Charitable leisure trust in Sheffield increased income by £100m last year

The accounts of the Sheffield City Trust, which ran the Don Valley Stadium, show its income rose from £61.9m in 2012/13 to nearly £163m last year, mostly because of improved council grants

Don Valley Stadium
Don Valley Stadium

A charitable trust set up to operate leisure facilities in Sheffield increased its income by more than £100m last year, its annual accounts show.

The accounts, filed with the Charity Commission at the end of last month, show that the Sheffield City Trust had an income of just under £163m in the year to 31 March 2014, nearly three times its income of £61.9m for 2012/13.

The rise, which comes after four years of steady growth from an income of £55m in 2008/09, makes it the 37th-largest registered charity in England and Wales by annual income.

The trust, which operates as Sheffield International Venues and was registered with the Charity Commission in 1988, has the objects of providing leisure and recreation facilities for the inhabitants of South Yorkshire, as well as promoting health, providing housing, advancing education and the relief of poverty.

The increase in income is the result of bigger contributions from Sheffield City Council: the local authority gave the charity £18.6m in 2012/13 and £120m in 2013/14.

The extra £101m was made up principally of a grant of £32.5m to the charity relating to its financial restructuring and various other payments, plus a £66.3m payment to assist it in buying out the leases of four of the city’s major venues.

On 30 September 2013, the charity and the council agreed a deal to terminate the leases on four venues – Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Hillsborough Leisure Centre, the Motorpoint Arena and the Don Valley Stadium, the athletics venue famous as the place Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill took up athletics.

The leases were held by a consortium of banks and were due to expire in 2024.

As well as using the council’s £66.3m payment, the charity bought out the leases by spending its £140.4m investment pot, which had been bringing in about £8.7m a year. It now has just £100 of investments, all of which are shares in its subsidiary companies.

The charity then sold the lease for the Don Valley Stadium to the council for just under £3m, which represented a loss to the charity of £29.5m. The accounts say the council told the charity that it needed to reduce leisure funding, and the charity had decided that closing Don Valley and avoiding cutbacks or closures elsewhere would be the best way to maintain its services for the public. The stadium was closed on 29 September 2013.

The charity’s income generated from sources other than the council rose from £28.1m to £30.1m. It also reduced its expenditure on ongoing activities from £61.9m to £57.4m.

The business review section of the accounts says: "All the existing facilities are performing well and it is the intention of the trustees to continue to invest in them as much as possible and to maximise attendances."

It says that the charity will be affected by future cuts to public spending, and the risk management section of the accounts says the principal risk to the charity is the council’s ability to provide it with funding.

The charity had 1,334 employees in 2013/14, its accounts show.

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