0 Sport for all-Where to find funding for sport

Sport for all-Funding for Sports Clubs

'Participation the key to funding the growth of grass-roots sport'

The Government's strategy to get the population more physically active is filtering through to grass-roots sport, where aspects of local provision such as community involvement can hold the key to funding streams for cash-strapped clubs.

Soundbites may come and go but Sport for All is still the name of the game - the greater the public's level of sports participation, the greater the opportunity for local clubs to bid successfully for precious funding. But there is no money tree from which they simply pluck blank cheques.

Often it is a question of a hard-won fight for cash and of knowing `how to play the game', whatever the size of the club.

In essence, we are witnessing the transition from an amateur to a professional sporting dynamic, even at grass-roots level, and clubs have to demonstrate their professionalism by showing funding bodies that they can run their organisation to proven successful models.

National sporting agendas aside, a huge opportunity will open up for clubs across the country now that London will host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - some say the best opportunity this country has ever had for inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in sport.

A large slice of the funding that sports clubs receive annually is generated by the National Lottery. Each of the home countries has a national sports council (Sport England, Sport Scotland, Sports Council Wales, Sports Council for Northern Ireland), and they are the agencies charged with administering Lottery funds in accordance with their own key objectives.

In England, the main funding stream for sports clubs to apply to develop their facilities is the Community Club Development Programme. Set up in December 2002 and administered by Sport England, the CCDP is a collaboration between the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England and 16 national governing bodies of sport (four band A and 12 band B). The £60m programme is earmarked for some 250-300 projects designed to meet the CCDP's aims of creating 'a sustainable and financial viable sports club infrastructure in England that links with schools, provides appropriate support and pathways for identifying and developing talented individuals and meets the needs of local communities'.

Capital funding programmes exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each with their own criteria and levels of support (see Table: National Sports Councils).

In Eire, the Irish Sports Council channels funds primarily through national governing bodies and its network of Local Sports Partners.

In all cases the objective is to get people to start, stay and succeed in sport at every level.

Eligibility criteria

Funding sources lay down set criteria for eligibility. To stand the best chance of receiving a grant or loan, clubs will need to prepare a detailed written business plan.
This will demonstrate the intent of the club to not only increase participation, but also to maintain their facilities at a high standard. When allocating funding, the respective sports governing body and national sports council, for example, will ask what the club will contribute to the local economy and community.
If the club can convince the agency that they can do this, as well as promote the health and fitness of those using their facilities, they stand a good chance of being granted funding. The accent on community participation does not rule out the involvement of clubs in elite sport.

Applying clubs might have aspirations to train aspiring Olympic athletes at their site, for example, as well as running a community sports programme.

Excellence is a major priority for the national sports councils. A club that shows the intent to train athletes at Olympic standard will attract interest from funding bodies, as this is seen as meeting seal of excellence. The potential for participation will also be increased as higher standards of equipment and training make the club a more attractive and enduring proposition for a younger and broader catchment.

By embracing the concept of excellence, clubs are seen to be leading the way in contributing to their community, in training professional athletes, training and employing coaches and encouraging youngsters to engage in sports activities. Clubs who seek funding should ensure that the potential they have to achieve excellence is clearly outlined in their business plan.

Commercial funding

Sportsmatch, run in England, Scotland and Wales, is the government's business sponsorship incentive scheme for grass-roots sport, assists in this process by matching pound for pound commercial investment in approved community sports development programmes. In line with the government's overall strategy, it is directed at projects that aim to increase participation in sport at grass-roots level and improve basic skills.
Sporting projects typically involve coaching and development programmes, which aim to increase participation and improve basic skills. Applicants can include national governing bodies, clubs, schools, local authorities or other competent deliverers of sporting experience.

Process summary

The first point of call should be your own sport's governing body. Find out who the regional or local representative is, discuss the project to see if it fits in with the governing body's strategy. Without support from your governing body you are unlikely to receive funding.

Draft an outline plan of the project with estimated costs. Bear in mind that you will not receive a 100% grant (50% will be good going), so consider where the rest of the funds are going to come from.

