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Information for Local Sports Clubs



The vast majority of clubs are voluntary organisations, and this section deals primarily with the issues facing voluntary organisations. The structural and management issues identified by clubs which participated in the research fall into five main areas:

  • Legal status.
  • The management of clubs.
  • Concerns about legal and policy issues.
  • Staffing issues.
  • Equalities issues.

Legal status issues

What are the most fundamental requirements for a voluntary organisation?

All clubs should have a constitution. This sets out, for example, the purpose of the club, who can become members, how it will be run, how committees will be elected, and what will happen to any assets if the club ceases to operate. It is extremely unlikely that your club could obtain external funding unless it is properly constituted. A bank will require a constitution before it will consider opening an account for your club.

Your club should have a written record of a meeting of members at which it was decided to form a club. This is often known in the form of a Memorandum and Articles of Association, although it need not be in this form.

Your club should have at least an Annual General Meeting, and some mechanism to allow members to call meetings at other times where circumstances warrant this.

Although there is no legal requirement for your club to have a bank account, or to have your accounts at least checked over by a qualified accountant, this is good practice. Having a bank account helps protect committee members and allows clearer management and control of funds.

Finally, your club must have adequate insurance to cover all its activities. This must provide public liability cover for the club itself, officials, players, non-players and volunteers, and may cover coaches. If you employ staff, you must have employer's liability cover. You should seek advice on this from your governing body or Local Sports Council. Affordable group insurance schemes tailored to the needs of sports clubs are available through many governing bodies.


Information about the basic requirements for a voluntary organisation

Available from

www.scvo.org.uk, via the CVS network, or through any solicitor

What is the best type of organisation for my club?

There is no simple answer to this question. Voluntary organisations can choose a variety of legal structures. The most common across the sector is the unincorporated association. This is the least well-defined structure, and affords little protection to members (although some protection may be available through purchasing an insurance policy).

In the vast majority of cases, clubs face no problems in being unincorporated associations. The main problem with an unincorporated association is when something goes wrong. If a club becomes seriously in debt, the members of the club may personally become liable for these debts. Becoming "incorporated" (i.e. a company limited by guarantee) can provide protection to management committee members, but the disadvantage is that it brings some administrative and legal requirements.

If your club owns assets (for example, a ground or a clubhouse) or employs staff, it is a good idea to seek advice about your legal position.


Information about the implications of different legal structures

Available from

www.scvo.org.uk, via the CVS network, or through any solicitor

What are Community Amateur Sports Clubs?

Before April 2006, the vast majority of sports clubs were not eligible to apply for charitable status. The designation Community Amateur Sports Club ( CASC) was introduced as a way of bringing some of the benefits of charitable status to sports clubs not eligible for charitable status. The main benefits of being a CASC come from rates relief (at least 80%) and exemption from corporation tax up to certain limits. For these reasons, becoming a CASC is particularly attractive to clubs with assets, or which generate income through trading. Other clubs are unlikely to see the same level of benefits. It is worth bearing in mind that there are some qualifying restrictions placed on becoming a CASC, including the need to be open to all members of the community and operate on a not-for-profit basis.


Information about Community Amateur Sports Clubs

Available from

www.helpforclubs.org.uk or www.hmrc.gov.uk (or any HM Revenue and Customs office). Advice can be obtained from Local Sports Councils, local authorities or sportscotland.

What about Charitable Status?

From April 2006, the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 introduced a new regime for the regulation of charities in Scotland. One of the key effects of this reform of charity law is that sports clubs are, from April 2006, eligible to apply for charitable status (assuming they satisfy other criteria). Although many voluntary organisations are registered charities, there are a range of legal and administrative requirements which have to be satisfied. Clubs should seek detailed advice about the benefits and responsibilities of charitable status before embarking on this option.


Information about Charitable Status

Available from

There is a good discussion of the issues at www.scvo.org.uk. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator ( www.oscr.org.uk or 01382 220446) will provide detailed information and advice. Practical help may be available through the CVS network, or your sport governing body.

The management of a club

What are the basic management needs of our club?

Your constitution should set out clearly how the club will be managed. The vast majority of clubs are managed by a management committee, with office bearers including a Chairperson, various secretaries (including, for example, club or match secretaries) and a treasurer. Members of the club should be made aware of how the committee is elected, and should participate in the election process.

A minute should be taken of all meetings, and this should be made available to all members.

Some CVSs and local authorities run development programmes for committee members. Although these are unlikely to be confined to sports clubs, they will help committee members become more aware of the issues involved in managing what is, in effect, a small business.

  • Some clubs make committee meetings open to all members, as a way of encouraging participation and transparency.

Your club should have a designated treasurer. While there is no legal requirement that the treasurer should have a relevant qualification, it is recommended that, wherever possible, either the treasurer should have this, or should be prepared to attend a suitable course.

As a very minimum, the treasurer should produce a statement of accounts quarterly, and ideally monthly.

  • Some clubs circulate financial statements to all members, again as a way of encouraging transparency.


