The government has launched a new sports strategy that highlights the importance of good governance and the wider community benefits of sport.
Published on 17 December 2015, the policy paper is themed “Sporting future: a new strategy for an active nation”. The strategy also looks at how promoting standards of good governance can help tackle corruption in sport.
James Mathie, club development manager at Supporters Direct, said: “We commend the government for producing a sports strategy that reflects what we see through the many volunteer sports groups and clubs that we work with.
“It breaks new ground by recognising that sport should be measured for its impact on the community and how good governance and community involvement needs to be at the heart of that.”
The report sets a target for the UK to “establish a new governance code that will be rigorously enforced at home and set a new standard internationally”. SD welcomes this objective and would like to see the new governance code implemented across all professional sports clubs and governing bodies.
The policy paper also looks at supporter empowerment and how to strengthen the links between clubs and their fans.
The government pledges to monitor how the football authorities and supporter groups implement the findings of the Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement. Supporters Direct is a member of the Expert Working Group, which aims to identify solutions to current barriers preventing greater collective supporter share ownership of football clubs.
“Sport can help build stronger communities by bringing people together, often from different backgrounds, to make them feel better about where they live, improve community links and cohesion and build social capital.
“We know that people who volunteer in sport, for example, are more likely to feel they belong in their area and people who take part in sport are likely to enjoy stronger social links with other people,” reads the policy paper.
In response, Supporters Direct said clubs owned by and rooted in their community were an important and growing solution to help the government achieve this strategy.
The organisation also welcomes the government’s promise to set up a Social Investment Fund as well as its commitment to explore ways to make it easier for fans to invest in clubs and facilities.
In December 2015 Supporters Direct had launched a new report that recommends creating a new tax status for democratically owned clubs that meet strict criteria, including reinvesting surpluses and protecting assets for community use.
The report also suggests that supporter clubs benefited from Gift Aid donations, receive an 80% tax relief and have exemption from Corporation Tax. The organisation is keen to work with the government on implementing these proposals.