Wisborough Green Sports Clubs Association

Wisborough Green Sports Clubs Association

I was recently elected Chairman of the Sports Association (SA) following Ian Elliott’s decision to stand down after 6 year’s dedicated service. Ian has been a great asset to the SA, in particularly, bringing the clubs together into an effective management committee, doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes in keeping the Pavilion running on a sound financial footing, beginning and overseeing the process for our new building and taking the club towards a new structure with charitable status. At our AGM he was made an honorary life member and presented with a specially commissioned painting of the Pavilion by Wisborough’s very own Katie Wells – thank you Katie!

I’d like to set out in this note some details about the Sports Association and what it does and plans to do over the next few years. For those who don’t know me, I’ve lived in the village for the last 16 years, have the last of three girls still at the school (phew!), with others I started the Touch Rugby Club and the Annual RunWisborough, and have been the SA’s secretary for the last 6 years. Thank you in advance for reading what is quite a long statement.

What is the Sports Association?

The SA comprises 4 clubs; Cricket, Football, Stoolball and Touch Rugby. We also have a number of non-playing members. Its primary objective is “…the provision and promotion of facilities for sport, recreation and social activities for the inhabitants of Wisborough Green”. It built the current Pavilion and leases the land on which it stands from the Parish Council who own the Green. Each club provides two members of the management committee. In addition to these the club has three permanent officers; Chair, Secretary (Clare Steere) and Treasurer (Hayley Ball). We also have a co-opted Members Secretary (Ian Andrews).

The Parish Council has overall responsibility for the Green and for ensuring its use is properly and fairly managed. They coordinate this through the Green Coordination Committee which meets twice a year and draws its membership from across the community. While the Parish Council covers generic maintenance costs of the Green, sports specific items such as preparation of the cricket square and end of season football pitch repairs are paid for by the sports clubs and the Sports Association.

The SA derives income from two primary sources; member fees and bar income. In addition, things such as fundraising events, RunWisborough and the August bank holiday BBQ provide additional funds which we put away to fund future facilities. Some time ago we received a very generous bequest from Pat Creighton Smith which is reserved for facility improvements and is, as yet, untouched. We estimate that “footfall” through the doors of the Pavilion is in excess of 25,000 per year making it the most visited community facility in the village. We also put in place Temporary Event Notices for community events such as the School and Village Fetes; these allow the facility to be used by non-members.

Membership fees make a vital contribution to keeping the club running, but when you consider they account for about £2,500 annually and insurance to cover facilities and players is £3,000 you can see how important it is to keep supporting the bar, profit from which covers everything else.

Over the last six months you will have seen a significant improvement to the downstairs and upstairs facilities. We had hoped to hold off and save the money for the new Pavilion, but that has been delayed and we really couldn’t wait any longer. The SA paid for the renovations downstairs and we are extremely grateful to Nick Payne and the Cricket Club for providing most of the energy and funds to renovate upstairs.

Where does it go from here?

New Pavilion. You have all heard about our plans for the new Pavilion which is essential to ensure the viability of clubs going forward. It will provide facilities that; meet the extensive requirements of the sport governing bodies, are accessible, increase the diversity in what sports we can offer, and provide a sustainable building with flexible function space and a more attractive family oriented environment. Sadly despite gaining support from members, the parish, the district council, Sport England, the FA and the ECB our plans have hit a stumbling block with the Parish Council which had previously supported them. We hope to take this forward with the PC in the near future once appropriate terms of reference can be agreed – we don’t want to spend another 5 years of effort so it is important they provide a clear statement about what is acceptable to them.

Playing Facilities. There is always huge pressure for space on the Green; at times towards the end of summer we have senior cricket practice, touch rugby and pre-season football all competing for space on a Tuesday night. Equally, the loss of Collards Field has made scheduling colts cricket matches and finding space for everyone on a Friday night very difficult. The good news is we have a new field that we will be ready to use from next season for the next 5 years and potentially indefinitely. It is located 3 minutes’ walk from the Pavilion along Kirdford Road on the right just past Park Lodge. We are currently working up a planning application with the help and support of the Parish Council so that it can be used for sport legitimately, but in the very near future we will start work to prepare it for next season. Primarily, it will be used for colts cricket and junior football (yes we hope through the football club to bring junior football home (sorry couldn’t resist it). It will also be there for pre-season football, touch, stoolball and anything else, thus, significantly reducing pressure on the Green. The up and coming Race Night on the 24th August will be raising money specifically for this facility so please get in touch with Steve Calder Smith (steve@caldersmith.net) if you’d like to support and attend what will be a fantastic evening with a very important objective.

New Structure. The current structure of the Sports Association is not really fit for purpose. It does not have charitable status which means we don’t have access to the benefits that that brings (for instance this would add about 40% to the profit generated by RunWisborough). It is not an acceptable structure to bring funding in from sport governing bodies whose funds we will need for the new Pavilion. We have the Parish Council’s support to move to a new charitable structure called a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and work has been going on over the last year to bring this about. At this point in time the shell has been formed and we are waiting for approval of its charitable status and clarification of accounting rules. Once that is done we will require all members of the existing Sports Association to vote on the change and we will then begin the migration, hopefully, in time for the end of the SA’s financially year. The CIO will have a number of trustees that will oversee it’s charitable activities if you are interested in learning about becoming a trustee please get in touch.

In conclusion, I hope this sheds some light on the Sports Association and what our plans are to support sport over the next few years. Like any club, we rely on the support of members and that is likely to be even more the case over the next few years with the programme we have in hand to ensure we do provide the facilities the individual clubs need to be successful. If you have any questions please feel free to get on touch either through your club or directly.

Michael Gadd
Chairman, Wisborough Green Sports Clubs Association