What is your story?

It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.

Yes, it is tough out there and sport and our clubs and centres are not immune from the effects from the chilli winds blowing across the country. A majority of Football League clubs are in arrears with their VAT and Tax payments, most clubs with club bars report a decline in bar sales and sponsorships are becoming increasingly difficult to come by.

So, what can you do to ensure that your club survives this credit crunch and still is able to deliver your sporting ambitions at whatever level your club is at.

Are you a Woolworth or an Asda?

Let’s first look at which businesses and industries that are doing well: Dominos Pizza, Gregg the Bakers, McDonald’s, Aldi, Asda (they are planning to open 40 new stores), holiday parks, wood stove manufacturers and retailers…there’s something here about value, home comfort and clear directions. A good story and a well run business with quality people. (Aldi have just recruited 102 graduates at £40,000 per annum plus an Audi).

These businesses and industries are all able to tell compelling stories which are relevant to their audiences. Compare this to a rugby club which over the years has been selling off pitches to finance their sporting ambitions and which is currently fighting for their lives due to a previous, less than dynamic, management. The current Chairman is working hard to raise shirt term cash from members and others, but as the club for years has been quite happy to live in their ‘own little world’ and has not played any part of its local community they are finding it very tough going. As the Chairman stated: “sports clubs without a clear strategy are finding it even more difficult to attract support from cash-strapped commercial businesses”.

At the same time far too many clubs are still asking businesses and others to ‘Support Our Club’ without offering any reason whatsoever why anyone should want to support the club. These clubs do not offer any benefits to potential sponsors (probably because there are precious few benefits), there are no stories on how the club and its members are performing a key role in the local community and neither are they able to offer any innovative, exciting ways outside partners can engage with the club to deliver sporting, health or community programmes. And yet they want people to “Support Our Club”.

The way forward

Everyone involved with running your club (and other interested people) should sit down, away from the normal committee meetings, and discuss how to develop your story, What do you stand for, where are you going, what exciting initiatives could you develop to make your club stand out?

To help you look outside the box I suggest you try and attend one of Sports Marketing Network’s workshops or alternatively invite a sports development officer from your local authority or your governing body to your meeting. You could also invite various community leaders from out side sport, such as head teachers, vicars, community groups, social/community workers etc.

The key objective is how develop a number of ways your club can a bigger role in your community and become ‘more than just a sports club’. If you can go out say ‘we will support our community’ you will be amazed what support and funding could become available to you.

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