The software platform Klubmodul has improved club finances, and through more than a decade, the founder has observed how expectations for sports clubs have changed.

By Camilla Bevensee, Nordic SportsLab

Klubmodul was a sportstech startup before sportstech startups were a thing. It began before apps required online credit cards. Before it was possible to be the accountant in an association without a HD degree in finance.

Thirteen years later, the administration system has helped change the approach to registration, bookkeeping, and charging in thousands of Danish associations. Klubmodul provides accounting software, homepage, email, and registration services in one package deal, and according to CEO and founder Jesper Weltström, it has made a difference for the more than 2000 clubs the service counts among its customers.

“Our contribution to the broad world of sports is that we have changed the economy 140 per cent for these clubs. Previously, if a club started operating in August, it sent out giro cards a month ahead. Then two to three months would pass, and the club would not get its payments before sometime in November. The current arrangement allows the clubs to open registrations for the upcoming season in June, and when they begin charging, they will have all their money before the season even starts. To them, that’s a monumental difference,” says Welström.

Challenging the Mindset of Danish Sports Associations

It is not just in expediting an otherwise slow and cumbersome charging process that Klubmodul has helped move sports and association culture in a much more efficient direction. Digital administration challenges the kind of season-based mindset that otherwise has characterised most clubs.

“The way club membership worked – and still does in many places – was having seasons with start dates and end dates, then usually a winter or summer break, and then you need to register anew before the start of a new season. That has completely changed in many of our clubs, where you’re a member until you opt out,” says the CEO with a smile, acknowledging that it all may sound somewhat banal.

In the context of Danish association sports culture, however, it is a wholly new way of thinking, and it is a practical contribution to a new kind of club affiliation.

“It really doesn’t matter if it’s the summer or the winter season – you just play handball until you don’t play handball anymore, whether it’s for 10 or for 2 seasons. Rather like having a Netflix subscription, where you’re a member as long as you pay,” the entrepreneur explains.

Business Before Association Culture

Even though the development of the user-friendly and automated administration system has helped many associations and clubs across the entire country, Weltström did not invest considerable time and money in the company for the sake of volunteers or out of charity for sports. Klubmodul was first and foremost conceived as a business, and Weltström believes clubs should take the same approach of doing good business by providing good service for their members.

“We can observe how the individual club member’s expectations have changed just in the years we have been active, both in terms of what services they expect from their club, and what the club can expect in terms of participation from each member. Some clubs want high volunteer participation, and they make volunteer work a requirement for membership. Other clubs are indifferent. And yet others tell their members that if they don’t volunteer, they need to pay more, as the club needs to hire an additional instructor,” Weltström explains.

In the eyes of the founder, one model is not necessarily better than the other. He just notes that there are many ways of running an association, and the most important thing to him is that Klubmodul can support all of them.

“There is a cultural struggle right now. Some clubs insist on staying volunteer-oriented presences in their local community, while others are saying ‘listen, you just pay your membership fee, and we provide the appropriate service’, and that is fine,” says Weltström, who nevertheless still sees most clubs sticking to classical sports association values.