Year Book 2019-20 Contents
Calendar of Events – Results/Reports
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ECF Finance Council Meeting
The ECF Finance Council Meeting originally due to take place in April, eventually took place on Saturday 18th July 2020, by Zoom. A practice run to provide familiarisation with Zoom, and with the voting mechanisms to be used, had been held on July 9th.
There were of course the tedious things like approval of minutes and the 2018-19 accounts, but the raisons d’être of the meeting were the fixing of fees and approval or otherwise of the proposed budget – for 2020-21.
The main problem of course is that nobody has the slightest idea when, and how extensively, over-the-board chess might be able to resume. That means the number of players taking out ECF membership for 2020-21, and hence the associated income which might be incorporated into the budget, cannot be predicted with any hope of accuracy.
On membership fees and game fee (for grading non-members), the Board was asking that these remain the same, although 12 months ago they were planning an increase for 2020-21. This was approved by the meeting, it being difficult to justify either an increase or a decrease. Membership fees thus remain as before, though the Board had proposed the Supporter fee (which is not a “membership” fee) should increase to £10:
For the purposes of the budget, the main guess was that 70-or-over players would not renew membership. Some of course might renew, but they were guessed to be counterbalanced by under-70s who also chose not to renew. The highly nebulous figures used to guess the 2020-21 membership income were as follows:
Income from membership fees normally represents very roughly 50% of total income, varying from year to year.
A proposed budget had been drawn up, and this was based on a 21% loss in income, and a 25% reduction in expenditure. This budget was approved, in the knowledge that nobody really knew what would actually happen.
For the latter reason, the Board was also asking for Council’s permission to vary the budget. This seems expedient in the circumstances, though some were uneasy about the idea. Others felt the wording was too open ended; the word “bringing such revisions before future Council meetings as shall be practical” could mean Council was advised after the event. A proposed amendment to limit the duration of this permission to the period up to the AGM (in October) was seconded by too people (including the writer), but, after the traditional display of righteous indignation on the part of certain board members, the proposer withdrew the amendment on the basis of assurances that the Board could be trusted not to do anything too silly. Hmmm.
The Board was accordingly given carte blanche to vary the budget according to emerging circumstances.
The subject of how over-the-board chess might be able to resume was given some airing. In this connection, Tim Wall has already circulated ideas on “hybrid chess” in which players gather at a local venue (e.g. their usual club venue) and play on-line chess against a similar group of opponents elsewhere. A valid point made in connection with the resumption of OTB chess was that circumstances vary from place to place; thus the Blackburn-Darwin-Bury is in danger of a second lock-down as experienced by Leicester. (Similarly, parts of South Yorkshire are high in the national table of Covid-19 infection levels.)
As YCA delegate to the ECF, I attended this meeting, voting for fees remaining the same, accepting the budget, and voting for Board freedom to vary the budget. I had expressed my voting intentions to YCA officials, giving them the opportunity to direct me differently, but I met with no disagreement (no agreement either!). I had not on this occasion consulted YCA club representatives, since the rate of reply is usually very low, and the local leagues which could have taken out their own organisation membership of the ECF at no charge (due to submitting results for grading) to enable them to exercise their own votes had not done so.
Douglas Vleeshhouwer also attended, on behalf of the Hull & DCA, but Leeds CA and Bradford & DCA were neither represented nor appointed a proxy, and the other local leagues are not even ECF members. Those who do not engage with the democratic process can hardly complain at anything which happens at these meetings!!