CFU supports new Supporters Direct report

City Fans United are supporting a Supporters Direct report which is calling for community owned clubs to receive tax breaks.

The football club has been working with Supporters Direct for over six months to help them launch their report into community owned sports clubs at Parliament yesterday.

The report argues that democratically owned sports clubs could bring a big net benefit if they were given tax breaks. The proposal recommends creating a new tax status for democratically owned clubs that meet strict criteria, including reinvesting surpluses and protecting assets for community use.

Clubs would benefit from Gift Aid on donations, receive 80% rate relief and have exemption from Corporation Tax. If this were to happen Chester FC would, on average, have a net benefit of £33,000 a season.

If adopted it would be a landmark in the development of democratic ownership of sport in this country and make a step change that will help community owned clubs overcome many of the barriers they face.

The report was launched at an MPs’ briefing in Westminster yesterday afternoon, which brought together MPs, leading sports bodies and sports clubs and started with an address from Jesse Norman MP, the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select.

James Mathie from Supporters Direct said: “With the right model, sports clubs can be central hubs of delivering benefits in their community – and community ownership provides added value that other forms of ownership cannot. We believe it’s time to help clubs that embrace democratic ownership, binding community benefit functions, and protect sports assets.”

Neil Bellis, CFU director who has been working with Supporters Direct on the report and went to London for the launch, said: “Supporters Direct have shown that if clubs like ours were to receive these tax breaks there would be a significant public benefit.

“The proposed tax changes would be cost effective for the treasury as it would enable community owned clubs to be more sustainable and, in turn, increase the investment into their communities.

“Chester FC are fully behind these proposals and I’ve been delighted with the positive reaction the proposals have received when speaking to MPs in our area about them.

“It is also important to remember that these proposals do not just apply for football but could have benefits in other sports as well.”

The proposal will also be addressed by the Governments Expert Working Group on Football Ownership and Engagement which will be published in January 2016.