How our clubs embraced Club Together project – and invested £1.29m

Tuesday 5th December 2023

Club Together Annual Report 22 – 23

Scottish Athletics Club Together Guidance

By Peter Jardine

Two years after the Club Together Programme had launched, an interim report reflected that few would have believed quite how far the project would have travelled.

We can say the same again now, almost a further decade on!

And there are some quite remarkable statistics now available which cover exactly what has happened across our community of clubs in synergy with their governing body.

We will come to that later but let’s initially rewind to shortly before Glasgow 2014, when Club Together was only two-years-old after first being introduced in 2011 against the backdrop of the impedning London Olympics of 2012.

‘The formula for success is key and for us that has first and foremost proved to be a club committee that is open to change and willing to adopt a clear vision of where they want to go,’ said Mark Munro, at time our Head of Development and later to be chief executive first with ourselves and then UK Athletics.

‘Then you need the rest of the club to buy into that vision and the appointment of a proactive Club Together Officer and the strong support from local partner as well as scottishathletics.’

Our feature in PB magazine back in 2013 which looked at the first two years of the Club Together Programme

It’s a simple formula when put like that but, over the years across various templates at numerous clubs, those principles have applied to numerous clubs the length and breadth of Scotland.

A number of different club roles have been funded – be that across the areas of coaching, development or administration. Or, indeed, combinations of these facets.

The overall outcome has been more ‘professional’ clubs in the purest sense of the word professional while still, of course, leaning heavily and hugely on the volunteer ‘workforce’ who make the sport happen in Scotland on a weekly basis.

Remarkably, Club Together continues to grow and develop, with no signs yet of reaching its peak.

Club Together currently involves 23 clubs, employing 33 professional officers that deliver 530 hours of paid club development work per week. All of which are the highest ever since the programme began.

This has led to six percent growth in club membership in 2022/2023 for clubs involved in the programme and a staggering 87 percent retention rate of new members in the same period.

In fact, our data shows that membership growth and retention is consistently higher in Club Together clubs than those outside the programme. The benefits of the programme are clear for club growth and development.

Photo by Bobby Gavin

What consistently amazes scottishathletics is the resilience and sustainability of the clubs involved in the programme. Over the 12 years that Club Together has existed, our clubs have invested £1,290,000 in the various posts.

What has been even more impressive, is how the clubs step-up financially each time a major funding stream begins to disappear.

For example, with dwindling Local Authority/Leisure Trust investment with the current financial crisis, and also the end of the sportscotland Direct Club Investment fund, our clubs have plugged the financial gap.

‘Over the 12 years since Club Together was first launched, it is abundantly clear that the programme has been a major success,’ says Jamie McDonald, scottishathletics National Club Manager and Club Together Lead.

‘On average, clubs involved in the programme have seen a growth of over 70 percent, which is just incredible.

‘Dedicated club volunteers, who are absolutely critical, working alongside Club Together staff with a clear vision and plan has been an effective combination that has seen many benefits including membership and volunteer growth alongside enhancements to club infrastructure.

‘Club Together has also helped to shape other areas of club and athletics development – governance and management, coaching and Officials recruitment and development, competition, facilities, inclusive athletics, equality, community and school links and marketing/communication.

Jamie McDonald, our Club Together Lead, chats to club reps at Conference in 2022 (photo by Bobby Gavin)

‘I certainly feel as if the programme has led to stronger partnership working between scottishathletics and athletics clubs in general as well as stronger alliances with local partners – Club Together has been a focal point to draw partners together.

‘Increasingly, and especially over the last six years, as clubs have developed the Club Together project has also evolved to meet clubs needs. We encourage clubs to look at their needs and what they need in terms of Officer support.

‘The club roles can be broadly categorised as follows: general growth and development, business operations, coaching, working with underrepresented groups, and clubs with multiple roles in the above categories.’

To provide club examples of the diversity of roles.

*Aberdeen AAC have two positions – a Club Manager and Pathways Development Officer, both delivering 25 hours per week.

*Springburn Harriers have grown their Club Development Officer role to a 35 hour per week role and Central AC have a 28 hour per week position.

*In contrast: Fife AC and Dunfermline Track and Field Club both have very effective roles and officers that provide roles delivering under ten hours per week which focus on community and junior athletics coaching delivery.

Jamie added: ‘We (SAL) continue to employ roles in partnership with clubs but, increasingly, clubs are setting up employment and payroll services to engage staff directly.

‘We have external resource to provide support in this area. Additionally, clubs are engaging additional paid staff (over and above Club Together roles) with particular focus on administration and coaching roles now across 35 athletics clubs in Scotland.’

In time, scottishathletics envisage that Club Together will evolve and grow further to meet the needs of clubs.

What seems beyond dispute is that the early vision from more than a decade ago has been a development game-changer.

If interested, please email



Tags: Club Together programme, Clubs, Jamie McDonald

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