Risk management is about being aware of what may happen at your football club and taking steps to limit the chances of it occurring. Risk is not necessarily harmful on its own, but left unaddressed it can have a significant negative impact on a football club.
It is important for football clubs to undertake a structured approach to risk management so they can demonstrate to insurers and others that they have taken the precautionary measures to minimise risk.
Given the increasing desire of people to hold organisations accountable for their actions and the difficulty in obtaining appropriate insurance, risk management is a crucial aspect to modern management of football at all levels.
- Take risk seriously. Someone could get hurt, leaving your club wide open for legal action
- Appoint a risk manager within your club to review the risks you face. Utilise fresh eyes e.g. a council representative
- Document your risk management policy so you can refer to it when required
The Risk Management Program requirements
The objective of a sports risk management program is to protect the assets and financial resources of your club and its members by reducing risk and the potential for loss. Reduced legal risk is a by-product of the implementation of an effective risk management program.
The development of an organisational risk management policy and support system is needed to provide a framework for carrying out a program. Crucial to the success of the program is the support of the management committee and their desire for the philosophy to become a part of the football club's culture.
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Risk Management Policy
The club's executive should define and document its policy for risk management. The risk management policy should be relevant to the club’s strategic context and its goals, objectives and the nature of the business. The policy may include the following information:
- The rationale for managing risk
- The objectives of, and commitment to, risk management
- The links between the policy and the club's strategic plan
- The extent, or range of issues to which the policy applies
- Guidance on what may be regarded as acceptable risk
- Who is responsible for managing risk
- The support available for those managing risk
- The level of documentation required
- The plan for reviewing organisational performance in regard to the policy
The committee should ensure that this policy is understood, implemented and maintained at all levels of the club.
There is a constant need for administrators to identify risks, deal with them and then evaluate whether the strategies that are subsequently implemented are effectively dealing with the risk.
Identify the risks to be managed by examining all categories.
Risks can be divided into the following four categories:
- Physical risks
- Financial risks
- Ethical or moral risks
- Legal risks
In particular clubs should consider the following areas when identifying potential risks:
- Committee members
- Emergency procedures
- Environmental conditions
- First aid procedures
- Infectious Diseases
- Protective equipment
- Recreation leaders
- Sun safety
Some additional areas that your club should consider are:
- Child protection legislation, AFL Kids First and Working with Children
- Harassment and Racial and Religious Tolerance
- Member Protection
Match day checklist
A match day checklist is an important component of an overall risk management strategy.
In terms of insurance, the match day checklists demonstrate to the insurers that clubs are taking some responsibility to reduce the frequency of injuries and claims.
The completion of the match day checklists demonstrate, in the event of a litigation case, that a procedure was in place to assess the condition of the playing surface and surrounding areas.
After the risks to your club have been identified, they must be managed in priority order. Risks should be classified in the following categories:
- Frequent accidents with severe consequences
- Strategy for management is to avoid such risks
- Infrequent accidents with major loss
- Strategy for management may be to take out insurance
- Frequent accidents with minor loss
- Strategy for management may be to manage risk
- Infrequent accidents with minor injury
- Strategy for management may be to accept the risk
Evaluate the risks
Compare the level of risk found during the analysis process with the previously established risk criteria and decide whether the risks can be accepted. If they are low risk they can be accepted with minimal treatment but if they are not they need to be treated with one of the options presented in Risk Treatment.
Set out strategies to treat each risk. These strategies need to address each of the identified risks to be reduced.
Risk reduction may lower the frequency and severity of accidents and injuries and may even help maintain or reduce insurance premiums payable.
The six major treatment options include:
- Accept the risk
- Avoid the risk
- Reduce the risk
- Transfer the risk
- Retain the risk
- Finance the risk
Some examples of treating the risk include:
Level of Risk
- Provide safe playing fields
- Clean prior to use
Monitoring and review
Risks and the effectiveness of control measures need to be monitored to ensure changing circumstances do not alter risk priorities.
Few risks remain static; factors that may affect the likelihood and consequences of an outcome may change, as may the factors that affect the suitability or cost of the various treatment options.
Review is an integral part of the risk management treatment plan.