Football bores me personally, but it’s hard to live in Scotland and not to be aware of the passion and commitment it arouses in Scottish communities. A tiny nation has been trying to accommodate a finance structure which belongs to an international entertainment industry, and has made local clubs the playthings of rich entrepreneurs. It doesn’t work. We’ve just had the announcement that a second major club faces imminent bankruptcy, and it’s the fans and supporters who have been asked to save it.
This posting, then, is flying a kite. Communal activities, which rely on communal support, don’t have to be organised communally, but they can be. Public organisations which promote “participation in sport”, recreation and culture are now able to register as charities in Scotland – provided they are not for profit, they offer substantial benefits to the broader community, and they are properly governed. (There’s no intrinsic bar to a professional sport. The English Charity Commission’s guidance is directed only at amateur sport, but that’s not the distinction here; other charities employ professionals, and some such as theatres put on professional shows.) The full list of criteria for charitable status is laid out at OSCR’s website. A football club could qualify. But it is going to call for a rethink of what football clubs do, and how they do it.