Grassroots sport: A guide to registering as a charity or a community amateur sports club
Grassroots sport is the foundation upon which elite sporting success is built. Media attention and commercial revenue will, inevitably, be drawn to the highest levels, but it is important that we do not neglect the foundations since, without them, elite sport could not continue. It is for this reason that Sport England is investing a total of £493m into 46 sports between 2013 and 2017 to increase participation.1
Of course, as any sports enthusiast knows, spending large sums of money does not necessarily guarantee success. There also needs to be a robust governance system in place, as well as an appropriate corporate structure to make effective use of the available resources - something that Jon Walters explored in his recent guide, available here.2
For grassroots amateur and semi-pro clubs that are not-for-profit, there is also the additional consideration of whether they can and should register as either a charity or a community amateur sports club to achieve tax concessions. This article summarises and explores the options available to such clubs, and the factors that the individuals involved in running them should take into account when deciding how to set up a club for future success.
1. Overview of options available to not-for-profit sports clubs
Although there may be other options available, the three main options in the UK that a grassroots sports club should consider are:
- a club formally registered as community amateur sports clubs (“CASC”); or
- a club formally registered as a charity; or
- a commercial or not-for-profit club without a specific registration;
Previously, it had not been entirely straightforward for sports clubs to register as charities since the advancement of amateur sports had not been recognised as a charitable purpose in its own right. It was for this reason that the CASC scheme was introduced in the Finance Act 2002.3 The scheme provides registered CASCs with tax reliefs broadly comparable with charities. As at the end of 2014, there were 6,654 clubs registered as CASCs and they have collectively achieved a tax saving of over £181,200,000.4
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Darren is an associate in the Charity & Social Enterprise Team at Stone King LLP and has significant experience in advising charities, social enterprises and other not-for-profit and community organisations. He has developed a particular interest and specialism in advising sports organisations. He formed part of the Charity Law Association’s working party which responded to the Charity Commission’s consultation on the advancement of amateur sport and has also written numerous articles and spoken at events to discuss the new regulations regarding community amateur sports clubs.