ECF Finance Council Meeting, 24/04/2021
This duly took place via Zoom, and went largely as expected. My internet connection to the meeting got broken three times, though I got back into the meeting fairly rapidly each time. Others seem to have had similar problems.
Annual Membership Fees (from Bronze through to Platinum) remain the same. There seemed no suggestion from any quarter that they should be increased or decreased. It should perhaps be note that “Supporter” status is not a form of Membership per se, and the Supporter fee is set by the Board, not Council. Membership fees are tentatively expected to rise for 2022/23.
Restructuring of Inter-County Competitions as regards rating limits for sections below the Open was left unresolved. The fact that besides the Board’s own proposal, two proposed amendments had also been slipped in at the last minute, and shortage of time meant the topic was deferred to a later consultation among counties and unions. Subsequently, a Zoom meeting has been arranged for 08/05/2021, to which council delegates only of counties and unions are invited. That means YCA’s invitation has been sent to me (Steve Mann), but somebody else can be nominated instead of the Council delegate, and it seems more appropriate for a captain to attend rather than myself, provided they are able to participate in Zoom meetings of course. Captains have been e-mailed regarding this.
All three options which have been proposed involve a reduction from 6 sections to 5. The three sets of bandings (equivalent grades in parentheses) are as follows.
Option 3 seems to most closely correspond to the original structure, coinciding at Open, U2050/180 and U1450/100 levels. However, Options 1 and 2 use “rounder” numbers.
Accounts for 2019/20 were presented only in draft form, apparently due to lateness in returns.
For the present year, 2020/21, a final £5,110 deficit is forecast, but a deficit of nearly £40,000 would have resulted if the government furlough scheme not been taken up for office staff. Paradoxically reserves are likely to rise slightly from £45,763 to £51,962 (£38,208 of which is in permanently invested funds), which is explained by the fact that some 2020/21 expenditure will be pushed into 2021/22, most notably the Olympiad. Thus the Olympiad and European Championships will fall in the same financial year.
This means the outcome for 2021/22 is budgeted to be a deficit of around £32,000. Liquidity is hoped to be maintained by getting a “loan” from the permanently invested funds, which requires approval of the trustees of course. (Some people seem to think these funds are “owned” by the ECF, which is not the case.)
The Finance Director, Adam Ashton, thanked those members who had renewed their membership, despite being inactive as players. The sentiment was echoed by the Chief Executive, Mike Truran.
The usual “Budget and Management Accounts” spreadsheet was produced, with the usual summary sheet and six more-detailed sheets representing five individual directorates or other areas. Usually, each sheet shows budget and final outcome for one or more previous years, and tentative budgets for two future years. For the current year (2019/20 in this case) it has been customary to show budget, actual to date, and forecast final outcome. This time the current year’s budget was omitted, perhaps being deemed irrelevant in present circumstances, but this seems to have led to an error in the formula in cell G64 (which is F64 + G60 but should be E64 + G60), resulting in an incorrect forecast of the forecast reserves held at the end of 2020/21. A new Finance Director started in 2019/20, and it is easy to see that getting oneself tuned into the customary way of doing things could be onerous and time-consuming, and such errors may slip in.
Budget for 2021/22
The meeting approved a budget, which was obviously based of guesswork as to how the effects of the pandemic would develop. Somewhat paradoxically, the meeting then approved a request from the Board for an Authority of Variation: THAT the Board may revise the budget in the light of circumstances as they develop during the summer period and beyond, bringing such revisions before future Council meetings as shall be practical.
Directors’ Tenure of Office
At an earlier, the NCCU had made a proposal whereby a non-binding principle expressed in the Pierce Report would be incorporated into the rules (strictly Articles) to make it binding. At that meeting the Board requested that the matter be shelved, whie the Governance Committee ponder the subject.
In the event the Governance Committee came up with three proposals (taken in turn) to cater for different views as to how (if at all) Directors’ tenure of office should be limited. Since these proposals would need a minimum 75% of votes cast, having three options to choose from could be seen as severely limiting the chances of any one receiving the 75% majority! One delegate involved in the initial proposal seemed to take issue which the Governance Committee overcomplicating the matter (and I can see his point), and the committee’s chairman (for whom I personally have respect) took exception to this. This was at least a change from a Director standing up and walking down the room to accuse a member of the meeting of lying!
Predictably, none of the proposals received the required majority, but the doughty committee chairman said they would have a further look at addressing the matter.
The number of votes held by an organisation is determined by the number of results submitted for grading (now rating) in the previous season, with a minimum of 1 irrespective of grading submissions. This means that, as things stood, many organisations would hit the minimum 1 vote after a chess-free 2020-21. Even for this meeting, the curtailment of the 2019-20 Yorkshire League had reduced Yorkshire’s votes from the usual 3 to 2. The meeting approved the proposal that for 2021-22, organisations votes would be their highest from the September 2019 register, the September 2020 register, and a September 2021 register compiled according to the normal rules. For most this would be the September 2019 register.
Voting Rights Derived from Rated On-Line Chess and Blitz Chess
Currently, a graded/rated (over-the-board) standard-rate game earns 1 point for the organiser’ total on which voting rights are based, while a graded/rated (o-t-b) rapidplay game yields ½ a point. The proposal was to include graded/rated (o-t-b) blitz games giving a sixth of a point, and further to include graded/rated on-line games at half the o-t-b points (half, quarter and twelfth respectively).
The third break in by internet connection occurred just before the voting, but it seems an initial hand vote (paying no attention to how many votes each voter carried) was only narrowly in favour, and so a full “card vote” was taken, and the proposal was passed by 125 to 35.
It was agreed that the question of whether the next meeting, on 16 October 2021, is in London or by Zoom will be left to the Board to decide in the light of circumstance nearer the time.