State aid: Commission approves €43 million Italian scheme to support the sports sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €43 million Italian scheme to support companies active in the sports sector affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. The scheme, which will be managed by ‘Istituto per il Credito Sportivo’, will be open to sports associations and amateur sports entities, as well as to professional sports clubs engaged in national team championships of Olympic and Paralympic disciplines, that are registered in Italy. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of (i) gratuitous State guarantees covering 90% of loans with a nominal amount of up to €30,000; (ii) State guarantees of up to €5 million covering 80% of the underlying loan amounts; (iii) subsidised interest rates on all the loans covered under (i) and (ii); and (iv) a grant to exempt companies benefiting from guarantees on loans covered under (ii) from the payment of guarantee premiums. The aim of the scheme, which applies only to new loans (i.e. loans granted after the adoption of the Commission decision), is to help the beneficiaries address the liquidity shortages they face due to the coronavirus outbreak and enhance their access to financing, thus helping them continue their activities during and after the outbreak. The Commission found that the Italian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, measures (i), (iii) and (iv) provide for aid which will not exceed €1.8 million per beneficiary as provided by the Temporary Framework; and measure (ii) provides for loans that cannot be higher than (a) 25% of the total revenue of the beneficiary as reported in its financial statements for 2019, or (b) the requirement for working capital and investment costs in the following 18 months, in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and in the following 12 months, in the case of large enterprises. For all measures, aid can only be granted until 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64218 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.