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9 August 2012
Community sports clubs and charities in England and Wales are facing a long-term slump in income – despite efforts to secure an 'Olympic legacy' as a result of the 2012 Games, according to new research by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
Analysis by the CAF reveals that the income of local sports clubs and charities has fallen by 15% in real-terms since 2004 – the year before the Olympics was awarded to London.
The slump has hit grassroots clubs and charities with incomes below £100,000 a year. But larger sports organisations ­­– with annual incomes of more than £100,000 have fared better, with a 3% real-terms increase in funding since 2004.
CAF, which promotes charitable giving and provides financial services and social finance to not-for-profit organisations, looked at the financial returns made between 2004-2011 of community clubs and charities listing their work as focussing solely on 'amateur sports'.
CAF's analysis of financial returns from 1,624 amateur sports clubs and charities which filed accounts each year between 2004 and 2011 reveals a bleak picture for community sport at a time when the Government is keen to secure an 'Olympic Legacy'.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance's 2011 Sports Club Survey highlighted the financial problems facing many smaller sports clubs and charities. It found smaller organisations have little funds to weather difficult economic times and are struggling to recruit and retain members, making it even harder to generate sufficient income to survive, let alone update their facilities to attract new members.
Richard Harrison, Director of Research at CAF, said: “The last eight years have been tough for many grassroots sports clubs and charities, despite the growing sense of excitement about the Olympics and the desire to secure a long-term sporting legacy.
“The financial pressures facing many community charities, running sports clubs, maintaining playing fields and keeping local facilities open, mirrors the difficult financial climate facing many charities as they grapple with a squeeze in income and increasing demand for their services.
“The generosity of British people is matched only by their enthusiasm for sport of all kinds. The spectacle of the Olympics is a fantastic opportunity for people to come together, experience the satisfaction of volunteering and support good causes as well as our Olympic athletes.
“While larger charities have, on the whole, managed to stay afloat financially, our research shows that we need people to keep backing local sports clubs and charities as well, to ensure they can continue to support grassroots sport, and all the other causes we care about.”
Tim Lamb, Chief Executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said:
"Our annual sports club survey is the biggest sports club research of its kind in the country, and it's telling us that there seems to be a rather worrying vicious circle taking place. As membership levels fall, club incomes drop. Clubs then reduce their spending and investment in the club infrastructure is reduced. In turn, this can make the club offer less appealing.
“Ultimately, this will make it difficult to retain or attract members, and the concern is that if economic conditions worsen we will lose many clubs that are a vital part of the fabric of our communities, and with them, their facilities, expertise and a generation of volunteers.
“It's vital that local and central government work closely with the sector to deliver the full potential of the Games in order to get people more active.”