All clubs and associations, and groups of people concerned with a purpose or a particular activity, need money to finance themselves. Very few associations are self-supporting in the sense that an annual subscription paid by members covers all the running costs of these associations. Most associations have to have an income to cover costs and this may be derived from a variety of sources, from bar profits of licensed clubs to large sponsorship programmes of governing bodies. There are legal implications in activities associated with the raising of an income and these will be considered in relation to the activities concerned.
One of the most usual means by which a club or association derives an income is by the sale or supply of alcohol to members through the establishment of a bar.
Before any club can install a bar to sell alcoholic drinks to members, it must either be registered under the Licensing Act 1964 (amended by the Licensing Acts of 1988 and 1989) and granted a registration certificate, or it must be a proprietary club and granted a licence. A proprietary club is owned by one 'individual' known as the proprietor, who usually runs the club as a commercial enterprise. 'Members' of such a club have no right to any of the club assets and can only become members because the proprietor has decided to allow them to have access to the club premises.
Proprietary clubs do not necessarily always make a profit. Some clubs such as church social clubs may be run as proprietary clubs for convenience, with the minister or a parish official as the 'proprietor' and licence holder.
The main distinction between proprietary clubs and other clubs lies in the ownership of the assets. Where club assets are held by some private individual, not club members themselves, the club is recognized as a proprietary club by the law. A 'proprietor' is not necessarily one individual but may be, for example, a company or a partnership. This distinction may be blurred in the case of sports and social clubs attached to large companies, but generally the involvement