Year Book 2018-19 Contents
ECF Finance Council Meeting, 27/04/2019
On 27/04/2019 I attended the English Chess Federation's 2019 Finance Council Meeting in Birmingham, as YCA delegate (3 votes) and Doncaster Congress delegate (1 vote). I also carried the proxy from the Leeds ECL (3 votes). I cast all seven votes the same way on a given matter, being guided primarily by the few replies received to my e-mail seeking guidance on how to vote. Thanks to those who replied. I assume those who did not reply (and those they represent) were abstaining, and were quite happy with any possible outcome from the meeting. In short: [Also, below, Have Your Say in Future, and In More Detail]
1. The NCCU proposal for limiting membership-fee increases to the amount of inflation was DEFEATED (I voted FOR).
2. The Bronze/Silver Rep proposal to cap ECF contribution to International spend was DEFEATED (I voted FOR).
3. The Board proposal on 2019/20 membership fees was PASSED (I voted AGAINST).
4. The proposal on mandatory women players in county teams was DEFEATED (I voted AGAINST).
The “indicative” vote on 2020/21 fees was dropped.
The proposed budget for 2019/20 was approved. I abstained, as having opposed the structure of the income and the structure of the expenditure, to vote on the budget for me was somewhat meaningless. And what would happen if the budget was rejected??
Membership and other fees for the new season are therefore as follows (with existing rates shown for comparison):
Have Your Say in Future (or go back to sleep)
The Yorkshire, Leeds, Bradford and Hull leagues already have votes as ECF member organisations, and all the other local leagues in Yorkshire need to become member organisations (at no extra cost*) so that they too have votes in future. The Doncaster and Scarborough Congresses similarly have voting rights, and other Yorkshire Congresses could similarly become ECF member organisations (at no extra cost*) and have a say in ECF affairs.
(* The current Organisation Membership fee is £60, going up to £64 for 2019/20, but that is only payable if the organisation does not submit enough games for grading, which is a minimum in the order of 30 games, so even Harrogate would be exempt from paying. Nevertheless, you need to apply to the ECF for membership, and then get approved by the Board.)
In More Detail:
Before voting on the Board's proposals on fees, the motions on capping fees, and capping expenditure on international activity were considered.
The NCCU's proposal was split, as the two elements were differently favoured by some people, and they are not really interconnected.
The capping of membership fees to the level of inflation failed a hand vote (which ignores the number of votes a person holds) by 11 for and 19 against. This then went to a card vote (necessitating tellers disappearing to count up the votes), which was 93 for and 190 against.
The idea of pursuing trust funds for money was a widely regarded as somewhat pointless, as the ECF always tries to get as much money as it can from such sources. That too was defeated.
The proposed £30k cap on ECF funding for international activity (over and above any sponsorship and donations) was defeated 10 for and 18 against on a hand vote, then 63 for and 230 against on a car vote.
As regards proposals of new levels of fees, the indicative vote was dropped as many thought the validity of assumptions in membership levels etc had yet to be demonstrated, and that would guide the 2020/21 budget, once it was known.
There was an attempted amendment to make the proposed new Platinum membership fees higher, apparently to level up the increase percentages, and two Board members who are Platinum members agreed with the idea. The amendment was defeated, for reasons which evade me, on a hand vote, and the initially proposed 2019/20 fees were then approved, as was the budget for 2019/20.
The ECF Board's reasons for seeking more money and spending more money were firstly the “Challenges to English Chess” presented at the previous meeting, and more specifically continuing the recent successes in international chess, promoting the new “Chess Academy” to advance promising juniors, greater activity in women's chess, and so on.
Many from the floor articulated the theory that most Bronze members only want a grade and expect nothing else of the ECF, and are hardly aware of England's international successes, and do not look to top English players as “role models” as they do not aspire to the same sort of heights. The International Director did not react well to this, dismissing claims of those who had conducted surveys for the purpose of the meeting, and handling himself in a way which seemed more likely to lose support than gain it.
The Council Meeting is normally preceded by a Board Meeting. One imagines there are significant differences of opinion among board members (in some earlier meetings this has not been wholly hidden), that the official line to be followed in the Council Meeting is determined, that it is agreed which Board members will promote that official line in the Council Meeting, and that those who disagree undertake to keep quiet in the Council Meeting.
When one arrives at the venue, while the Board Meeting is in progress, and then when the Board members eventually emerge, one gets a strong sense of a council of war having been in progress and then having just concluded. The Council Meeting then feels very much like “them” (the Board) and “us” (the floor), a feeling magnified by the manner of some Board members during the meeting.
The proposal regarding a mandatory female in Open teams in the English Counties Championship received much criticism. All those speaking on the feasibility of fielding female players, including myself for Yorkshire, said research had shown apprpriate females were not available. To address the problems arising from defaults and players not getting opponents as a result, an amendment was proposed saying any team (in any section) fielding one or more females would get an extra point. The voting got more interesting at this point. The proposal was passed on a hand vote by 14 to 11, and the chairman felt a card vote was not indicated, yet a card vote was forced from the floor, and that went 88 for and 94 against, with 34 abstentions. Thus there was a rare reversal of a hand vote by a card vote, and there were also a very high number of abstentions. A humorous observation made on female participation in chess was that the ECF could get a female Director for Women's Chess – true, and some might say significant in various ways!
On a more abstruse level, the question was raised as to whether a county submitting no grading results for grading (e.g. one without its own league etc) should be invoiced for the £60 organisation membership fee. It was suggested Lancashire was one such county, though those putting the question on the agenda didn't seem clear on the matter. It seems charges which should have been made have for some reason been neglected recently. The feeling was that they should pay, which is logical enough, that currently being the rule.