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Sweating the Asset

Introducing Facility Enterprise for community sports clubs and facilities

Facility Management, Community Sports Enterprise and Community Impact all coming together

Report from a Sports Marketing Network webinar, run by Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director

Asset transfer is a growing phenomenon…but not everybody should do it!

Asset transfers of community buildings and sports facilities have taken place across the UK for a few years now.  In many cases, they have gone well and many community groups and sports clubs now run their own facilities and can grow their impact in the community.

Some are in a brilliant state, well-maintained and generating income to help for the upkeep of the facility and the running of the clubs. However, there are, unfortunately. also, too many sports facilities, which are in a bad state of repair, being left to the elements and not a place where no one, apart from the club diehards, wants to spend any time. 

So, this can be a daunting task for people who normally are volunteers with little experience in fundraising, planning laws, budgeting and the dozens of aspects involved with developing your community sports facility.

Unfortunately, we have seen too many examples where these developments don’t go to plan, in some cases with dire consequences:

  • the club/organisation does not have the leadership and enterprise experience to make the facility viable and it soon falls into disrepair
  • the club/organisation just wants to be ‘just-a-place-for-sport’ and because there is little no connection with the community, the place is under-utilised
  • due to a lack of experience, good advice and thought-through strategy, the facility is not designed to meet the requirements for running a viable enterprise

Over the years, Sports Marketing Network has worked with probably more community sports facilities than most other people and we have seen some fantastic places, where the clubs/centres can maintain and develop their facilities through strong management and enterprise.

Svend started the webinar by defining sports facility management as overseeing and managing leisure centres, gyms, or other sports facilities, such as practice courts, swimming pools, etc.

Common duties will typically include preparing current financials for the owner of the facility, managing staff and inventory, as well as ordering supplies, equipment and scheduled maintenance or repairs.

He then presented this slide


This slide highlights how important innovation and community engagement is for developing and delivering a really great and financially sustainable sports facility.

That is highlighted in this slide which highlights the importance for your facility to be that hub for the community where community groups, institutions, authorities and so on partner up with your facility and all parties benefit from sharing values and links.

Sport and our facilities must create shared value with its communities

Shared Value for sports clubs and other activity providers can be defined as a new kind of partnership, in which both the club and the community contribute directly to the strengthening and development of each other.

Any centre/club that wants to share value with its community must open up the club and the way it operates to people from outside its ‘inner circle’. By gradually engaging with new groups and institutions e.g. from Women’s Institutes to colleges, you will also connect with new audiences who will bring new ideas, people and skills to your club. 


Svend then introduced the concept of the Community Sports Enterprise where, as the slide shows, there are eight key strands to develop a well-run, sustainable enterprise facility. Those eight strands are interdependent so every facility enterprise must constantly be working on maximising the experiences they provide, the way they generate income and so on.


The webinar then introduced the concept of the balanced income model where facility enterprises develop various funding and income streams from donors, funders, partners and customers ensuring they are less reliant on one single one.


Svend then discussed change and leadership and highlighted how often change programmes fail because there are too many people who are afraid of change and their own role in that strange new world.  He highlighted this little story he heard on his local radio station.


Svend then discussed change and leadership and highlighted how often change programmes fail because there are too many people who are afraid of change and their own role in that strange new world. 
He highlighted this little story he heard on his local radio station.

He then also listed the 12 key paths to developing and delivering successful projects:


  • Get the vision and scope right and get all stakeholders to agree on what the project is trying to achieve
  • Defining major deliverables – do a sanity check (you can’t deliver eternal health and happiness in an afternoon!)
  • Plan the project – Get the BIG picture. Allocate time, activities, resources and financials remembering that a good plan is much more than just a schedule or list of activities
  • Planning is important – the plan is an expression of the planning/thinking that’s gone into it
  • Identify key risks and issues – what can you influence as opposed to worrying about things you can’t – then have a plan B: Say, what happens if it rains at the day of the cricket festival
  • Learn from others’ mistakes – you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself
  • Focus on getting the job done and not necessarily on how it is done
  • Good, honest communication with your project team and any other groups and stakeholders is crucial
  • Overcome complacency – work with real urgency.
  • Motivate team members and stakeholders to deliver quality results. Saying thank you and give people small cool gifts. You can be popular and liked and getting things done
  • Know your key numbers – all the time (participation, income, costs, resources spent and time left).
  • Ensure that every day you are closer to your targets – the best way to miss a target or budget is bit by bit and hope you will catch up tomorrow!

He then suggested that every facility should consider subletting space to community services such as health centres, beauty salons, vets or as in the case of Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club who are renting out one of the buildings on their ground to a children’s nursery, so apart from the very welcome rental income they also get loads on local young families using their car park and becoming familiar with the club.



He then highlighted the importance of providing
a great customer experience, ie in the case of how you serve your coffee:

Then followed some great case studies where community sports clubs and enterprises had delivered some amazing transformations of existing places, from tennis clubs, climbing centres and skate parks – as Svend says

“it can be done”, just get on with it and use the three 3s.


To listen to the whole recording of the webinar click here and if you want to have a chat with Svend on how he can help with sweating your asset and run a viable, enterprising facility contact him 01423 326 660 or email svend@smnuk.com.

Sweat the Asset webinar