Contact your local sports council to discuss the project; you should get some indication of whether you are likely to receive funding if you were to go ahead with an application.

If you get a green light, complete the application form. Make sure you cover all the issues, and highlight the works and programmes you are proposing to do which fit in with the sports council's and sport's priorities. Also, make sure you get estimates from reputable companies. The more thorough the initial application, the better your chances. Also, check when grant award meetings are taking place and give yourself a sensible timescale for getting the application in by the allotted deadline.

Funding Agencies

National Sports Councils

Sport England - £5,000 plus; decisions made locally by 9 regional sports boards. It is important that any application meets the www.sportengland.org/funding, or you can phone to discuss your idea on 08458 508 508. Excellent funding case studies.

Smaller fund - Awards for All www.awardsforall.org.uk - for grants between £500 and £5,000.

Sports Council Wales- Sportlot Capital, schemes over £5000, up to 70% of costs for voluntary organisations. Guidelines available on website www.sports-council-wales.co.uk. Smaller Community Chest, up to £750 in any one year, and specifically mentions Groundsmanship and ground improvements in the eligibility criteria. Tel: 029 2030 0500

Sports Council for Northern Ireland- Building Sport Scheme for capital projects which includes outdoor playing surfaces. Up to 85% grants available (95% if in a particular priority area). www.sportscouncil-ni.org.uk

Sport Scotland- www.sportscotland.org.uk. Funding primarily through local authorities and governing bodies. The National Strategy for Sport has 11 targets but no specific mention of improvement to or additional pitches. Delivery of the strategy is, however, heavily dependent on local authorities and others working in partnership to contribute to capital and revenue costs. Difficult to find what funding is available and to whom.

Irish Sports Council- www.irishsportscouncil.ie. Funding is allocated to sports National Governing Bodies who have to apply each year for funding. Clubs, one assumes, have to apply to their respective sport's governing body. As an alternative the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism have a capital grant fund for sports and recreational facilities. Up to 70% grant (80% in certain disadvantaged areas); floodlighting, playing surfaces (natural and synthetic) are included in the project listings. www.arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie

**NOTE FOR UK SPORTS CLUBS- without support from your sports' governing body it is very unlikely you will receive funding from your National Sports Council.

Commercial Funds

Sportsmatch- Government supported scheme to encourage local businesses to support grass roots sport. Matched funding available for approved projects. www.sportsmatch.co.uk Tel. 44(0)207 273 1942

Sport Specific Grants


The Football Foundation. Main funding schemes:-

Capital Projects - Funding is available to refurbish or construct changing rooms, grass and artificial pitches and clubhouses for community benefit. Funds applications with a 50% target level of grant support but, in exceptional cases, higher levels of support, up to a ceiling of 90%, will be available.

Schools Capital Projects - Grants of up to £1m are available to primary and secondary schools across England, to build or modernise football pitches, changing rooms, floodlights or multi -use games areas, providing new opportunities for extending sporting provision for pupils and communities.

Goalpost Safety - Provides funding for the replacement of unsafe goalposts. The Foundation will assist in funding half the cost of a pair of goals up to £1,500.

Contact: www.footballfoundation.org.uk

Rugby Union

Community rugby will be spearheading the Rugby Football Union's new strategic plan under a £14m cash injection for the sport over three years. The bulk of the money will be ploughed into facilities such as training pitches, floodlights and clubhouses via the Community Club Development Programme, the Rugby Football Foundation and the newly announced National Sports Foundation.

The Rugby Football Foundation itself provides two forms of funding -

An interest-free loan Scheme of up to £100,000 and pound for pound provision called Groundmatch Grant Scheme, which is available for projects between £1,500 and £5,000. Recent grants have been awarded for pitch improvements, pitch drainage, pitch purchase and floodlights. Eligibility criteria and application forms can be found under Rugby Football Foundation on the RFU website www.rfu.com


Funding available via the Community Club Development Programme. The ECB have identified 1,453 Focus Clubs nationwide. A Focus Club is one that has been identified for a clear strategic reason, and one that is committed to long-term junior development. Each Focus Club will be expected to meet certain criteria in return for ECB resources. There are a number of priority areas including fine turf (pitches, outfields, drainage and grass practice) and non-turf pitch/net systems. Information on www.ecb.co.uk in the Development section.

