g) Club Longevity – The Fatally Flawed Assumption

Generally, when local sports clubs take the time to consider risk and risk minimisation the conversation will generally revolve around the health and safety of participants.

While club focus on the health and safety of its players, spectators, competition officials and volunteers is vital it should not be the extent of your club’s risk management strategy.

What is risk?

There are many definitions of risk but the definition we use is:

A situation involving exposure of someone or something to danger, harm or loss.”

Sustainability and longevity

Often when clubs are discussing strategic planning or risk management they make a fundamental assumption that their club will go on for ever but, as we know all too well, for ever is a fatally flawed assumption.

Ensuring the sustainability and longevity of the club should be considered one of the primary obligations of any club committee and for that matter player, participant, spectator, volunteer and member.

Essential components, in no particular order, required to ensure the long term viability and sustainability of sports clubs are:

  • Financial
  • Participants
  • Volunteers
  • Facilities

Financial viability

Financial viability revolves around your club’s ability to pay its financial obligations as and when they fall due.  Ideally each year a club’s operational cash flow should allow for their operational expenses of the year to be paid but also:

  • Save for the capital expenditure required to maintain and improve clubs assets
  • Save just a little for a “rainy day”

It is unfortunate and very risky, that so many clubs survive from year to year with little in reserve and almost no funds for the incoming committee.

Players and volunteers

From time to time, clubs (and their sports) may experience a reduction in the number of players and volunteers they have in any given season.  If this trend continues for an extended period it can very quickly bring the sustainability of a club into question.

A characteristic of strong, sustainable clubs is they are continually building pathways for new participants, members, sponsors and volunteers to join their club.  They don’t expect potential new participants to simply “knock” on their club door.  Sustainable clubs will use a variety of different methods to build relationships within their local community and continually invite new participants to their club.

Equally important as attracting new people to your club, is to create “a sense of belonging” within the club where the club continues to satisfy the competitive and social needs of its current members and participants, but also focuses on making those new to the club immediately feel welcome and embraced.


The facilities of clubs need to be constantly maintained to ensure they continue to meet the social and playing needs of club members.   It is amazing how fast even the newest of facilities require maintenance.

Often the clubs with facilities that are old and in need of repair, find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain members and players compared with newer clubs in the same community.  This doesn’t mean that clubs need to have the newest pavilions or latest playing facilities but it does require that the facilities the club does have are properly maintained and nicely presented.  It is amazing the difference a fresh coat of paint can make to your change rooms or social facilities.

Strong sustainable clubs are continually planning and saving for the future.  They are investing in their facilities and continually seeking new ways to meet the needs of their members and players.

Plan for sustainability and longevity

So, if your club hasn’t considered its longevity and sustainability recently, maybe it’s timely to add it as an agenda item at your next committee meeting.

Club sustainability and longevity should always be the first concept included and discussed in your clubs formal strategic planning and risk management processes.  It should also be the first criteria used to assess the performance of a committee.  Too often committee success is measured by premierships and competition results rather than how the committee has positioned the club for the future.

For more risk management information go to www.sportscommunity.com.au/club-admin.


Steve Pallas

Managing Director



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