10 January 2018

Why Club Memberships are Not Paid

Reasons why members can be slow to renew their annual membership.

Declan Murphy


Dusting off the old cobwebs in January is hard. The weather is woeful, the bugs are doing the rounds and the thoughts of returning to sport can bring a cold sweat.

If you are running a club the New Year might bring fresh challenges like membership renewals. Membership fees are life blood of any sporting organisation but getting all the members to pay up is another story!

Things don’t run like clockwork and members don’t always pay their dues - some folks need an extra push. So why is so hard to get people to pay in time?

No Incentive

Hitting members with a whopping bill this month is a blunt and brutal welcome to the New Year! The silly season and January sales can empty most coffers so people are not exactly flush right now. The ‘early bird’ option gives an incentive by giving a discount on the renewal. Clubs should offer a discount of perhaps 10%-20% on the annual price in October or November for the following year to get some cash in early and give people a chance to budget accordingly.

Carrot and Stick Carrot and Stick

Ease of structured payments

Having to fork out a few hundred euro on a family membership right after Christmas is unpalatable as already mentioned. Clubs should offer a direct debit option of paying off the fee over the year. A few quid a month via Direct Debit will be easier to commit to. It’s better than dodging the club registrar for a few months. Also, having a Direct Debit in place will make it easier to renew year on year.

Different rates

A ‘one size fits all’ won’t suit every club. Different membership rates should apply to players and non-players, for students and the unemployed. The old lad in the club bar should only be paying a reduced social membership - a few drinks tokens with the membership are always welcomed. There should also be a group discount for families. The more kids you have in the club, the bigger the discount should be.

Some clubs start the juvenile membership year to coincide with the return to school in September, instead of starting with the calendar year. By splitting the renewal for children and adults it might ease the financial burden for some families.

One size does not fit all One size does not fit all

Nominate someone to collect

It can’t be the sole responsibility of the club registrar or committee members to chase down stingy members, most people want to avoid conflict - especially with neighbours or family friends etc.

Perhaps an easier way is for the manager of each team to do this on behalf of the club or else ask the captain to do it? Getting the players to row-in will make it less acceptable to avoid paying up. Peer pressure can be used in a positive way.

Also, committee members are not familiar with all their members - only the managers know the identity of the players under them. Five or six players on the juvenile team that I manage are born the year before the rest. When our juvenile registrar is tallying up the membership figures by year of birth he misses out on those members, as he assumes they are on the team from the year below.

And if that doesn’t work… No pay, no play!

Members should be given a cut-off date for renewal. For example, if your renewal is January the cut-off date should be the end of the month so that members will have enough money to spend after their first pay check of the year. The registrar needs to work closely with the nominated collector to have an accurate list of the fare dodgers.

Failing that, players who have not paid should not be allowed to train or compete in matches.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It is not fair on those who have paid.
  2. In a lot of cases, the player is not covered by insurance.

No pay, No play! No pay, No play!