December 9, 2022
Sports clubs are an integral part of society, and bring physical, mental and social benefits to people of all ages and abilities. Whether people want to get fit, improve their skills, meet new people or support their local community, amateur clubs across every sport deliver on every count.
For those running a sports club, the experience of getting a successful club off the ground can be extremely rewarding. However, there’s much more to it than getting some kit and equipment and rounding up some people for training. You need to have a clear plan of what you want to do and how you want to do it, and there are a number of legal obligations to meet, too.
In this guide, we’ll explore the basic objectives and responsibilities to consider when starting your own sports club.
The first step when working out how to start a sports club is to take your dreams and aspirations, and turn them into a more practical reality. You may have bold ambitions to build a club that’s successful on the pitch or that plays a leading role in your community, but these ambitions mean nothing without the funding and people in place to make it happen.
Before doing anything else, make sure you cover all these three areas:
Determine the size and type of your club (and name it!)
A good place to start is by working out exactly what your club intends to do. For example, how many teams or competitors will it operate with? Will it be open for adults and/or children, for men and/or women, and will it incorporate disabled sports? Which competitions will it take part in? Answering these simple questions will help you make the right decisions with everything else – and can also help you come up with a suitable club name.
Define your target market and recruitment strategy
Next, you can consider how you’re going to attract competitors, coaches and associated staff to your club. Obviously, if you’re operating on a professional or semi-professional basis, then you’ll be able to offer payments to them, but you still need to reach out to them and convince them that your club is right for them.
It’s more likely, however, that you’ll be operating on a purely amateur basis to begin with, and that makes your marketing, communication, website and social media all-important. Many established competitors (even juniors) may already be involved with existing clubs, so you’ll need to create a compelling offering to attract new members.
Work out how the club will be financed
With your key objectives and target market nailed down, you can then assess the finances of the operation. Start by looking at equipment costs, premises-related expenditure like pitch and changing room hire, competition entry and registration fees, and other essential spending like insurance.
Once you have an idea of how much it will cost to run the club for a year, you can then explore your options in generating that money. In most cases, this will be through member subscription fees, but at a time when people are looking at the finances in more detail than ever, keeping these costs down – especially for junior clubs -is vital. At the same time, don’t neglect the difference that even small-scale sponsorship from local businesses can make.
Once you’ve got a firmer concept for your club in place, you can then go into the detail of your sports club from an operational side. As well as making sure you’ve got the right premises and equipment in place, you’ll need to navigate a number of legally required or highly recommended hurdles:
Sports clubs can operate on either an unincorporated or incorporated basis. Unincorporated clubs are simpler, more flexible and potentially cheaper to run, but it also means that asset ownership and liability can fall on individual members themselves.
If your club is operating as an incorporated business, then members are secure from any liability if something goes wrong. However, the club will likely have to be registered at Companies House with the appropriate accounts and tax filed, and this can be more expensive and time consuming to administer.
Like any business, a sports club will need a properly defined framework for who is in charge, who is responsible for what, and how people are appointed to those positions of responsibility.
An unincorporated club of members needs a written code of how votes are conducted, and clear procedures for how people take up and leave different posts. Incorporated clubs will also provide this, although it may be focused more on business ownership. However, it can run alongside a company registration where certain directors need to be nominated.
In either case, you are likely to find that the creation of these governance frameworks are required by the organising bodies of the sports and competitions you want to be involved with.
Every club will also need to take care of various different policies and procedures relating to its activity. For example, paid employees will need contracts, health and safety risk assessments will need to be carried out, and there will be needs for criminal record checks and safeguarding if there are junior members. As well as these requirements, it’s also essential that every club takes out insurance that covers its staff, competitors and assets, protecting them against accident, injury or claims of negligence.
Every sports club, big or small, needs top-quality insurance cover to guarantee that managers, players, staff and property are all protected should the unforeseen happens. At Protectivity, we have decades of experience insuring sports clubs like yours with competitively priced policies. Including Public Liability, Employers’ Liability, Sports Equipment Cover and Clubhouse Cover, you can grow your club with confidence, and be sure that you’re meeting all your legal responsibilities, too.
Find out more on all the sports club insurance policies we have to offer here.