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Grassroots clubs under threat from growing cost-of-living crisis

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Posted 19th December 2022

Sport and Recreation Alliance has released new evidence, showing that community sport and recreation clubs are under severe financial pressure. The findings show they are struggling to cope with the dual impact of steeply rising energy costs and the recovery from COVID-19.

The Cost of Living Crisis: The impact on grassroots community sport and recreation, is published in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre and Sport:80. It outlines the challenging situation facing clubs across the country this winter.

With energy bills expected to almost double in the coming year, and clubs’ reserves already depleted from COVID-19, these additional costs are likely to be passed on to participants at a time when they can least afford it.

The findings paint a worrying picture for our sector, the participants it supports and the economic and social value it delivers to local communities. The research shows:

  • A growing proportion of clubs are in severe financial difficulty, operating with low reserves following COVID-19 – this is currently the case for a quarter of clubs and is expected to rise to a third in the coming year.
  • Rising energy costs are putting the future of our sector at huge risk – bills are expected to almost double in the next 12 months, with much greater increases expected for a number of clubs.
  • Participation opportunities have fallen much more than anticipated, with a 16% drop compared with 2019 – the worsening financial climate is affecting clubs’ ability to provide sport and recreation in their communities.
  • Access to facilities and public spaces is the main concern for over three quarters of clubs – with closures and service restrictions already happening across the country, this is an urgent priority for clubs who depend on them to provide activity.
  • Critically, higher costs will be transferred on to participants– 70% of clubs say they plan to charge members more in fees which will likely impact those on lower incomes and exacerbate existing inequalities in participation.

You can read the research summary. The Cost of Living Crisis: The impact on grassroots community sport and recreation’ here.

You can read the full research report ‘COVID-19 recovery and the cost of living: A survey of grassroots clubs and groups’ here.

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