Your club structure
When it comes to club structures, there are a few different choices.
You’ll need to work out which is in the best interests of your club so, in this section, we’ll explain the options - without all the legal jargon. It’s important you work out the pros and cons so we’ve provided plenty of links to more information!
Unincorporated or incorporated?
Every club is either unicorporated and incorporated.
An unincorporated organisation is established through an agreement between a group of people who come together for a reason other than to make a profit.
Many sports clubs go down this route - quick and easy to set up and also cost effective as there are no requirements to register with companies house. It is usually very suitable for small, simple clubs that tend not to employ staff, own land or facilities or enter into significant contracts.
However, an unincorporated club does not exist in law and therefore cannot sign contracts. If you want to enter into contracts, then you need to consider becoming incorporated.
An incorporated organisation is a legal entity in its own right. It can enter into contracts, employ staff and lease property. Incorporated status means the personal liability of members is limited and protected. Governance structures are more formalised within a legal framework.
Once you’ve made this decision, you can then consider whether you want to go a step further and become a CASC, a charity or social enterprise.
CASCs are open to the whole community, are non-profit making and their main purpose is to encourage more people to play sports.
Clubs benefit from business rates exemption and Gift Aid relief but must be organised on an amateur basis to qualify.
Once the club is registered as a CASC, it will always remain a CASC – or they face a significant tax penalty. So take time to decide. ACASC is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that helps and advises clubs on running (or becoming) a Community Amateur Sports Club
Charities have very generous tax benefits and are recognised by funders. Your club must be non-profit making and, of course, have a charitable purpose (which includes the advancement of amateur sport).
But becoming a charity also brings with it extra requirements and restrictions. For example, you need to prepare annual accounts and returns.
A social enterprise is a business whose objectives are primarily social and whose profits are reinvested back into its services or the community. Social enterprises come in many shapes and sizes, from small community-owned village shops to large organisations delivering public services.
Can clubs change their legal status?
Yes, but you should seek guidance from your County Voluntary Council before you do. If you’re a CASC and you want to change, it could mean a hefty tax penalty.