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Get help to find what you need

Club Matters offers support and guidance to clubs in a wide range of topics.

To help find what you need, select the option below which best describes your current situation.

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Get started

If your club is new or in the process of being set-up, we recommend exploring our Start a Club section.

This section is split into the following topics:

  • Things to think about before starting your club
  • The rules and structure your new club will adopt
  • The facilities and funding you will need in place
  • Raising awareness of your club
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For further information on the support available across Club Matters, visit our Get Started with Club Matters section.

Keep it up

If your club wants to maintain what it has, or check you’re doing the best you can, we recommend exploring our main topic areas in more detail.

Sign-up to workshops which cover key topic areas such as business planning, marketing, club structures, finances and tax.

Register for free for full access to our resources

Click on these boxes to access toolkits, online modules and interactive content. Have a look around to see which areas your club could benefit from.

For further information on the support available across Club Matters, visit our Get Started with Club Matters section.

Get back on track

My club is struggling on one or more areas and is looking for specific guidance.

We need help growing or maintaining our membership levels We need to manage our finances better We are looking for guidance on applying for funding We need more volunteers to help run our club We are unsure what good governance really means or how we can improve We don’t know if our club’s legal structure is right for us We need support with our facilities or lack of facilities We want to better understand our members and what they want from the club

Top Tips

1. Think about the best way to market your club to reach potential new members

2. Make sure your club is welcoming and inclusive to appeal to new members

3. Make your club experience extraordinary, so that your current members want to stay

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Marketing Inclusivity Members and Participants

Top Tips

1. Get into a routine of checking your club’s financial position and keeping records

2. Plan for the future and develop a budget, to help you keep costs on track

3. Get your income from a variety of sources, to stay sustainable

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Managing Money Budgeting Generating Income

Top Tips

1. Create a clear club development plan to show funders that you have realistic goals

2. Research the best funding for your club

3. Don’t forget the other ways to raise funds for your club, including fundraising, forming partnerships and gaining sponsorship

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Club Development Plan Funding Guidance Generating Income

Top Tips

1. Look beyond your current volunteer base - don’t just rely on those who already have a link to the club

2. Convey the wider benefits of volunteering, such as improving a CV or boosting self-confidence

3. Improve the experience of your current volunteers to reduce the risk of them leaving

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Finding Volunteers Developing Volunteers Keeping Volunteers

Top Tips

1. Governance is all about having the right people, policies, procedures and structure in place at your club

2. Protect your club’s reputation by creating, communicating and following a robust set of policies

3. Have an effective committee with clear roles and responsibilities, skills and experiences

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Governance Policies and Procedures Effective Committees

Top Tips

1. Explore all the options available and consider seeking legal advice

2. Incorporating your club creates a separate legal entity and protects your committee and members from entering into contracts in their own name

3. Adopting charitable status or becoming a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) can provide benefits such as tax relief for your club

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Club structures Incorporated Charitable Status CASC

Top Tips

1. Carry out risk assessments for the facilities you use

2. Hiring or leasing facilities is often the simplest solution if you only need to access them for a few hours each week

3. If you own your facilities, make sure you are clued up on business rates and energy saving measures to keep costs down

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Club Facilities Risk Assessment Managing Costs

Top Tips

1. The way people participate in sport is changing, you need to make sure your club is flexible and can adapt to modern lifestyles and demands

2. Seek feedback from your members

3. Every club can improve, keep trying to make your club’s experience even better by creating and following an action plan

Links

Check out the following pages for specific guidance:

Understanding Your Members Understanding Your Offer Delivering a Great Experience Being Consistently Brilliant

Raise the bar

If your club is keen to develop and you want to improve your current offer, we recommend using our Club Improvement Tool.

The tool prompts you to think about how your club is performing now and where you would like it to be in the future. Based on your responses, the tool directs you to specific resources to help you reach your goals.

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For further information on the support available across Club Matters, visit our Get Started with Club Matters section.

Clubmark

Clubmark is Sport England’s universally acknowledged, cross-sport accreditation scheme.

If your club wants to achieve Clubmark accreditation or you want to find out more, we recommend exploring our Clubmark section.

