Managing your club during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

We advise you to connect with your governing body for any specific guidance they are offering their member clubs.

Managing your finances

As this is a rapidly changing situation, it is important to look into the full detail of each of the options below that you think might be relevant to your organisation. You should not make changes to your budget until you have checked you that your organisation is eligible and able to obtain the support outlined.

We understand that most commercial insurance policies held by sports organisations are unlikely to cover pandemics such as Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, every insurance policy is different and we would encourage you to check your organisation’s insurance policy and if in doubt speak to the insurance provider.

Running costs

We recommend that the first step you take is to look at all your expected outgoings over the next few months and consider how these can be managed and reduced. There is support available to managing and reducing your running costs.

If your organisation employs paid staff consider:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: UK Government have committed to reimbursing a percentage of wages of employees (on PAYE) of businesses and charities whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19. To be eligible, employees need to have been formally asked in writing to stop working and placed on a leave of absence (‘furloughed’). The last date for furloughing new staff was 10 June. The scheme is changing from 1 July. Any employer that has furloughed staff should ensure they understand the changes and the impacts on their business.
  • Job Retention Bonus scheme: UK Government have announced that employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each employee who has been furloughed as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme who is still employed by the organisation as of 31 January 2021. Full details of the scheme have not yet been announced but sports clubs and community organisations may want to consider this as you undertake financial planning.
  • Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme: This scheme will repay employers with fewer than 250 staff up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay for any member of staff who had to self-isolate because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: UK Government have put in place a scheme to support self-employed people who have lost income due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). If your organisation contracts sports coaches or others who are self-employed you should advise them to read the guidance as they will have to apply themselves. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected you must make your claim for the first grant on or before 13 July 2020. If you're business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020 and you are eligible for the second and final grant, you'll be able to make a claim in August 2020. You can claim for the second grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.

If your organisation has a facility consider:

  • Eat Out to Help Out scheme: If your facility has a restaurant or café consider registering for this scheme. announced the Eat Out to Help Out scheme that will provide the public with a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in (up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August. The business can then re-claim the full value of the discount from the government. The scheme explicitly covers restaurants and cafes within leisure facilities that offer food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • Non-Domestic Rates Relief: Scottish Government have confirmed that all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will not need to pay non-domestic rates in 2020-21. This should allow the vast majority of sports clubs with facilities to budget for a £0 non-domestic rates bill for 2020-21. 
  • Water Bills: If your club is are struggling to pay your water bills, speak to your provider. Scottish Government have announced support to water companies. The detail of how this support will benefit customers is currently being developed. It appears likely that this will allow clubs to defer payment rather than reducing your bills. 
  • Other utilities: Support for other utilities has not been announced, but if your club is struggling to pay its bills, speak to your utility providers who may be able to provide payment options.
  • Rental and other utilities: If your club is struggling to pay rent or other utility bills, speak to your landlord and utility providers who may be able to provide payment options.

Managing other costs:

  • All outgoings: It is important to review all your organisations outgoings. Identify any areas where you can reduce or stop these payments.
  • Insurance: We understand that most commercial insurance policies held by sports organisations are unlikely to cover pandemics such as Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, every insurance policy is different and we would encourage you to check your organisation's insurance policy and if in doubt speak to the insurance provider. More details
  • Deferring VAT payments: If your organisation charges customers Valued Added Tax (VAT) on goods or services, VAT payments to HMRC from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 can be deferred until end of tax year 2020-21. It is important to understand that this is a deferment and your organisation will still have to make these payments at a later date. 
  • HMRC Time to Pay service: If your organisation is in financial distress and owes tax to HMRC, they may be able to offer payment options. Your organisation should contact HMRC. 

