On 16th March 2020, Scottish Rowing advised the suspension of all club activity. Since then, the restrictions introduced by the UK and Scottish Governments in response to COVID-19 have had a huge impact on rowing and rowing clubs.
This page brings together advice, guidance and opportunities for support to help club committees who are working to manage rowing clubs during this difficult time.
While day-to-day operations are suspended, we advise that club committees continue to meet, albeit remotely, to identify and manage any risks or challenges faced by the club and prepare for the coming weeks and months.
There may be factors that are specific to your club depending on its circumstances or facilities but many of the challenges faced by rowing clubs at this time will be similar. We have identified some of the key challenges below, along with some of the advice and support that is available to help you.
You may wish to consider the following:
• When your membership subscriptions fall due and whether this presents an immediate risk to your financial sustainability.
• How and what you communicate to your members to keep them informed and up to date
• How you keep your members engaged and active while the club is closed. If you are running coached training sessions or other activities for your members online, please see our guidance on safe practice online.
If you have any events such as competitions, socials, fundraisers, outreach programmes planned over the coming weeks and months, you might want to consider if they should be cancelled or postponed and at what point it is appropriate to do so. Consider talking to any suppliers about their cancellation and refund policies and review your own refund policy to ensure you understand and can manage the financial risks.
Many rowing clubs own or rent facilities and there are several things to keep in mind if you do operate a boathouse or boat storage facility including:
• Ensure that the facility is safe and properly ‘mothballed’ for the period of closure. Is there someone local who can check on the facility?
• Inform your insurer that the facility is unoccupied and how often it is being checked.
• Rent and other utilities – if you are struggling to pay bills, contact your landlord or utility provider to see if any relief is available.
• Non-domestic rates relief is available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in 2020-21.
• The government has announced a package of support to help businesses who are struggling with water utility charges. The current advice is to contact your water provider for information.
The facilities team at sportscotland has produced a useful guidance note for owners/operators of sports facilities.
If your club employs staff the following support is available for employers:
• Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: UK Government has committed to reimbursing 80% of wages of employees (on PAYE) of businesses and charities whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19. To be eligible, employees need to have been formally asked in writing to stop working and placed on a leave of absence (‘furloughed’).
• Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief for small businesses: Small businesses can reclaim up to 2 weeks SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 – either ill or self-isolating.
• Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: UK Government has put in place a scheme to support self-employed people who have lost income due to COVID-19. If your club contracts sports coaches or others who are self-employed you should advise them to read the guidance as they will have to apply themselves.
Managing your finances
Many of the factors outlined above will have financial consequences and having a clear view of your upcoming financial commitments, when they fall due and whether you have the funds to pay your bills is critical. We recommend that you review your financial situation to identify:
• where income is at risk or may be delayed;
• where savings can be made, or payments deferred; and
• what the impact is on your cash flow.
Assess the possible impact on:
• Membership income – either through loss of subscriptions or inability to carry out planned recruitment
• Grant funding – you may find it difficult to meet agreed funding conditions. It is important that you contact your funder as many bodies are offering flexibility to existing grant holders
• Event entry fees
• Planned fundraising activities
Many of these are covered in detail above, but you will want to review the following:
• Rent and rates
• Utilities costs
• Insurance (boat/buildings/public liability etc.) – you may be able to negotiate a reduced premium on some insurances if activity levels are lower
• Cleaning and maintenance costs
• Staff costs
• Vehicle leasing costs
Early identification of cash flow issues is key so you can contact suppliers and explore opportunities to reduce or defer costs.
If you are registered for VAT, the government is allowing the deferral of VAT payments which fall due between 20th March and 30th June 2020
The law firm Harper MacLeod has produced a guidance document, covering some of the key areas clubs will need to consider including:
• Annual General Meetings
• Data Protection
• Membership subscriptions
Third Sector Resilience Fund
Help for non-domestic rate payers
Other useful sources of information/advice
Business Gateway Coronavirus Support
Business support from Scottish Government
Coronavirus Third Sector Support Hub