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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 12:56 GMT
Amateur clubs under threat
A village cricket game at Tilbury, Surrey
Some of England's amateur cricket clubs may fold
The bosses of Britain's top amateur sports have warned thousands of their local clubs will fold unless the government abolishes plans for an increase in rates tax.

England's cricket, rugby, golf, tennis and bowls clubs are believed to be most vulnerable to the changes in taxation.

The moves are being opposed by Sir Steven Redgrave and former Sports Minister Kate Hoey.

Under the current system, local authorities in England have the ability to grant rate relief to sporting clubs.

But new government plans mean any club with a rateable value of more than 8,000 a year would no longer be eligible for relief.

To put another burden on amateur clubs is quite ridiculous
Sir Steven Redgrave
The Central Council of Physical Recreation claims this would leave amateur clubs facing a tax bill of up to 40m a year.

A figure that could put a "substantial" number of them out of business.

Both Hoey and Redgrave have been quick to oppose the new measures, and spoke out in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"Most of our amateur clubs don't make any money," said the five-time Olympic champion.

"We're giving lottery money to clubs and then finding another way of taking it away from them."

Hoey says the proposals are something she opposed when they were released in a green paper entitled Paying for Local Government during her time in office last year.

"To introduce something which will put a substantial number of our successful small clubs at risk is just crazy," she said.

Amateur Michael Hoey plays his second shot to the 18th green during the second round of the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
No golf club would be exempt under the new rules
The CCPR chief Margaret Talbot would like to see the current system abolished to secure the future of England's grass-roots clubs.

"We want not-for-profit and voluntary clubs to get the same 80% rate relief as charities, with the remaining 20% discretionary," she said.

The bosses of Britain's sporting organisations have given their backing to the CCPR's aims.

"Discretionary rate relief should not lie in the whim of cash-strapped local authorities," said Lawn Tennis Association chief John Crowther.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief Tim Lamb insisted parity with charity is vital to help England's 7,000 amateur cricket clubs survive.

"It's essential to the development of sport in this country that grass-roots clubs are given every financial assistance to flourish," he said.

Under the new proposals no golf club or indoor bowls club would qualify for rate relief.

The CCPR estimates that a bowls club would have to find, on average, an extra 45,000 a year.

See also:

07 Nov 01 |  Drugs in Sport
IOC rejects new test
04 Nov 01 |  Search for a New Wembley
FA ready to ditch Wembley
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