January 19 - Results from the biggest survey of community sports clubs ever undertaken in the UK shows a worrying outlook in terms financial health, membership levels and facility access for the nation's 150,000 clubs.
The poll, which was conducted Sport and Recreation Alliance, questioned 2,000 sports clubs covering 40 different sports and revealed that the average club surplus has fallen by 45 per cent since 2008 to just over £1,000 ($1,543/ €1,212).
Other key results from the survey also showed that more than 28 per cent of sports clubs are running at a loss and a further 23 per cent only just breaking even.
The average 2010 annual club income has fallen by 15 per cent since 2008, while adult membership has dropped by 11 per cent in the same period.
The survey also showed that volunteer retention is an issue in 53 per cent of sports clubs and that 64 per cent of clubs are concerned about recruiting new members, with 61 per cent citing that generating sufficient income as a concern.
"With a home Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2012 will be a huge year for sport in the UK so it's going to be important that we make the most of it," said Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the umbrella organisation for the governing and representative bodies of sport and recreation in the UK.
"A number of good schemes to promote a legacy from the Games are now reaching a critical point.
"It's vital that local and central Government work closely with the sector to deliver the full potential of the Games to get people more active."
Whilst the outlook is depressing, the Sport and Recreation Alliance is persisting with its lobbying and campaigning to weather the nation's 150,000 clubs through the tough times.
"It seems that many clubs are witnessing a worrying vicious circle," added lamb.
"As membership levels fall, club incomes drop.
"Clubs then reduce their spending and investment in the club infrastructure is reduced.
"In turn, this can make the club offer less appealing.
"Ultimately, this will make it difficult to retain or attract members.
"The concern is that if economic conditions worsen we will lose many clubs that are a vital part of the fabric of our communities, and with them, their facilities, expertise and a generation of volunteers."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]