Sport calls on ministers to cut clubs free of red tape

The Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) has published a report commissioned by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, into the regulatory burdens facing clubs. ‘The nation’s sports clubs are being choked by red tape and bureaucracy which is unnecessary, wastes time and money and is stopping volunteers from playing a fuller role in their communities.’

These include:

  • Being charged for a music licence for playing a radio in the changing room or putting the TV in the bar on for the football results
  • Local authorities not allowing clubs to use their leisure facilities unless they have £5m of public liability insurance
  • Being charged VAT to develop public facilities open to the community, forcing clubs to raise 20% more than they should need to
  • Local councils banning volunteers from maintaining footpaths and rights of way in case they are sued if something goes wrong
  • Being charged the same as high street bars and nightclubs for liquor licensing
  • VAT being charged on spending funded by government grants – an immediate take-back of 20% and a waste of everyone’s time
  • Clubs adhering to the Health and Safety Act even when not required to do so for fear of being sued
  • Sports graduates being required to re-train to meet national standards, despite having spent three years at university
  • Even the smallest clubs having to register as a ‘data controller’ under the Data Protection Act

The report will feed into the Government’s wider review of regulation being conducted by the Cabinet Office.

Sport and Recreation Alliance Chair, Brigid Simmonds OBE, believes that the Review can provide real momentum for change in the way the sector is regulated “Every politician acknowledges that sports clubs do nothing but good in their communities. Now is the chance to back that acknowledgement with actions and to make life easier for the volunteers who run our clubs.

“Quite simply, sports clubs are choked by red tape. Many of it may be well-meaning but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is making life so hard for clubs that it is putting volunteers off, wasting their valuable time and actually preventing them from growing.

“Sports clubs are unique bodies – the vast majority are run by volunteers on behalf of the communities in which they live. They aren’t businesses and there’s not a competitor waiting to step in if a club folds or a volunteer resigns. Our clubs provide a service to their communities which is irreplaceable and that needs to be recognised in the way rules and regulations are applied to them. Sometimes that will mean making exceptions to the rules so that our clubs can thrive.

“This is the first time in a generation that a government has taken our long-standing complaints about over-regulation of clubs seriously. The Review is wide-ranging but we are optimistic that many of the issues we raise can be solved by working together
in the spirit in which the report was commissioned. “

Read the full Review on the SRA website