funding aims to allow clubs to continue to exist and operate in the future.
As part of the partnership, National Lottery players will be rewarded with free tickets and VIP experiences with the Northern Ireland national team, once conditions allow the return of supporters.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, football clubs are able to protect and enhance the crucial work they do serving their communities right across Northern Ireland,” said Irish Football Association CEO Patrick Nelson.
Nigel Railton, CEO of National Lottery operator Camelot, added: “The National Lottery and its players make a massive difference to communities across the UK day in, day out – and have been doing so for the past 26 years.
“So we’re really delighted to be working with the Irish Football Association to support these incredibly important clubs in the Northern Ireland Football League, enabling them to continue playing such an important role in their local communities."
The partnership follows similar initiatives throughout the UK, between the Football Association and National League in England, and the Football Association of Wales and Cymru Leagues.