Conventional sporting wisdom suggests that community clubs experiencing financial difficulty arising from increasing costs, reducing income, (or a combination of the two factors), amalgamate with a neighbouring club to remain viable.

In many cases, the stronger of the merged entities declares the amalgamation to be a success, while the entity acquiescing to amalgamation experiences disappointment (and disappears). While amalgamation generally infers an "equal merger", it can quickly become an "unequal takeover" by the stronger of the amalgamating parties.

In the process of amalgamation, community-based clubs often lose their sense of community and identity. As this Association believes (and as confirmed by last year’s National Amateur Club Survey), a community club is about much more than the sport itself.

(In 1977, the Athletic RFC celebrated 100 years; it's 1983 amalgamation has been troubled)

Admittedly, in the era of professional sport, not all community clubs share the same objectives. Some exist primarily for the benefit of "community well-being" (a policy goal of the current Government), while others have aligned themselves to elite development pathways to feed raw talent into commercial sport. In some cases, the touted benefits of amalgamation are masked by these conflicting objectives. Sports governing bodies have a duty to their codes to vigilantly define the objectives of clubs considering amalgamation.

(Asset rich and cash poor, many Bowling Clubs nationally face the prospect of amalgamation)

In a timely challenge to conventional wisdom, sports governing bodies could consider another way to achieve the benefits of amalgamation without sacrificing the identity of the amalgamating parties. The synergies (financial and otherwise) created through the merging of governance and operations into an umbrella entity can create the amalgamation benefits desired, without sacrificing the community-based identities of the participating parties.

It is an elegant, practical and pragmatic solution, which simply requires genuine goodwill and honesty between all parties, based on their shared “love of the game”.