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For further information on the support available across Club Matters, visit our Get Started with Club Matters section.

Club Management

Incorporated Organisations

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To protect their committee and members, more and more clubs are choosing to separate the legal identity of their club by becoming incorporated.

Want to find out what incorporation is all about? Check out our new interactive, step-by-step guide. View the demo below or register and log-in to access the full guide.
Click here for full version

Being incorporated allows the club to enter into contracts in its own right and offers protection for club members. Below are the different types of incorporation your club could adopt:

Company limited by guarantee

Like an unincorporated association, a club set up as a company limited by guarantee will be owned by its members. The main difference is that the club will have a separate legal identity allowing it to enter into contracts in its own right. This structure is well suited to club operating on a non-profit making basis where membership changes regularly. Members agree to pay a minimal amount if the club becomes insolvent, limiting their liability. Members are entitled to attend members meetings and vote which includes appointing and removing directors.

A club set up as a Company Limited by Guarantee will be governed by its Articles of Association and depending on how the articles are written, may qualify for grant funding.

Advantages of a company limited by guarantee include:

  • Separate Legal Entity. This allows the club to enter into contracts and hold assets or investments in its own name
  • Limited Liability. Members are protected and only required to pay an agreed sum (typically £1) if the club becomes insolvent. Having limited liability will protect the directors (of the company) and members against a claim, provided the directors have been compliant with company law requirements.

The main disadvantage of a company limited by guarantee is the additional administrative work needed to comply with legal requirements. These including filing annual accounts, annual returns and providing directors’ information to Companies House. There are fines for missing deadlines. The articles will need careful drafting to protect the club and its assets.

The Starting a Company section on GOV UK has more information on starting a company and the ongoing requirements.

Company limited by shares

A company limited by shares is similar to a company limited by guarantee. The main difference is that it is owned by its shareholders and the percentage of ownership is dependent on the number of shares purchased. Community sports clubs typically do not use a company limited by shares although this structure may be used where an investor into a club wants to retain ownership (e.g. some football clubs).

Community Interest Company (CIC)

A Community Interest Company is a company that operates for the benefit of the community. To become a CIC the company (limited by guarantee or shares) must apply and demonstrate their community benefit. As a company members enjoy limited liability. CICs must meet certain requirements which set out how assets can be used (e.g. asset lock).

An advantage of a CIC include is that it provides a clear, limited company structure, for clubs wanting to be seen as social enterprises rather than a charity. The rules, including the assets lock and community benefit test, provide clarity and focus on what it means to be of benefit to the community.

CICs offer no tax reliefs but have additional administration requirements.

The CIC regulator has more information and step by step guides on CICs. The CIC FAQs may also be of interest.

Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies

Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies are types of structure that were previously known as Industrial and Provident Societies. They are reasonably straight forward to set up and provide a separate legal identity for the club and offer protection to members. For many clubs, a company limited by guarantee is more straightforward to set up and administer. Companies are also more likely to be recognised and understood by external parties (e.g. banks, local authorities).

Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Refer to the FCA website for more information.

Charitable Incorporated Organisation

Charitable Incorporated Organisations are, as the name suggests, organisations that offer the benefits of being incorporated and charitable status in one body. A CIO is a simple mechanism for a charity to trade although trading for a profit would still require a trading arm.

CIOs are regulated by one body – the Charities Commission – and therefore can be simpler to administer than clubs set up a company with charitable status. The latter would have obligations to both Companies House and the Charities Commission.

In order to register as a CIO, the objects must be exclusively charitable and meet the public benefit test.

If all of the club’s income is to come from gifts and grants then a CIO model may be appropriate. But it restricts fundraising if the club wanted to develop property or land that could be borrowed against.

The main advantages of a CIO are:

  • They provide a separate legal entity for the club and offer members limited liability
  • It may reduce administration in comparison to a charitable company.

The main disadvantages of a CIO include:

  • The reduction in administration over a charitable company may not be significant
  • As a relatively new structure it is less well known and understood by third parties including banks and local authorities, but this is gradually changing.

For further information see the Charities Commission.