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EXCLUSIVE: Roar Reveals KCLSU Sport Overspend of £88k

KCLSU poster promoting its democratic values

The Sports department of the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) overspent its budget by at least £88,000 in the 2022/23 academic year, a Roar investigation has revealed.

A Union spokesperson blamed “unprecedented financial challenges” for the excess spending, including the closure of some King’s College London (KCL) facilities, which led to an increase in the need for paid venues among KCLSU-ratified sports societies. They also highlighted the cost-of-living crisis as a reason for inflated costs.

KCLSU has admitted that an extra £59,000 was released to cover the increased cost of pitch hires and transport costs, with a further £29,000 spent “at short notice in support of the teams’ successes at various matches enabling them to continue competition at a higher level”.

The Union spokesperson denied that last year’s overspend has led to any adverse impact on budgets for this year. On 30 August 2023, sports teams and activity groups were informed that the Union “will be able to offer less financial support than in previous years”.

Multiple sports teams have told Roar of financial difficulties they have been facing this year. KCL Men’s Football allege that this was, in part, why they chose to “boycott” this year’s Varsity competition, although the Union stated that they were “removed”.

Roar inquired with the KCLSU why societies were only informed about spending cuts weeks before the season began and was told that the information was distributed “following the 2023/24 budget approval by the Board of Trustees in July 2023”.

When asked what they were doing to support student groups through the funding cuts, the spokesperson said “KCLSU is here to support its student groups, and we are in conversation with student groups to advise teams on how to better manage their funding budgets and select options that are more suited to current economic climates”.

Several areas still remain ambiguous. It is unclear if there were overspends in other departments or in different years, as well as the difference between sports funding provided by the KCLSU in this academic year compared to last.

The KCLSU’s declared values are to be “inclusive, collaborative, fun, unbureaucratic, sustainable, transparent and accountable”. The organisation defines ‘transparency and accountability’ as the commitment to “share information and take responsibility including identifying how things could be improved the next time, to enable continuous progress”.

The most recent Annual Financial Report published by the Students’ Union is from the 2021/22 academic year, which finished 20 months ago. With the 2022/23 report set to be published at the end of April, more information may come to light at this date.

Roar is continuing to inquire about the remaining areas of uncertainty, including why sport team support has been reduced during the cost-of-living crisis, if there have been other undisclosed financial issues and why leadership did not declare the overspend to the student body, to whom they are accountable.

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