Club Legal Structures
The importance of understanding your legal structure
Each Club is different. At The FA, we recognise that, but we also see the tangible benefits that can be gained by Clubs from our sharing of knowledge and best practice across the football sector. This Guide therefore addresses the different types of legal structure and tax status which a Club can adopt. This Guide has been prepared in response to requests by Clubs over the years for basic guidance in relation to the governance and operation of their Club. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic led many Clubs to re-think how they operate their Club and, in particular, whether their current legal structure adequately protects those responsible for management of the Club.
Some of the questions we have been asked include: What types of legal structure can a Club adopt? What difference does a Club’s tax status make? Could I be held personally liable if I accept a position on the Management Committee? These are all common questions which we believe merit straightforward answers in plain English. This Guide weighs up some of the commonly recognised advantages and disadvantages of each type of structure which a Club could adopt. It also sets out in broad terms what a Club should do ‘step by step’ if it wishes to set itself up as, or convert into, a limited company (a process known as ‘incorporation’).
The FA does not have any set rules or requirements which specify that a Club must be one legal form or another. It is a matter for each Club to determine the most appropriate legal form which is best for the Club based on its own circumstances. We strongly recommend that a Club seeks independent legal and tax advice in relation to both the legal structure and tax status which it should adopt, as well as the necessary steps to be taken.
Before making any changes to its legal structure, the Club should also give prior notice to The FA, (and the league and County FA in which its membership resides), in relation to the application of football’s rules. The FA works with law firm, Muckle LLP, in supporting Charter Standard Clubs and Leagues and has sought their input in preparing this Guide. Muckle LLP’s sports team has advised Clubs from grassroots to the top of the professional game on these issues, including over two thirds of the 92 professional Clubs in the football league. If you are considering the incorporation of your Club, Muckle LLP has prepared a suite of template documents necessary to set up the company and acquire the assets of the existing Club which you can access for a fixed price. Further information on legal structure and tax status is available for Clubs free at https://www.muckle-llp.com/what-we-do/sports/the-football-association/ .
Alternatively, if you think you may need more bespoke advice on the options available to your Club, please contact your Tom.Measham@sheffieldFA.co who may be able to sign post you to Muckle LLP for free support. If the free support from Muckle LLP is not available via your County FA you can contact them on 0191 211 7777 or email@example.com to receive a quote for their advice. Alternatively you could seek advice from any other Legal Service Provider.
Below is the guide to Club Structures
Contact Tom.Measham@SheffieldFA.com for further support.