One in four sports clubs on brink from pandemic

 

 

ONE in four sports clubs, which are often the lifeblood of Queensland communities, will be closed in six months without an urgent cash injection, the Australian Sports Foundation has revealed.

The shocking impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is laid bare in a new report out today showing Queensland clubs need a $285m bailout to survive.

The country's 70,000 community sports clubs need funding support to the tune of $1.2b.

The foundation collected information from 4127 organisations, including 580 from Queensland, covering all sports from football to netball and cricket.

Isabelle Shepherd-Ashby (front) with Sebastian Allen, Sascha Aldridge and Charlotte Brown from Western Districts Netball Association at Graceville. Picture: Richard Walker
Isabelle Shepherd-Ashby (front) with Sebastian Allen, Sascha Aldridge and Charlotte Brown from Western Districts Netball Association at Graceville. Picture: Richard Walker

Reduced revenues and increased costs, together with pressures on the affordability of sport for participants and projected declines in volunteers due to health concerns are all taking a toll.

"Responses and concerns raised by Queensland clubs tracked the national average for most answers.

"However, both small and large clubs reported higher than average concerns about member retention due to loss of interest or change in habits following the interruption of sport and an above-average number of both small and large clubs cited concerns about health and hygiene as a barrier to returning to sport," Australian Sports Foundation chief executive Patrick Walker said.

"Our task now is to help community sport survive COVID-19. Having highlighted the unfolding crisis, and now quantified the scale of the problem, we want to work with Australia's political, philanthropic and corporate leaders and everyone who cares about the role community sport plays in our way of life," he said.

The sports chief said that the loss of thousands of community clubs could lead to widespread social dislocation.

"They are made up of individuals who pay utility bills, shop at supermarkets and fill up at petrol stations," he said.

Queensland's Western Districts Netball Association senior vice president Paula Sale said the club's income for the year has dropped about 80 per cent with membership fees being cut "significantly" to allow the sport to thrive.

"As an association, we wanted to make it as affordable as possible for members so we have cut our membership fees pretty significantly so that had an impact," Ms Sale said.

"We had some court maintenance planned and we obviously won't be able to do that anymore. All our cash reserves are obviously being used, too."

Ms Sale said the $2000 government grant earlier this year allowed her to buy hand sanitiser.

 

CLUB CRISIS

16,000 face closure within six months

Queensland needs $285m help

$1.2bn needed in funding nationally

43 per cent predict losing volunteers

70 per cent say people scared of health risks

93 per cent have lost money

SOURCE: Australian Sports Foundation

 

 

Originally published as One in four sports clubs on brink from pandemic


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