Sports clubs are at risk of collapsing en masse

Dutch sports club managers fear for the future of their club. This is evidenced by research to be announced today, with almost a quarter of those surveyed believing their club would not survive. According to the Register of Directors of Associations (RVVB), half of the 22,600 amateur federations will be in serious trouble within five years.

what is going on? The club’s funds are being emptied on a grand scale, there is an acute shortage of volunteers and an increasing bureaucracy hampering management. For an in-depth study on proving the future of sports associations, the RVVB spoke with about 250 officials.

To make the results as representative as possible, a panel discussion was held in all the provinces where different sports were always represented. In addition, a digital survey was distributed to all clubs, which was completed with over 850 plates.

structural overload

Of these 1,100 directors, more than half suffer from structural overload in their work for the club. They are mainly busy with everyday worries and making sharp holes in the budget, often to the detriment of financial reserves. There is no time to make necessary long-term investments. For example, despite rising energy costs, 30 percent say they will make their homes more sustainable in just five years, while 22 percent never plan to do so. Thinking of inventing a sports show? No time, while it is important to stop the decline in membership numbers, especially among young people.

More than half of the board members surveyed believe they can absorb the increased costs for up to two more years. Reserves have already shrunk due to lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to researcher Daniel Clegen, who has been a consultant to the associations for fifteen years, these directors do not realize, or do not realize sufficiently, that the association is technically bankrupt.

wake up call

The RVVB hopes the findings will serve as a wake-up call for local authorities and the national government. Better support is needed to maintain the federation structure, which is typical of the Dutch sports scene, and to bring back the joy of the volunteers in their work. Of those surveyed, 69 percent said they had problems hiring new managers.

In recent years, the government has placed more and more tasks and responsibilities on associations, such as a safe sports environment and social commitment. The main reason for the overload is the complexity of subsidy applications and legislation, with the amount of paperwork associated with it. The RVVB believes that voluntary organizations such as sports federations should be excluded.

Complicated rules or a nice sporting atmosphere?

Next Wednesday there will be a sports debate in the House of Representatives. Member of Parliament Mohamed Al-Mohandes, who calls sports clubs the name of the society, would like to discuss the results with the minister.

Klein thinks the Netherlands should ask itself what precious hours volunteers should spend. “Do we want administrators to deal with all sorts of complex support applications and rules, or would we prefer an association where they have time to work in a safe and fun sporting atmosphere?”

Read also:

For volunteer Raymond Gilliesen, the athletic board is an extra job

Research by the Association Directors Register shows that half of sports association managers are overburdened structurally. What problems do they encounter in practice?

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Amber Webster

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