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Community sporting clubs facing financial ruin as revenue streams hit by Coronavirus impact

Community sporting clubs facing financial ruin as revenue streams hit by Coronavirus impact
June 13, 2020

While Coronavirus restrictions around Australia are being eased, with community sport following elite sport in being able to restart, local sporting clubs and competitions - impacted by evaporating sponsorship money and falling membership numbers - may soon not be in a financial state to continue.

A new study by the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF), provided to the ABC, suggests that one in five community sports clubs could disappear within three months if current COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.

The ASF, which surveyed data from 2,700 clubs, found that community sports clubs could face up to $1.5 billion in losses this year.

The survey shows that community sporting clubs around Australia have suffered an enormous financial toll from the Coronavirus pandemic, with local sponsorship and membership income plummeting since March, when most restrictions were first introduced.

Costs like the rental of facilities, wages for match officials and coaches, as well as insurance and grounds maintenance have continued despite a postponed 2020 season.

With many clubs eating into their savings, it's estimated that if the shutdown continues, roughly 24,000 clubs will not survive the year.

The ASF calculated that community sport will require between $500 million and $1 billion to recover from the financial fallout from COVID-19.

As reported by the ABC, AJAX Football Club President, Ronnie Lewis, estimates the inner Melbourne club has missed out on roughly $50,000 in sponsorship from local businesses so far this year, a figure that will only grow each week they do not play.

Lewis advised “we're just looking at ways of getting through the season, whether we play or not.

As restrictions begin to gradually ease, many clubs are cautiously returning to training even if they don't yet know their league’s fate - hoping to be ready in the event their 2020 season does go ahead.

AJAX men's captain Nick Lewis added “for people's mental health, I think the footy is vital, and we can't wait to get out there.

"It's been extremely frustrating. Obviously, we understand that there are health issues and risks associated with coming out and not abiding to the law. But the element of the unknown has been really hard."

In NSW, state sporting organisation Football NSW, while announcing restart days for competitions run by its member associations, has yet to reveal when its NPL (National Premier League) NSW will recommence.

Reports suggest that state league clubs in NSW are reluctant to restart the competition as they fear being unable to meet operating costs and player wages.

By contrast, in Western Australia, Football West is backing clubs and players with $500,000 in financial relief that includes 25% reductions in match official fees for clubs and competition team entry fees, a 50% subsidy for personal injury insurance cost, a 25% reduction in registration fees for referees and the establishment of a financial hardship fund, which will cover all aspects of the game including courses, programs and club development.

Explaining that while see a reduction in income, clubs are also having to face increased costs to maintain hygiene standards, ASF Chief Executive Patrick Walker, told the ABC “it's really a double whammy for clubs. It's really pushing clubs close to the wall.”

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