Making asset transfer simpler for community sports clubs
Sport England has today launched The Community Sport Asset Transfer Toolkit to help hundreds of community sports clubs across England tackle the complex world of asset transfer.
Asset transfer involves the shifting of the ownership of land or buildings from government organisations to community groups such as local sports clubs and trusts, giving them financial stability and independence. However, the transfer of an asset is complex and the process can be a daunting task for a sports club to undertake, especially those run mainly by volunteers.
With the development of this bespoke, interactive web based tool Sport England aims to provide clubs with a step by step guide through each stage of the asset transfer process. It will help open up the process to both established community sports organisations as well as new groups who believe they can put unused or underutilised sports facilities and public assets to better use.
Some clubs are already capitalising on the transfer of land and buildings from government to the voluntary and community sports sector. Bury St Edmunds Rugby Football Club successfully worked with their local council, St Edmunsbury Borough Council, to secure the freehold for their rugby ground earlier this year.
As an existing and well-run club, Bury St Edmunds had held the lease on the land for many years, but felt they needed to own the freehold in order to secure the future of the club and improve their facilities.
Bury St Edmunds Rugby Football Club Chairman, Philip Torkington, said: "We have had a very good relationship with the council over the years, particularly as we are a community based club that supports rugby, football and has major links with local schools and colleges. Securing the premises was critical to the club's main aim of achieving financial sustainability and independence. While the process was made easier by our good relationship with the council, had this toolkit existed when we started it would have really helped us fully appreciate the complexities of the process right from the outset."
The launch of the toolkit comes at an important time as local authorities are taking tough decisions around their assets and a key strand of the Big Society is to empower local communities by transferring assets into their control.
Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: "I want as many community sports clubs as possible to have control of their own assets. This updated guide will help them achieve this."
Developed in partnership with Locality - the UK's leading network for community-led organisations - the toolkit aims to make the process as accessible as possible by providing information, resources and case studies.
Sport England Chair, Richard Lewis, said: "For a club to have ownership of its own sporting facility, whether it is a playing field or clubhouse, can provide immense security both financially and practically. However, the process of obtaining an asset from a local authority can be long and arduous. By breaking the process down into manageable sections, this toolkit will help make it less daunting and let clubs focus on their main goal - getting people playing sport."
Locality Chief Executive, Steve Wyler, said: "Sporting facilities often sit at the heart of a community and with the right resources and expertise communities can turn these into thriving assets for their local area. This comprehensive toolkit which has been designed in partnership with Sport England will encourage and support viable sporting assets for the future."
Sport England's support for asset transfers will also be reflected in the Protecting Playing Fields and Inspired Facilities strands of our Places People Play programme. These two projects are part of the £135 million programme to deliver the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by bring the inspiration and magic of a home Games into the heart of local communities. Projects which are part of an asset transfer will be prioritised for funding by Sport England subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.