Transfer of sport facilities – asset or liability?

We find ourselves in a recession which will continue to have an impact on local authority budgets for some time to come.  The upshot for sport and leisure is the move to transfer assets including pitches, pavilions, sports centres etc. to sports clubs and community groups.

While I’m the first to encourage clubs and communities to take control of their own destiny, I have some real reservations about the impending wave of “asset transfer” opportunities – and I suspect I’m not alone!

Firstly, I think we need to be mindful that not everything is an asset.  Some of the facilities are in a poor state of disrepair and others will be a burden to maintain in future years.

Secondly, I suspect not every club would thrive - as taking on and operating a facility can be a huge burden for an otherwise passionate and effective committee or board.  For some, the added responsibility may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  My ultimate fear is that sport loses good people!

Lastly, and I feel like a broken record saying this, but getting the keys is just the first step! Although most asset transfers will have taken months and often years to achieve, the hard work actually starts on day one.  These facilities need to be run like a small business - with bills to pay - and these organisations, who are often volunteer driven, need an altogether different set of skills. 

I am a dreamer and would love to see some of the fantastic community hubs and clubs across Scotland take on their own facilities.  Rather than rain on their parade let’s connect people who are considering this type of move into the support available and with those of their peers already a few years into the journey. 

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