Training for management committees and treasurers

Available from

Information on courses available may be obtained from the CVS network.

Do we need a business plan?

There is no easy answer to this. All clubs, except the most informal groups of casual players, would benefit from having an annual business plan. Clubs which own assets, employ staff and generate income will almost certainly need a business plan. Without a business plan, it will be difficult to plan the levels of fees, or match fees required. It will be difficult to identify whether the club is facing a financial shortfall. The business planning process can help identify opportunities for the club. Most external funders also require some sort of business plan. A business plan need not be complex, but it must be reviewed at least quarterly, and updated at least annually.

  • Some clubs use their business planning process as a way of involving members in the agreement of the priorities for the club, and helping them to become clearer about the financial and administrative issues facing the club.


Help with business planning

Available from

Some governing bodies provide structured club development programmes which include business planning. The Business Gateway service runs seminars and can provide information. Similarly, the CVS network can provide advice and information. Larger clubs could benefit from seeking advice from an accountant or management consultant.

How can we raise funds for the club?

Many clubs are successful at fundraising. There are many ways in which this can be done, most of which will be familiar to all clubs. For example, you can try:

  • Various forms of lottery, "200 clubs" or similar.
  • Raffle tickets.
  • Social events.
  • Sporting events, such as open competitions.
  • Selling goods on which the club takes a profit.

Some clubs have also been able to diversify their activities through, for example:

  • Letting part of the club to community organisations (although there may be licensing issues involved).
  • Letting facilities to other clubs.
  • Selling surplus assets.

Some clubs are also successful in attracting sponsorship. This is rarely easy, and clubs will inevitably face many rejections.

  • Clubs which are successful in attracting sponsorship approach this in a very professional manner, identifying what the business sponsor can gain from the deal, presenting the benefits in a clear and concise manner, ensuring that the business is well-treated and that feedback is given on what the money was used for. Poorly written letters which do not make clear what the money is for, and what the benefit to the business might be, are most unlikely to succeed.


Help with raising funds

Available from

There is good advice on raising funds on the www.helpforclubs.org.uk website. Scottish Business in the Community is a good source of information about how voluntary organisations and local businesses can support each other in a mutually beneficial way ( www.sbcscot.com, or 0131 451 1100).

How can we get access to grants?

Grants are a perennial problem for sports clubs. Relatively few clubs are able to access grants, and those that do often receive only very small amounts. It is clear, however, that some clubs are very successful indeed in securing grants. Some of the keys to this success are to:

Be well-organised as a business: many external funders want to see evidence that their money will be well spent. Clubs with a business plan, a sport development plan and audited accounts are much more likely to be able to demonstrate this. These clubs are also much more likely to be able to cope with the administration requirements of the funder.

Invest in the skills of those making the applications: clubs' success in securing funding is nearly always down to one person, or a small group of people. These people develop an expertise in this area. Some local authorities and CVSs offer training in making funding applications. Increasing numbers of funders are also providing basic help.

Become acquainted with funding sources: there are many funding sources available (both large and small). Clubs which are successful in obtaining external funding usually have a person, or a group of people, who are charged with identifying funding sources, making contact with them and downloading information. At a basic level, it is usually a good idea to register to receive information about forthcoming grant programmes. Where roadshows or "meet the funder" events are promoted, clubs should make sure someone attends.

Cast the funding net wider than sport: some of the clubs who appear to be successful in securing external funding do so from non-sport sources (for example, health and criminal justice). Clearly, this may require a good deal of proactive effort on the part of the clubs concerned.

Read the objectives and rules carefully: virtually no grants are available for mainstream club expenditure. One of the key lessons learned by clubs who participated in our research was to ensure that applications conform exactly to the needs of the funder.

Always type the application, and always keep copies:it is clear that successful clubs can make more applications than other clubs simply because much of the information required already exists in Word or Excel files.

Ask for feedback:even the most successful clubs are rarely successful in all applications. It is always worthwhile asking for feedback, although this will not always be provided.

  • "Awards for all" is probably the easiest grant to apply for. It provides up to £5000 for a range of purposes, and many sports clubs would be eligible to apply (although relatively few appear to do so). Information is available from www.awardsforall.org.uk or on 0141 242 1400.

There are many other grants which may be available (which cannot be listed here), and there is plenty of advice available about grant sources.


Help with applying for grants

Available from

There is a summary of grant givers available in a document called "Guide to Funding for Sports Projects" available in the Help for Clubs resources library (as well as basic information about types of funding). There are a number of publications in the "Running Sport" series about applying for funding.

Many of the major funders offer basic information, much of which is often more widely relevant. (There is a list in the Help for Clubs document mentioned above.) Local authorities, CVSs and governing bodies can provide help and information about the process of applying for grants.

Legal issues

What are the legal issues we need to be aware of?

The complexity of your club's legal position depends on two main things: whether you employ staff, and whether your club owns assets. Among the areas which you need to be aware of are:

  • Employment law.
  • Tax and VAT.
  • Equalities legislation.
  • Child protection.
  • Health and Safety legislation.
  • Environmental legislation.
  • Data protection.
  • Charitable status.

