6,000 sports clubs could sink in economic storm, new data reveals

CCPR today released the results of a survey which reveal the full toll that the recession could take on the UK's sports clubs.

According to the poll of clubs, half are already feeling the effects of the recession, with almost the same amount believing that the situation will get worse. The recession is also forcing clubs to reduce investment in coaching, in kit, facilities and community initiatives.

Thirty nine percent of clubs have seen membership renewals fall, which could hit the Government's chances of meeting its target of getting a million more people into sport by the time of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Clubs are also seeing a significant reduction in the numbers of new member inquiries they are receiving.

Most worryingly of all, many clubs are recording substantial declines in revenue as a result of the recession. 40% are seeing membership subscription income fall, while 60% are suffering from reductions in the revenue they manage to raise commercially.

Surprisingly, volunteering is also being affected by the economic downturn, with more than a fifth of clubs saying that the circumstances have had a negative or very negative impact on attracting and retaining volunteers.

All this means that clubs are being forced to make changes. Almost half of those surveyed are either reducing investment in kit or facilities or are considering it. Staff reductions, reductions in opening hours and cutbacks in the amount of coaching and training offered are all happening too.

According to the data, a small proportion of clubs believe it is likely that they will have to close in the next twelve months. If this proportion were extrapolated, it could lead to the loss of 6,000 community sports clubs across the UK

Brigid Simmonds OBE, CCPR Chair, says the results of the survey are worrying.

"The data shows that sports clubs are in trouble. CCPR has been pushing the Government to do more for clubs through our ‘Subs for Clubs' campaign and by fighting off endless increases in regulation which increase their costs. This survey shows that that unless we act, thousands of local sports clubs could go under. That would be a tragic shame for their members and their communities.

"Even those which survive the recession are telling us that they are going to have to make cutbacks. These clubs have to make ends meet and falls in subscriptions will be met with reductions in coaching, in investment in kit and facilities, in community programmes. There can be no doubt that cuts will set us back.

"The Government needs sports clubs to introduce the ‘five hour offer' for sport in schools. They simply do not have the staff or commitment from schools without involving local sports clubs.

"What we need now is a moratorium on any new regulations, laws and charges affecting clubs. We are already fighting off liquor licensing fees, drainage charges from multi-million pound water companies, a development tax and music licence fees. Sport needs all the support it can get but from the reception we get in some government departments you would think we were selling cigarettes or fatty foods, rather than sport. We know that clubs are likely to go to the wall as a result of the recession. What we don't want is to compound that with any new regulations which could push still more over the edge."


  • CCPR's national conference, Running on Empty? Sport in a Recession is being held today at the Grange City Hotel, EC3. Speakers include Andy Burnham MP, Richard Lewis, the new Chair of Sport England and Roger Mosey, the BBC's Director of London 2012.
  • 160 clubs were polled over two weeks for the survey.
  • A full summary of the results can be obtained by contacting James Stibbs – 07974 344 843.
  • Case studies are also available upon request.
  • CCPR is the umbrella organisation for 290 national governing and representative bodies of sport and recreation in the UK, which speaks and acts to promote, protect and develop the interests of sport and physical recreation at all levels.