GRASSROOTS football clubs could be eligible for business support from Wrexham Council to help gain new facilities and own their own pitches if they were to become social enterprises.
Wrexham Council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee received a report from Claire Hinchliffe, from the authority’s business development team, on support given to start-ups and business looking to relocate to the city.
One of the key projects being looked at by the team for the rest of 2022-23 and 2023-24 is providing business support to grassroots football clubs.
The council’s Business Enterprise Officer is currently in the early stages of working with the Football Association of Wales (FAW) along with other council departments to look at a support package for grass roots clubs to develop their committee structures.
This will enable local clubs to become self-sustainable financially and develop the skills, capacity and legal requirements to purchase or lease assets such as pitches, changing rooms and develop other business propositions in the community.
This aspect of the report caught the eye of Rhosnesni Cllr Mike Davies (non-aligned independent), who queried whether it was more of a health and wellbeing issue.
He said: “I’m not sure where this sits in the remit of this forum, I see it as more of a health, wellbeing issue but I’m willing to listen.”
Ms Hinchcliffe explained that it was part of a pilot, and encouraged by the FAW to enable grass roots clubs to grow and develop their facilities.
She said: “The (council’s) health and wellbeing department contacted us and we went to a meeting with them.
“It’s a pilot and with the Welsh FA. It’s been explained to us that there’s a missing link between playing football and the facilities – maybe gaining funding and knowledge so they could become a social enterprise as there’s a community focus.
“A lot of these football clubs serve the community and bring people together. They wanted us to go in and explain what one (a social enterprise) was and the process of it, the benefits of it.
“It’s up to us to educate and explain that’s an avenue they could take to bring their club higher, that there are different avenues of funding and things available for them.”
She added: “It’s a different aspect of social enterprises.
“There will also be a whole different market that maybe we don’t engage with at the moment, mums and dads with businesses, they would get to know us and what we do as well.”
Cllr Davies asked whether this could be widened to other community groups.
He said: “Wouldn’t that also apply to any leisure or athletics club, scouts, guides etc? They could all use the benefits of that, why would it apply just to grassroots football.”
Officers explained that there is a specific initiative for football with the business support team specifically asked to provide that support.
Other sectors can receive similar support but this is a formal project for social enterprise queries that could benefit other areas of Wrexham’s community.
It could help provide opportunities to younger people to play football currently without facilities, and create that sustainability by drawing on the skills and experience that comes with being a formal social enterprise.
Cllr Davies thanked the officers for the explanation.
Going forward the committee made a number of recommendations which are;
For the executive board to support a business team application for UK Government Shared Prosperity Funding
That the scrutiny committee welcomes further reports and an action plan for further areas of development
More information to be provided on outreach and business creation support that has happened in first quarter of 2022-23.