Supporters Direct: Welsh Assembly Election Manifesto

Supporters Direct has helped build sports clubs based on community ownership and involvement across the UK for more than 15 years. Some of our greatest successes have been in Wales.

SD has written a manifesto for the National Assembly election (see below.) The Trust fully endorses this agenda and is writing to candidates asking them to support the manifesto which aims to ensure fans play a formal part in the way their clubs are run.

We will be publishing their responses on our website but please feel free to send it yourself to your Assembly candidates.

Tim Hartley

Trust Chair

MANIFESTO

SD has helped to build sports clubs based on community ownership and involvement for 15 years across the UK. Some of the greatest examples have been in Wales. The Swans Trust was instrumental in the rebirth and rise of Swansea City, and Wrexham AFC and Merthyr Town are shining examples of how clubs can secure their future and reconnect through community ownership.

A new wave of supporters is now being inspired to walk this path – at Newport County, Ton Pentre AFC and Rhyl FC. We believe that the Welsh Government should play its part to help build a model of ownership of sport that encourages inclusion and participation. Together we can realise the real benefits of social and community development and physical well-being that sports clubs can bring.

We challenge the major parties to adopt our agenda for the benefit of Welsh sport and society.

Structured dialogue

Supporter involvement within sport is critical. SD wants professional clubs to engage with supporters through regular meetings between Supporters Trusts and senior club officials. Supporters contribute time, emotional effort and a lot of money to their clubs. Clubs can make better decisions through proper consultation with their community and should embrace their views to grow stronger as one.

Funding for communities to own their sports clubs

You need to invest in club development to get strong clubs that can deliver social good, and have the platform to achieve sports participation targets. We need to establish a bespoke SD Cymru with a dedicated employee in Wales to co-ordinate the work of all the stakeholders interested in the social benefits of sport. The next Welsh Government should help fund this work so that we can increase the number of clubs converting to community ownership and build the social benefit that will follow.

A chance to protect and develop important sports facilities

The Welsh Government has the opportunity to implement the powers of the Localism Act with a stronger and more effective set of community rights. A right of first refusal at a fair price for registered community groups to bid for a listed sports facility, protection from debt arrangements and greater collaboration and support for communities to prepare a bid is essential.

Incentivising community ownership in sport

Our recent research found that the annual average benefit per community owned club of volunteering is £126,630. The annual average benefit through capital investment is £168,383.To recognise this value and incentivise more clubs to choose this route we have proposed that a new tax status should be created for democratically owned sports clubs that meet strict criteria, including reinvesting surpluses and protecting assets for community use. Clubs would benefit from Gift Aid on donations, receive a minimum of 80% rate relief and are exempt from Corporation Tax.

We challenge all parties to join the growing support for these proposals and help build SD Cymru for the benefit of Welsh Sport.