ECF Finance Council Meeting, 23/04/2022
Broadway Conference Centre, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NQ
12 individuals took part face to face and 25 by zoom, as far as I could tell.
The Yorkshire delegate seemed to be the only one from the Northern Counties.
(NCCU President and Silver DMR Tim Wall e-mailed apologies during the meeting.)
Many motions were passed nem con, only one vote being remotely close.
The 2020/21 accounts presented were (again) only draft. This is in line with the legal requirement that audited accounts be filed by 31st May 2022 (9 months after financial year end), but is not ideal for this April meeting, so the Chairman of the Finance Committee hopes to make it a 6-month target in future so that Council has finalised accounts.
This year, things were not critical as the financial position is far better than had been expected or hoped. 2020-21 outturn (income less expenditure) was a £18,797.82 surplus despite the budget being for a £5,110.00 loss. Membership income fell only to 90% of the previous year’s, despite the pandemic, which was unexpected and obviously welcome.
In recent pre-pandemic years there had been an expectation membership fees would have to go up for 2022-23, but in the event membership fees remain unaltered, but for an increase in game fee for FIDE-rated events which rises from £11 to £12 (because £11 was an error in the first place, it being intended to be the difference between Silver and Gold membership fees).
The budget managed to provide for some increases in expenditure: an extra £12,500 in the International budget “to enable modest support of norm tournaments and assistance with training for our most promising players”, and an extra £12,500 in the Women’s budget “to offer support for events and contribute to training for our most promising players.”
The budget was passed without serious demur.
A BCF Meeting, whose Council is smaller than that of the ECF and on the present attendance was only just legally quorate, was held part way through the ECF meeting and it voted to donate the remaining assets of the BCF’s permanently invested funds (PIF1 and PIF2) to the Chess Trust. The BCF will remain for a while in dormancy, lest people have left it anything in their wills. Long-term, the plan is eventually to wind up the BCF.
Part of the terms of these arrangements is that the Chest Trust holds a £100,000 emergency fund lest the ECF need it in the future. Provision for such emergency reserves consequently ceases to feature in the ECF budget.
The Chess Trust (a charity) is of course technically independent of the ECF, and its trustees can say “no” to any request from the ECF or from others; that depends on who the trustees are (currently ten in number, up from the five of four years ago).
It was acknowledged by the Finance Director that the application process for the Chess Trust (of which he is a trustee) should be made clearer.
Since the trustees of the vanishing BCF PIF funds currently have places on ECF Council and so on, a routine tidy-up amendment to the ECF’s legally defining Articles of Association, to remove the PIF trustees, was approved.
Making Council Meetings Public via the Internet
Whilst many acknowledged the virtue of the proposal to open up meeting to public view on the internet, judging the idea at the simplistic level of openness being a good thing, a number of people with knowledge of the field explained the practical dangers and potential problems this could create. The proposal was in the end defeated.
ECF Grading of Blitz Games
There has been an explosion in activity in “blitz” chess, and there was a set of proposals aimed at formalising the status of over-the-board blitz chess alongside stand-rate and rapidplay chess as regards grading, game fee, level of ECF membership required to avoid game fee (Bronze), and number of games allowed “free” (18). All passed.
Results from various events already played have been collated and will be built up further. When the collection of results is deemed to be sufficient for blitz grades to be calculated, the system will be launched, this currently being expected to be in the 3rd or 4th quarter (presumably of 2022).
Rolling ECF Membership
The bottom line is that introduction of rolling ECF Membership which lasts 12 months from when taken out or renewed rather than the present system with a fixed membership year running from 1st September to 31st March) was passed.
There were are pros and cons, the latter generally seeming minor relative to the pros. Some perceived problems are in fact reflected by corresponding theoretically possible problems with any system – e. g. however the membership end date is determined, there will be a congress which straddles that date.
Most potential problems with the basic idea relate to league chess as opposed to congress chess. The final rules have yet to be codified, but the writer’s own distillation of the effects on leagues of the plans as laid out is as follows:
* This does not address summer leagues running from say March to July (Sheffield & DCA Summer League, for instance), but I think that would still be handled as TWO game fee periods (the March to June bit and then the July bit) bundled with their respective July-to-June league game-fee periods. I don’t see any problem with this; confusion, yes, but actual problem, no.
** The blurb also includes any games played in 2023-24, but as I see it that reference is not actually needed.
were 4 proposals from the Governance Committee
One provided for bye-elections for DMRs quitting (before 1st March). Passed
One giving some written guidance on what is expected of DMRs, which hitherto was never defined, going some way to addressing recently expressed concerns. Passed
One requiring DMRs to be at the time of election ECF members of the class they represent. (They serve out their term if they change their own class mid-term, then they would have to step down if they have not changed back.) The initial “hand vote” (not representing how many votes a delegate commanded) was 13:11 in favour. This being close, a “card vote” (reflecting delegates’ differing numbers of votes held as per voting register) was held with the result 113:63 in favour. Passed
One providing that a person who is a Director at the time may not be elected a DMR, and further that if a person currently a DMR becomes a Director then they relinquish the DMR office at midnight of the day of election (so they can see out the end of a meeting they are attending at the time). Passed
The original proposal calling for resignation of the FIDE president was amended to reflect advice from the wise, becoming:
Although Dvorkevich has expressed disapproval of recent Russia activity in the Ukraine, he held high office in the regime which annexed Crimea which is part of Ukraine. As well as morally supporting the people of Ukraine and putting some pressure on the Kremlin due to the high profile of chess in Russia, having Dvorkevich as FIDE President was also seen as sullying the reputation of chess. Passed
A second proposal regarding practical ECF support for Ukraine and its people was reworded to reflect that the work was in fact already in progress. Passed
were 2 proposals addressing
One provided for mid-year changes affecting the Voting Register. The previous article meant that strictly it could not be changed for a year, though actual practice has been to make appropriate changes. Passed
One extended the deadline for appointing proxies. Passed
Future Council Meetings
Under Any Other Business there was informal discussion of the relative merits of purely face-to-face meetings, purely Zoom meetings and hybrid meetings (like this one). Many felt at least one of the two meetings in the year should be purely face-to-face. Venues suitable for hybrid meetings, with for instance microphones in the ceiling above those physically present, can be hard to find and expensive. Nevertheless, some delegates might attend only remotely by Zoom.
The person representing Greater Manchester, the MCCU and Silver Members ventured the idea that a venue in the North (or Manchester) might be cheaper, and also more delegates from the North might attend. (However, if they cannot attend by Zoom then they seem unlikely to travel either.) Given that representatives from the West of England CU has been conspicuous by their absence from recent meetings, they would be pushed even further into the cold. The East Anglia rep reckoned Birmingham, though inconvenient, was preferable to London for a face-to-face meeting.
(Pre-Covid face-to-face meetings followed the pattern London, London, Birmingham, Birmingham. Birmingham would be the venue for the next meeting on the president cycle.)
Yorkshire Delegate to ECF