Single-Rate ECF Membership
The ECF Board asked the ECF Council Finance meeting of 22/04/2023 to suggest the best two alternatives for them to consider as possibly preferable to the present ECF membership structure. (See here for the pdf paper presented on the subject.) This was not a Council vote on what the best membership system was, though obviously there is a connection. Of the alternatives listed by the Board, the two picked by Council were a “single-rate” system (as opposed to the present multiple “metallic” levels of membership) and the merger of the present Silver and Gold levels. There seemed to be roughly equal support for the single-rate as for retention of the present system, so the relative minor Silver-Gold merger may be seen by the Board as the least divisive as support was less polarised.
Curiously, the request from the Board and the discussion by Council seemed limited to qualitative principles without any quantitative consideration of what resultant membership rates might be as compared with the present ones.
A question which surely must arise is, “How much would a single-rate ECF membership be?”.
In the table below, the figures in column A are those listed as forecast membership levels for 2024/25 in the Excel spreadsheet carrying details of the accounts. The figures in column B are the membership rates the Board is expected to request for 2024/25 if the present system is retained. Column C shows the implied amount of income at each level, in the event of no change to the membership structure. The “totals” row shows the predicted total number of members in 2024/25 and the implied total income resulting. Dividing the latter by the former gives the single rate, £23.84, which would yield from the same income from the same number of members. It is assumed that “Supporters” would not be seen as in scope of this levelling exercise.
Of course, it assumes the projected member numbers are reasonably accurate. More importantly the above table fails to take into account that
1) the Board would probably want to retain the Platinum level (primarily one incorporating a donation, perhaps renamed “Patron”),
2) the Board’s proposal seemed to suggest it would hope to retain discount(s) for juniors, which would make a significant difference.
“Single Rate” thus seems to mean merger of Bronze, Silver and Gold to give a three-level membership system: Platinum, Adult and Junior.
It is assumed for present purposes that the Platinum rate would be retained as at present at £75 for both adults and juniors.
The discount for juniors at lower “metallic” levels is less easy to guess, as in the existing system they pay 50% of the adult rate at Gold level, and 25% of the adult rate at Silver level. Seeding a calculation with a Junior rate of 33.33% of the Adult Junior rate gives £28 as the nearest whole-number adult rate which generates total income from the present “metallic” categories as near as possible to a “target” of the above £341,164. The Junior rate, however, comes out at £9.33, which cries out to be rounded up to £10 (£35.7% of the adult £28 rate) or down to £9 (32% of the £28 adult rate). In the following table, the Junior rate is treated as 35.7% of the Adult rate as more juniors are currently paying at a higher rate, and of course it’s tidier.
Thus, a “single-rate” ECF membership system introduced in April 2024 for the 2024/25 financial year would probably mean adults were charged something like £28 and juniors £10.
Why the Change?
(if there is one)
The Board’s main reason for suggesting a change in the membership structure is said to be a belief that there should be more FIDE-rated chess but that the present membership structure inhibits this. English players’ FIDE ratings are allegedly less accurate than those in, say, France and Spain. Supposedly, improving juniors cannot find enough FIDE-rated events to play in and so have lower FIDE ratings than reflects their current strength with the result that adult players playing such juniors have their FIDE ratings “dragged down”.
One cannot help wondering how much clarity there is in this. Players who want to be FIDE-rated will be active players whose level of activity necessitates a reasonable level of affluence and therefore probably have a readiness to pay a higher membership rate to enable play in FIDE-rated events. In that case the ECF arguably should be facilitating the organisation of FIDE-rated events rather than altering the membership system. Despite comments made at the finance meeting, many organisers are in fact deterred from incorporating FIDE rating in their events by the extra and more restrictive requirements, not to mention costs.
This could lead to bitter polarisation between supporters of the status quo and advocates of a “single rate” model like the one above. So, it seems the Board may end up pushing for the merger of Silver and Gold (“Electrum”).
Levelling Silver and Gold membership fees so as to maintain the same income as the existing system, after rounding, and keeping everything else the same, gives the following.
Thus, merging Silver and Gold ECF membership would probably mean adults were charged something like £34 and juniors £11 for the merged Silver-Gold category, if other categories remained the same as they would with “no change”.
If you look at cells G12 and G64 of the “Membership” sheet in the Excel Budget Spreadsheets presented to the April Finance Meeting, you will see the forecast income for 2024/25 for all membership categories to be £285,986.67 rather than the above-used £341,164. “Why the difference?”, you may ask. The answer is that the £285,986.67 is calculated on VAT-exclusive sub-totals. Members have to pay also the VAT element. That £285,986.67 translates, after adding VAT, to £343,184, which is the above-used £341,164 with the Supporters’ £2,020 added on. QED (standing either for Quod Erat Demonstrandum being Latin for “that which was to be demonstrated” or, if you prefer, “Quite Easily Done”).