Setting up a new club
If you are considering setting up a club, such as a sports club, there are 3 important issues that need to be considered:
- Are there enough potential members?
- Are there enough volunteers to run the club?
- Is there another club in the area that is already meeting the need for such a club?
If there is a national governing body (NGB) for the sport or activity you should contact it for advice.
Once there is a general agreement to set up a club there will be a number of things that will need to be decided and agreed on.
One of the first things that will have to be decided on is what is the best legal structure to use for the club. The most common and simplest structure for a club is an unincorporated association and is the one this document assumes is being used.
It involves drawing up a set of rules, known as its constitution, to regulate the relationship between the members of the club and it usually provides for a committee to run the club's affairs. However, under this structure the club has no separate legal personality and the members are personally liable for the actions or debts of the club. If the club wishes to employ staff or lease property, it may find that an unincorporated association is too limited a structure for this.
Sport Ireland provides information on the various types of legal structures there are, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type, in the NGB Support Kit on its website.
A club name is necessary in order to draw up formal documents and to open a bank account. The name can be anything you decide but you should check to make sure that no other local club has the same name.
The club constitution is a written document that states the rules and structures that govern the club. It outlines the functions of the club and the procedures for membership, meetings and committees. A club constitution is usually required for funding and if applying for tax relief.
If there is a national governing body, it may be able to provide you with a model constitution which you could adapt. Sports clubs often have copies of their constitutions on their websites. You can find guidance on constitutions on the Charities Regulator website.
A club needs a number of officials to run the club. The minimum requirement is:
These are elected posts and the holders are members of the club committee. There can be other members on the committee as laid out in the club’s constitution such as:
- Child Protection Officer*
- Fundraising Officer
A club can have other roles outside of formal club positions that people in the club may volunteer to carry out.
* Under the child protection guidelines operated by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, it is good practice for all organisations that have contact with children and young people to introduce a child protection policy.
Annual general meeting
An annual general meeting (AGM) is held each year as laid down in the club constitution so that all members can have an input into the running of the club. It is at the AGM that the club committee is elected.
The club committee is the group of members who are formally responsible for managing the club. Establishing a committee with clearly identified roles can help to identify who does what in the club and can help to spread the workload. The committee should meet several times a year at a minimum. Information on a code of practice for good governance of community, voluntary and charitable organisations is available at governancecode.ie.
Funds to run the club will have to be raised. Initially these funds are likely to come from membership subscriptions. It is also advisable to produce a list of costs to run the club throughout the year. This will help in creating a budget of income and expenditure for the next 12 months.
A bank account in the name of the club will be required. The bank will usually ask for two signatories for the withdrawal of cash or signing of cheques.
The Treasurer must maintain either:
- A bound account book for recording details of the financial affairs of the club or
- A computer programme from which printouts can be made in the format of an account book. Appropriate back-up arrangements should be made to avoid irretrievable loss of data
All monies and cheques received should be paid into the club bank account, recorded in the account book and, for cash received, a receipt issued. The accounts may have to be audited each year.
There is a scheme of tax relief on income for certain eligible charities and other approved bodies, including sporting bodies. Information on tax relief for sporting bodies (Leaflet GS 1) (pdf) and for charities (Leaflet CHY 1) (pdf) is available on Revenue’s website.
As an unincorporated association, the club members are personally liable for the actions or debts of the club. Therefore, the club should obtain adequate insurance to cover its members. It should have suitable public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance for its activities. Advice on insurance may be available from the national governing body, if there is one.
The Wheel is a support and representative body for community and voluntary organisations and charities. It provides information on forming a charity as well as a forming a charity fact sheet (pdf) on its website.
The Charities Regulatory Authority(CRA) is the national statutory regulatory agency for charitable organisations. Any organisation wishing to operate as a charity must apply to the CRA to be registered. There is more information on the CRA's website.
Local Development Companies (LDCs) are known by many different names including Local Area Partnerships and LEADER Partnerships. Among other things they provide supports for community groups.