This is only a selection of some of the main areas. This booklet is not intended to give you detailed legal advice, but it is important that you seek this out. It is also in everybody's interest that clubs follow good practice in these issues.


Help with legal issues

Available from

www.helpforclubs.org.uk and www.scvo.org.uk both have a good summary of the main issues. Advice specific to individual sports is generally available from governing bodies. Local authorities can also be a good source of advice.

What about child protection?

Child protection policies are absolutely essential for all clubs, whether or not you currently have children who are members. For example, your club may have children as spectators, and children of members should also be covered. Again, even though the club may not have children as members, schools may use the facilities.

Children 1st - Child Protection in Sport has been established to provide detailed advice and guidance to sports clubs about all aspects of child protection. Each local authority and each governing body issues specific guidance on child protection policies and the need for Disclosure Scotland checks. It is essential that all clubs seek advice, and put policies in place.

  • Most clubs have provided some training and guidance to all coaches and volunteers, as well as, in some cases, parents, on child protection issues.


Help with child protection issues

Available from

For basic advice and framework policies, contact your local authority or governing body. Most also provide training courses for club office bearers, including child protection officers. Children 1st provides advice and guidance to clubs on all aspects of child protection - their website is

Staffing issues

Relatively few clubs employ staff, and those that do tend to be concentrated in a relatively narrow range of sports. According to the survey of clubs, most employees are in bar and catering and ground maintenance posts. Relatively few are employed in administration functions (other than in golf clubs). Increasing numbers of clubs are employing coaches.

Do we need to employ staff?

In most cases, the answer will be no. For the most part, only clubs with grounds to maintain, or clubhouses to manage are likely to need staff, but there are many ways that staff can benefit a club.

  • Employing a staff member can bring considerable benefits to a club, for example in terms of encouraging the use of facilities by young people and ensuring that facilities are kept to a high standard. As an example, a club in the Highlands which employed a full time administrator / coach for the first time has seen a wide range of benefits from doing this.

What help is available to recruit staff?

Both the Help for Clubs and SCVO websites have a great deal of useful information about employing staff (as do many governing bodies). Clubs can get access to a wide range of good practice guidance and specimen documents, such as job descriptions, application forms etc.

Practical help with recruitment is available through the JobCentre Plus network. In some cases, financial support may be available through either JobCentre Plus or local authorities.

Help with employment law is perhaps less easy to come by, but would always be available through solicitors (and may be available through the CVS network and governing bodies).


Help with recruiting staff

Available from

www.helpforclubs.org.uk and www.scvo.org.uk both have a good summary of the main issues and provide specimen policies etc. The Jobcentre Plus network can provide practical help via local offices or www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk

Is help available for training?

Sourcing training is usually possible through local colleges or training providers. Some training providers specialise in particular areas (for example, hospitality) and so it may be necessary to approach a college or other provider outwith your local area. Advice on training may be available through the Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise networks (for larger clubs) and through the CVS network (for smaller clubs). Most governing bodies also provide advice on training as it relates to their sport, although much work - related training is generic, rather than specific to individual sports.

Learndirect provides a considerable amount of online training, as well as facilitating access to training through a network of other providers. Learndirect also provides advice to businesses and voluntary organisations on training development issues.

  • Some larger clubs have developed structured training plans, based on a training needs analysis and an assessment of the skills needs of the club. Some clubs, again, usually larger clubs, have been accredited through Investors in People.

Training for coaches is available from local authorities and governing bodies.


Help with training

Available from

www.helpforclubs.org.uk and www.scvo.org.uk both have a good summary of the main issues and provide specimen policies etc. The Jobcentre Plus network can provide practical help via local offices or www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk. Learndirect is accessible through www.learndirect.co.uk.

Equalities issues

Why should we address equalities issues?

Promoting equality for your members, volunteers and staff is good practice for any club. Removing barriers to participation can help recruitment and retention. Registration as a Community Amateur Sports Club, or seeking to become a Registered Charity (as well as many local authority and sport - specific accreditation schemes) require that the club operates in an open and fair manner, and can be used by all members of the community. Saying that the club is "open to all" is rarely enough.

sportscotland has recently launched the Equity Standard for sports clubs. This framework is designed to help clubs take a structured approach to becoming open and fair in all aspects of their operation. The standard is offered at four levels. The basic, "foundation" standard requires that the club is committed to equality, has a policy which has been communicated to all staff and key volunteers, and that the club monitors its staff, players and volunteers. There are three other levels, leading to an "advanced" level, with a set of stringent requirements. The achievement of the standard should be regarded as a key indicator of a "good" club, and should help to attract both members and volunteers.

Some clubs have developed equalities policies and strategies which are proactive in promoting equality rather than simply being passive in avoiding discrimination. Some clubs also have strong links with local community organisations of and for members of various "equalities" groups.


Help with the equity standard

Available from

www.sportscotland.org.uk Basic information about equalities issues is also available through governing bodies, local authorities and Local Sports Councils.