We aren’t putting up with this without a fight. While the politicians openly say “non-profit making clubs, like charities, deserve public support” and then classify Royal Lytham and Sunningdale as non-profit making what chance have we here?
So we are taking the fight to Europe. The European Commission doesn’t allow State Aid. Basically forbidden State Aid includes subsidies which distort the market. Subsidies aren’t allowed where they give one part of an industry an advantage over another. They aren’t allowed if the subsidised party carries out economic activity in competition with others. The State Aid is only unlawful if it produces distortion from one Member State to another. Funnily enough CASC can apply to a club not based in the UK. So that helps! We have shown that CASC allows golf clubs in the UK to trade unfairly with golf clubs in Europe. Thanks to the Sports Marketing Survey Report we can compare costs of golf in the UK and Europe. They have given useful figures on tourism in golf for the UK and Europe. Hoorah!
The other criteria for any subsidies that are allowed, is that they would have to be available across the whole of the UK. It seems the Government has fallen foul of that one and hopefully tripped over at the first hurdle. CASC isn’t available in Northern Ireland.
Almost as soon as the new proposed CASC rules were announced in late November, AGCO were on the case.
On December 17th 2013 we filed our complaint to Europe, asking for the CASC scheme to be withdrawn. It seems that if there has been unlawful State Aid the offending Member States have to claw it back. And there are even provisions for damages for those harmed by competing against those benefitting from illegal State Aid. But let’s not hold our breath. Getting rid of CASC would be a real bonus.
Here is our case to Europe
Form for the submission of complaints concerning alleged unlawful State aid – through Community Amateur Sports Club Scheme
Please click here to read and download the document: AGCO State aid CASC Complaint
A typical case of CASC distortion – Hertfordshire
One club in Hertfordshire has effectively lost most of their green fee and society income to CASC registered clubs which are able to have lower membership and green fees due to CASC registration. All of the clubs with which the club competes are open for business to the general public and compete unfairly for memberships, catering, weddings. All of the clubs listed take in excess of the corporation tax threshold in CASC and don’t pay tax. We specifically refer HMRC to the website of Hillier Hopkins, accountants in Hertfordshire, who positively brag at their skill in ensuring that their clients don’t pay corporation tax. http://www.hillierhopkins.co.uk/specialist-sectors/golf-clubs
Ealing Golf Club www.ealinggolfclub.com
A saving in business rates of £50,114; that’s probably equivalent to £100 a member. It is a CASC club very much open to the public. The club advertises for weddings and conferences with its facilities for up to 170 people and its promise of a great venue for a London wedding.
Enfield Golf Club www.enfieldgolfclub.co.uk
This CASC registered club saves £41,071 in business rates. The club has a Marketing and Events Manager and substantial wedding and conference business. The club advertises on its website that it holds: Wedding receptions, Dinner and Dances, Birthday and Christmas Parties, Anniversary Celebrations, Funeral Receptions, Christenings, Tribute Nights, Business Meetings, Training Days and Dinners, Breakfast Meetings. This club takes considerably over the corporation tax threshold for CASC.
Another substantial CASC registered club with a busy commercial business.
Knebworth Golf Club www.knebworthgolfclub.com
This CASC registered club gets rate relief of £38,434, giving a saving of some £80 per member. It is a substantial members’ club with a trade in green fees and societies.
Mill Hill Golf Club www.millhillgc.co.uk
This very substantial CASC club gets business rate relief of £38,810. The club is very much open to the public and houses a Jazz club every Wednesday night!
This club gets rate relief of £43,708, saving each member in the region of £100. The club advertises the splendour of its clubhouse and its wedding, conference and function trade, stressing its position just 5 miles from London’s West End.
Old Fold Manor www.oldfoldmanor.co.uk
This CASC registered club states that they have a “proud reputation for hosting weddings, parties, seminars, and conferences at a price that is tailor-made for every customer and that Old Fold Manor is ideal for Corporate Golf events and Golf Societies of all sizes.” This club is a client of Hillier Hopkins. This club takes considerably over the corporation tax threshold for CASC.
Pinner Hill Golf Club www.pinnerhillgc.co.uk
This CASC registered club has business rate relief of £47,854. This subsidy is the equivalent of £131 per head reduction in subs for the club’s 365 full members. The club has corporate membership packages up to £2,830 plus VAT which gives the company non-shareholding memberships and certain discounts for functions etc. The club is a limited company with shares and an unequal shareholding. We query the status of the corporate members in CASC. CASC registered since March 2004 and with business rate subsidy over that period of an estimated £350,000.
Potters Bar Golf Club www.pottersbargolfclub.com
This CASC registered club has business rate relief of £42,868. They advertise for all sorts of outside events : “Potters Bar Golf Club is available for hire, we can cater our venue to suit a variety of functions including weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays and can accommodate nearly any request”.
Verulam Golf Club www.verulamgolf.co.uk
This CASC registered club has business rate relief of £39,564. This club advertises a very substantial business for weddings, conferences and all manner of functions. They advertise to cater for 120 for a silver service dinner up to 200 for a buffet.
It is our case that not one of these CASC registered golf clubs keeps the income from members and non-members separate and in particular all the clubs mix the bar and catering revenue from members and non-members. They also mix the green fees from members’ guests (paid by members) and visitors. It is our case that every one of these CASC registered clubs is breaking the CASC regulations, with trading which falls outside the “social adjunct” rules and income from non- members in excess of the CASC corporation tax limit.
The competition from these CASC registered clubs, with their business rate relief and failing to declare their taxable income, has effectively destroyed the business of one long standing and previously very successful proprietary club in Hertfordshire. This exercise can be repeated for most proprietary clubs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Click here and read on: CASC and 2014