More than half of community sports groups face fear of closure – survey

Community sports leaders continue to face a shortage of funding and support, according to findings from a new survey.

Research by sports charity Sported and TSB found that a quarter of people have seen their local group close down, with more than half (54 per cent) facing the fear of closure if they cannot find professional support or funding.

Almost three quarters (71 per cent) of sports club members said the leaders of their group are volunteers working in their spare time and 61 per cent are concerned about the lack of volunteers.

Sported supports more than 3,000 groups through its Sport for Development programme, 85 per cent of which are in urban areas, with 44 per cent operating in the bottom third of the most deprived areas in the UK.

Today (25 January), TSB announced a new partnership with the charity under which local TSB branches will provide support in operational areas such as budgeting, marketing, social media and PR.

The scheme will launch in four areas: north-east Scotland, south Midlands, Thames Valley and the south coast, and Greater Manchester.

“For many, local sports groups are the hub of community life and the people who run them and support them all share the same values,” said Paul Pester, CEO of TSB.

“Sport has a transformational power that enables people to thrive – it teaches teamwork and problem-solving skills and it builds a sense of infectious pride that spreads to teammates, families and the local community.”

Sported CEO Chris Grant added: “This new partnership brings together Sported’s network and experience in Sport for Development with the expertise and enthusiasm of TSB staff to help these vital community assets survive and thrive.”

More than 1,000 members of community sports clubs were surveyed in January. Other findings showed:

• 82 per cent of parents believe community sports groups are important for their children’s personal development.

• 77 per cent of people feel community sport is an important part of their social life and helps maintain their happiness.

• 68 per cent believe community sport improves community cohesion.

• 68 per cent say community sport is vital in transforming the lives of young people.

• 69 per cent say their local sports group helped them meet people from a different background.

• 65 per cent believe community sport is important in helping reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

While many groups survive without external investment, in November 2017, 32 community projects welcomed news from Sport England of £4.4m (US$5.87m, €4.92m) in National Lottery funding.

The funding aims to help community groups recruit more women, disabled people, young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to volunteer for sport and physical activity initiatives.

First published www.sportsmangement.co.uk, written by Rob Gibson 25 January 2018