IRISH sport has embraced state-of-the-art sports science and nutrition to prepare teams, but too many clubs are still using old fashioned ledgers and a landline to conduct administration.
But the era of the invoice book with a carbon copy is long gone and failure to adapt to rigorous governance legislation could land clubs in trouble.
Sports clubs across the country are being exposed to serious compliance risks by not using robust data systems to administer membership and fundraising, according to MyClubFinance, an online administration service.
There are about 12,000 sports clubs in Ireland and, under law, they must act in accordance with the Data Protection Act. However, many are simply unfamiliar or completely unaware of those obligations.
The two most common acts of noncompliance are taking credit card payment over the phone or in person verbally and not having a centralised data base of members.
Other mistakes include insufficient paper trails for financial transactions such as fees and fundraising tickets; sharing members' personal data without express permission; and keeping records on an antiquated computer without a back-up.
Working with 844 sporting clubs, MyClubFinance warns that clubs need to start taking compliance seriously.
CEO of MyClubFinance Warren Healy said: "Clubs need an alternative to traditional paper-based administration that is more efficient and critically, compliant, to protect them against its often overlooked financial and legal liabilities.
"The assumption is that an on-line system will be cost and time prohibitive, but there is an affordable and user-friendly solution. Going online also means clubs can utilise their own website as a genuine income generator, efficiently managing memberships, collecting fees and fundraising."
Healy believes there is a growing awareness that data protection is a subject that club administrators need to be educated on. He says administrators do not feel like they know enough to "do the right and legal thing" for their members. In many instances, there is a desire to be compliant but the information on data protection is missing or difficult to find as it relates to sports clubs.
"Many members of sporting organisations are also aware of their rights," he says. "In some instances the club members know more than the club administrators and this has caused some friction. The DP's office are legally obliged to investigate all concerns raised by members, and over the last year alone we have had cause to provide information to the DP's office on their request. Thankfully, in all cases, everything was deemed to be in order. However, go back one year and there were no concerns raised with the DP's office.
"We see this as an area that is going to cause more and more time spent by club administrators, and the clubs that are not using some system of data management will end up spending significantly more time than those that are using some data management tool."
Sunday Indo Sport