Funding

Having reduced costs where possible, we understand some organisations may then need to look at options to bring in emergency funds. There are grant and loan options that your organisation may be eligible for,

If you hold an existing grant with:

  • sportscotland: We understand that organisation currently in receipt of funding from sportscotland may not be able to fulfill the requirements of ther funding due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). If your organisation is concerned about fulfilling the requirements of our funding, please speak to your main contact at sportscotland
  • Other funders: Many funders are offering flexibility to existing grant holders. If your organisation holds a grant from another organisation, get in touch with the grant maker.

Consider your approach to membership income:

Organisations should be thinking about how they ensure ongoing membership income during the pandemic. You will see lots of examples of this on social media but it is worthwhile considering applying one or both of these models, frequently used in the social enterprise sector in Scotland:

  • The ‘Robin Hood’ approach: Give members the option to continue paying any monthly subscription fees. That way, those that can continue paying subs will enable your organisation to offer reduced fees to those that can't manage to continue paying. Current examples see some organisations reducing subs to a token amount, e.g. £10 per month or pay one more full months subs before stopping payments. This approach could significantly contribute to keeping your organisation afloat. 
  • The ‘Pay it Forward’ approach: There are examples of this approach in cafes but you could offer the chance for members to pay next season's subs of someone who needs support. The pandemic will affect everyone in different ways. Consider waiting until you know your organisation is going to reopen before offering this.

If your organisation needs an emergency grant:

  • Third Sector Resilience Fund: This Scottish Government emergency fund is to support third sector organisations that find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The sport and physical activity sector is explicitly covered by the Fund. A variety of sport clubs and community organisations facing financial difficulties have been successful in applying to the Fund. The fund will make awards up to £75,000 to help organisations stabilise and manage cashflow. The fund can also offer 0% interest loans starting at £50,000. If your organisation is thinking of applying, it is important that you have talked to your existing funders and explored the other government support available. The fund is open for applications.

  • SCVO – Independent Funders: SCVO have a searchable database of Coronavirus specific funds from independent funders.

If your organisation needs an emergency loan:

  • Before taking on a loan, you should carefully consider your organisations ability to repay the loan in the future.
  • Third Sector Resillience Fund: This Scottish Government emergency fund is to support third sector organisations at risk of closure due to a sharp decrease in income or that are unable to deliver services as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The fund can offer 0% loans starting at £50,000, to help organisations stabalise and manager cashflow. The fund can also make grant awards up to £75,000 to help organisations stabilise and manage cashflow. The fund is open for applications. 
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): UK Government have launched this scheme to provide loans of up to £5m for businesses experiencing lost or deferred revenue due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), leading to disruptions to their cashflows. UK Government will pay interest and fees on the loan for the first 12 months. The scheme is being administered by a number of lenders.
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS): The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. The scheme is being administered by a number of lenders.
  • Do you have a member that would be willing to offer an interest free loan to the club? You may know a member that has supported the club in the past and may be willing to do so again. We suggest that you only approach individuals that you already have a relationship with.

Managing your facility

  • Guidance note for sports facility owners and operators: This guidance note sets out a range of recommended actions owners and operators of sports facilities follow to make their sports facility safe and to minimise the work to get it fit for sport when Scottish Government guidance confirms it is safe to do so.

Advice and Further Information

There are many sources of support available to help your organisation. We suggest you consider looking at:

  • Harper Macleod guidance for clubs: Harper Macleod have created a hub containing useful information and guidance for sports clubs in Scotland.
  • Scottish Governing Bodies: If your organisation is affiliated to a governing body, check their website or contact them to discuss specific guidance and advice they are offering their member clubs.
  • Coronavirus Third Sector Information Hub: The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has a wealth of information on their website for those running third sector organisations at this time. The Hub is available at: 
  • Scottish Government Business Support: Details of all the support Scottish Government are making available to businesses to support through COVID-19.
  • Business Gateway: Offer local support with a wide range of business matters during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. They can help with business contingency planning, digital marketing, managing cashflow, dealing with suppliers and a lot more. Plus they will be delivering virtual services in the way of webinars and online 1:1 adviser sessions.
Date published: 30 March 2020
Date updated: 13 July 2020

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