The extension of the Trust Registration Service (TRS) and supporting legislation to sports clubs, raised numerous questions across the sector after the announcement by HMRC last year.
TRS is a legal requirement applying to unincorporated sailing clubs which have their property / assets held by trustees. Unincorporated clubs are required to register with TRS providing up-to-date club information, including details of the club’s current trustees.
Due to the potential scope of the legislation within the sector and its undeniably complex nature, the RYA collaborated with the Sport and Recreation Alliance (S&RA), with support from Sport England, in order to obtain expert legal opinion to seek clarification on the impact for the sector.
It was hoped that the outcome of Counsel’s Opinion would minimise the number of clubs that are required to register and that circumstances would be highlighted which would allow clubs to avoid needing to register e.g. when property is held in a trust, but the arrangement would not be registrable.
Unfortunately, the process took longer than expected but the S&RA is now in receipt of Counsel’s Opinion. The results broadly confirm the initial understanding that unless a specific exemption applies, such as the charitable exemption Sch3A(5) of The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 / s.287 Charities Act 2011, all asset owning unincorporated clubs (including trophies, boats, bank accounts, land etc.) are affected by the legislation and as such must register their ‘trust.’
The RYA, alongside the S&RA and other national governing bodies, believe that the requirement for grassroots clubs to register with the TRS is disproportionate to the aims of the legislation.
Counsel states: “It is preposterous that AML and anti-terrorist financing rules should apply to sports clubs.” The RYA is therefore supporting the S&RA in making representations to ministers to encourage Government to provide an exemption for sports clubs.
Feedback that the RYA has received from club volunteers is that the current TRS registration process is extremely difficult to navigate, an issue that has been highlighted to ministers. The RYA’s Legal team will continue to collaborate with the S&RA on the TRS, who will be writing to HMRC to share the sports’ position.
The RYA has received reports from clubs that they have been provided with inaccurate information from HMRC, and in some cases they have been advised that they do not have to register. Counsel believes that, unless they qualify for a specific exemption, all unincorporated asset holding sports clubs will need to register.
The RYA has produced detailed and downloadable guidance for affiliated clubs on the TRS on the Legal Structure of Your Club page (scroll down for the Trust Registration Service information).
For further detailed information, please download a copy of the RYA updated TRS Guidance Note.
If you are part of an affiliated club and have any questions regarding this, please contact the RYA Legal team.