Lawn Tennis

It is not made clear on the website www.lta.org.uk but, as tennis is one of the 4 Band A sports (with football, cricket and rugby union) selected by Sport England, clubs will have access to funds via the Community Club Development Programme. There are guidance notes on planning facility projects and how to access funding, but no specific information or advice on priorities or projects suitable for funding.


Grants purely for greens improvements are difficult to find and, if any have been awarded, it is likely to be from a local funding source. Greens improvements are generally encompassed in an overall project to improve a park or sports facility. As such, funding has been sourced from local community agencies, local authorities, National Lottery Awards for All fund.


There are examples of funding, from local and national agencies, for environmental projects such as the creation/enhancement of wildlife areas. Funding is available for woodlands management and development www.forestry.gov.uk. The Royal & Ancient's Golf Development Committee have a reconditioned greenkeeping machinery programme, but examples on the website only show funding overseas www.randa.org

Rugby League

Funding is not available from the governing body, but guidance is given on suitable funding sources such as the sports councils' capital and community schemes, local authorities and Sportsmatch.


Horseracing Betting Levy Board. www.hblb.org.uk The Board supports a continuing programme of improvements with interest-free loans from its Capital Fund. High priority projects include improvement of the track, working areas (such as weighing rooms, stable yards and hostels). Financial support is also allocated each year to promote Research and Development projects designed to improve the horse welfare and related infrastructure at racecourses. Projects are proposed for funding by the Jockey Club Racecourse Committee.Grants approved in 2005/06 include support for a project to establish racecourse watering best practice at £10,000 a year for four years which started in 2002.

Case Study - Timperley Cricket, Hockey and Lacrosse Club

"The process of bidding for Lottery money is far less hindered by red tape now than it once was", says Colin Taylor, former club chairman and author of the club's first Lottery bid in 1997 in which he put the case for funding for accommodation and changing facilities and an administration centre to replace the traditional wooden housing.

That bid failed, a fact that the club was made aware of some 20 months after they had lodged the application. "We were left high and dry because the funding goalposts had been changed," recalls Taylor.

It was their second bid for Lottery cash in 1999 that ended in the award of a £0.4m grant from Sport England to part-fund a £1.1m redevelopment. "The newer grant-aiding process allows clubs to hear far earlier if they have made a successful bid," Taylor says.

Timperley's approach to winning Lottery cash is a little different from the norm, Taylor believes. "We didn't set out to chase funding," he explains. "Rather, we undertook a root and branch evaluation of the club and its future, then put forward a sports development strategy embracing a 20 to 30-year track record of community involvement (the club has been very active in schools through their long-established post of Lacrosse Development Officer, for example).

"We then went to Sport England's North-west region and asked them: `Will your Lottery funding fit this strategy?'" The game plan succeeded.

Although the funding application process has grown less cumbersome, the task is still a daunting one for clubs, Taylor believes "Funding documents are full of confusing language and this presents a real problem for community amateur sports clubs as there is still a lack of knowledge and expertise about how to prepare an application."

Given his experience working within local authority fund administration and application departments, Taylor is well-placed to talk on the subject.

"Applying for funding can be a big, long, confusing process. My view is not to chase the funding at all but to put together a robust financial and operational management plan, decide what you want to achieve and proceed from there.

"If you do not run your club as a business, you cannot demonstrate to funding sources any trustworthiness in delivery. You have to put your management house in order and run profitably."

Although Taylor's experience with the funding process he admits is "mixed", he believes that Timperley represents a good example of a club working in partnership with local and regional agencies and the community.

"It is our strong record with Trafford borough for example that helped us secure full funding for a sports development officer, in association with the authority and Greater Manchester Sports Partnership. We are creating employment."

Despite past trials and tribulations, Taylor is broadly praising of the Lottery bidding process. "It made us look closely at ourselves and we continue to apply some of the lessons we learned from doing that. Lottery bidding worked for us, that's for sure."

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