City Fans United has welcomed a new Government Expert Working Group report which supports Supporters Direct’s proposals for tax breaks for supporter owned clubs.The report, which was released by the Government Expert Working Group on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement today, supports SD’s proposals for incentivising community ownership in sports clubs (COSCs) and says they should be accepted by HMRC as a “legitimate operating model for supporter owned football clubs”.
CFU has been working with SD and other partners for around nine months on the proposals and CFU vice-chairman, Neil Bellis, recently went to the House of Commons to help SD launch their report about COSCs and lobby MPs.
He said: “It is fantastic that the working group have recommended that Supporters Direct’s proposals be accepted and that they have recognised the value which supporter ownership brings to football and local communities.
“We would now urge HMRC to implement the proposals as soon as possible to remove financial barriers other clubs may have when considering supporter ownership and also to support clubs who currently operate in our model.”
The COSC proposals recommend that community owned clubs receive an exemption from corporation tax, an 80% rates relief and the ability to claim Gift Aid on donations. If the proposals were to go ahead Chester FC would benefit, on average, by £33,000 a season.
The CFU also welcomed the proposal to review the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) to ensure it would benefit community owned clubs. This could, in the future, ensure that people investing into the club for major projects receive an income tax relief.
The report also looked at other obstacles for fan ownership and engagement within football.
The current insolvency process in football was looked at and it was recommended that fans groups should be given opportunities to bid in an insolvency process, and additional funding set aside to help supporters’ trusts to prepare an ownership bid, where they have the consent of the owner.
The report also recommended that football clubs who are not owned by the community should have at least two meetings a year with supporters representatives which SD called “a step forward”.
NOTE – The eagle eyed amongst you may notice on page 18 that we are referred to as Chester City. CFU have already been in contact with the working group to try and rectify the mistake.