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02.12.2019 - Ausgabe: 6/2019

Money for sports grounds - how clubs secure financing

© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS / stock.adobe.com

A good infrastructure is essential for every sports club. Whilst some clubs pursue their activities on communal sports grounds, others have owned and leased their own facilities for decades. Whilst self-reliance offers these clubs more autonomy and independence from municipal funding, they must also arrange and finance their own maintenance and refurbishments.

It is no secret that there is a large backlog of refurbishment work to be undertaken on sports facilities in Germany, with their condition jeopardising the long-term pursuit of sports in many places  Sports associations have been drawing attention to this lamentable state of affairs for many years and calling for an increase in public funding and support to eliminate this backlog. Communal sports facilities can be refurbished through a whole range of measures including project funds from the government (e.g. the  "Federal Programme for the Refurbishment of Communal Facilities in the Areas of Sport, Youth and Culture"), regional governments and the EU (which, rather than directly, provides support via indirect routes such as the financing of rural development). Although significant differences are depending on the federal state and structure in the opportunities to secure grants for the refurbishment of sports facilities, and such funding is also nowhere near sufficient, towns and municipalities are, however, benefiting from a growing network of options. 

Clubs with their own sports facilities, on the other hand, need to be a little more creative in securing funding. And this creativity and self-organisation are also required for maintenance. Here it is not possible to resort to municipal resources and clubs must assume responsibility for the upkeep of facilities themselves. However, the situation has improved for them in recent years. New project funding has also been made available and they are no longer exclusively applicants to their own local authorities and the sports associations. However, the refurbishment and modernisation of clubs' own sports facility infrastructure can only usually be achieved with additional internal funds and grants. And the former in particular is sometimes associated with financial complications. When seeking to modernise a sports facility, every club should exhaust all the opportunities for funding and avoid taking a financial risk. The following is a short overview of the available options: 

Support from sports associations

Most important is the option of advice and support from sports associations. Every sports club which is a member of a state sports association and therefore also of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), can receive support from these institutions for the financing of sports facility modernisation or even reconstruction. The experts at the associations provide advice and are also aware of a host of options beyond those mentioned here. As a modernisation initiative is a major undertaking, this support should certainly be taken into consideration. Ideally, this should be one of the first steps.

Federal state government/federal state sports association funding

The federal-state governments and national state sports associations support the construction and refurbishment of clubs' own sport facilities with funding. The regional government of North Rhine Westphalia, for example, recently made EUR 300 million available for the refurbishment of clubs' own sports facilities under its much-admired "Modern Sports Facility 2022" funding programme. Interested clubs can submit project outlines and hope for a swift payout. Energy and digital modernisation, gender equality, the achievement of accessibility and actions to prevent accidents and injuries are particular priorities for funding. This promotion fund is the largest to date.  Clubs should inform themselves in advance about the options for funding through their own federal state or the state sports association. With regard to the funding that is often accessed for the construction of artificial turf pitches, it should be noted that the construction of artificial pitches infilled with plastic granules will not be financed in 15 of 16 federal states until further notice. This is in response to a potential EU ban on such granules. 


Government funding for climate and environmental protection

Clubs can also receive federal funding for energy-saving refurbishments and modernisation projects that help to preserve the environment. Of particular interest are the conversion of sports hall lighting to LED lights, the refurbishment of air-conditioning systems and the installation of shading devices which use natural light.


EU funding - depends largely on the regional situation

The EU funding for sports facility construction mentioned earlier is essentially also available for clubs. However, these funds are special and typically depend on the location of the facility. In rural zones and in border areas, for example, there are options. In this regard the DOSB has published a "Sports Facility Funding" guide via the EU which explains the funding system and how to go about applying.


Local authority funding

Even if local authorities generally have a lot on their plates with the maintenance and refurbishment of communal sports facilities and themselves depend on funding from other sources, it is nevertheless worth making contact in advance. After all, the local authority wants the clubs within its jurisdiction to have good sports infrastructure. And many clubs also receive funding for trainer development and youth sport from local authority coffers. So it is therefore worth making contact, which may even result in local authority funding being awarded. However, the situation varies and whether funding is provided will largely depend on the financial health of the respective local authority coffer. 


Private funding

Since time immemorial regional partners have also provided support for sports clubs. And the smaller the municipality, the greater the support from local businesses usually is. In addition to collecting their donations, clubs can also offer businesses sponsorship opportunities.  From an advertising hoarding on a new football pitch or in a modernised sports hall to the award of naming rights and the provision of sports courses for employees - there are many options. Although there have been several attempts to facilitate the funding of team sports by business in a coordinated manner, the clubs in many places are left to their own devices.   Here those in charge of the club must develop a good concept and bring the right partner on board.


Online sponsorships / crowdfunding

For many years the internet has offered opportunities for the financing of sports facilities. While it has long been possible to sponsor individual square metres of a football ground, it is also possible to develop an entire crowdfunding concept. On the internet there are now service providers offering software solutions for such undertakings. And clubs should also take full advantage of these options because every single additional euro for sports facilities is a gain.


Own funds / credits

Finally, clubs naturally also have the option of self-financing. While raising membership fees alone is not going to pay for the construction of a sports ground, such action can certainly play a small part. Various banks offer special credits for the modernisation of clubs' own sports facilities in tandem with state governments and state sports associations. However, every club board should also be aware of the risks.

These are just a few of the ways in which sports clubs can finance the refurbishment of their own facilities. A multi-layered approach should be taken to any such project and all options weighed up. As well as sports associations, internet portals such as the Sports Facility Calculator (www.sportstaettenrechner.de) can also provide assistance. Sports clubs, which are mostly run on a voluntary basis, must be able to offer their members modern and safe sports facilities and this is an important task which requires wide-ranging support. Because it is only through its sports clubs that Germany can provide a vibrant and diverse sports offering.



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