Clubs and Associations

We provide specialist advice and support for all types of community amateur sports clubs, including on key issues such as legal structure, governance and membership, and both CASC and charity status.

As a firm with a dedicated and specialist team of Charities and Not for Profit lawyers, we recognise that community amateur sports clubs need advisers who understand their structure, purpose and aims. Critically, it is essential that your advisers recognise the important role that your members play in the governance of your club.

In addition to providing advice on any day-to-day operational, governance or membership queries, we offer specialist services that you will not find at every firm.

Incorporating clubs

Many community amateur sports clubs are structured as unincorporated associations with a management committee. However, all community amateur sports clubs also own (or have use of) land and offer services to their members, with many clubs also having at least one or two employees. As such, the unincorporated structure creates risk for those involved in the management of the club.

Although insurance and good risk management helps to reduce risk, it is not possible to eliminate all contractual and third party risk. Concern about risk and liability can mean that the management committee feel more inclined to take a conservative view on decision making that might not be best for the club, and in some cases might be reluctant to embark on any significant capital projects (such a building a new clubhouse). In addition, if people are concerned about their personal liability when they are invited to join the management committee, unincorporated status can be an impediment to effective recruitment.

As a result of these issues, it is very common for the management committees of unincorporated clubs to seek advice from us on changing the legal structure of their club (typically) to that of a company or (if already a charity or considering applying for charitable status) a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

The process for this involves setting up a new body corporate (usually a company) and then transferring all of the assets, operations, staff, properties, contracts and liabilities of the club to it. Depending on the size and nature of the club, this can be a lengthy and complex process and most clubs require legal support.

Our incorporation services are tailored to suit your specific requirements. As such, if you are interested in our services we will send you a brief scoping questionnaire to complete and return. This allows us to consider your needs and provide you with a bespoke proposal and fee estimate, setting out clearly what is included for the fee quoted.

Typically, clients require the following advice:

  • Setting up the new body corporate (usually a company), including drafting bespoke governing documents and dealing with registration of the new entity
  • Advising on the process and any key consents required, including approval from the club’s membership and other key stakeholders and third parties
  • Liaising with your existing tax advisers on the structure to ensure there are no adverse tax consequences arising from the transaction (our corporate tax team can provide advice if you have no incumbent tax advisers)
  • Identifying and advising on the legal requirements for the transfer of all assets, staff, properties, contracts and operations of the club to the new body corporate
  • Drafting an asset transfer agreement and all ancillary documentation required to effect the transfer, which can include various deeds, notices, and other transfer forms depending on the assets involved
  • Preparing outline draft minutes for the meetings of both the club and new body corporate to approve the transaction, and on the requirements to call a meeting of the members and drafting the necessary notices and resolutions to be passed
  • Dealing with all necessary post-completion filings, including with Companies House, HMRC and HM Land Registry.

CASC or charity status

If your club is not currently registered as a CASC with HMRC or as a charity with the Charity Commission, you might be considering applying for one or the other, given the advantageous tax position this affords.

For many clubs, it is necessary to restructure and, at the very least, make amendments to the club’s governing documents in order to apply for CASC or charity status. The eligibility rules are complex, and for clubs whose income is significant supplemented by non-playing member purchases (in the clubhouse or bar) it is often necessary to set up a trading subsidiary in order to satisfy the requirements.

Our Charities Team can advise you comprehensively on both CASC and charity status, the eligibility rules of both, the advantages and disadvantages of each, how all of this applies to your club and provide recommendations to assist you to reach a decision as to whether or not to proceed. We are accustomed to working closely with external tax advisers, or we can involve our own corporate tax team.

In some cases, clubs choose to incorporate and restructure to apply for CASC or charity status at the same time, and we have the expertise and experience to guide you through all necessary legal steps smoothly.

Contact Us
Contact Us
For general enquiries please call +44 (0)808 169 4320 or send a message from our Contact us page.