Impact of Covid on ECF Finances
Papers published ahead of the 2021 ECF Finance Council Meeting on 24/04/2021 include the traditional Budget and Management Accounts spreadsheet, which affords hours of fascinating reading. It can be found at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/C34.6b-Budget-and-Management-Accounts-Spreadsheet.xls. It should be read in conjunction with the Finance Director’s report which can be found at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/C34.6-Finance-Directors-Report.pdf.
The Covid pandemic has virtually eliminated organised over-the-board chess, meaning many players elected not to renew their ECF membership for 2020/21, on the logical basis that there was no benefit for them. Nevertheless, others renewed their membership essentially by way of a donation, to keep the ship afloat. Indeed, there was an increase in the number of adult platinum members, suggesting some upgraded their renewal by way of a donation. Also, there was an increase in the Supporter category (not regarded as a category of “Membership” sensu stricto) from 250 to 506, which may reflect some not renewing membership but becoming Supporters by way of a donation.
Combining all categories of Members with Supporters, there were 7,467 people at 24/02/2021, which is 60% of the total of 12,414 at the end of 2019/20. The forecast income from membership and supporter fees at the end of 2020/21 is £121,710, which is 60% of the £203,617 total for 2019/20.
As regards income from Game Fee (charged to organisers), the somewhat nebulous forecast for income at the end of 2020/21 is £1,000, which is 5% of the £20,549 total for 2019/20. (Such income depends on the number of graded OTB events occurring from now to 31st August 2021, which depends on Covid-restriction easing and the response of organisers and players.)
The Membership Directorate accounts encompass membership administration, grading administration, monthly-grading development, and various types of FIDE-related items, so the overall Directorate summary totals tell little on their own.
A welcome result of the pandemic, as far as the ECF 2020/21 accounts are concerned, was the deferment of the OTB European Team Championships to 11-22 November 2021, which pushes that major item of expenditure into the 2021/22 accounts which are also due to contain the 45th Olympiad running from 1st to 14th August 2022.
International Directorate Expenditure usually results in an annual net spend (loss) of about £40,000 on average. That said, the ECF has relatively recently appointed a Manager of Sponsorship for International Chess (Satish Gaekwad).
The forecast bottom line of the accounts for 2020/21 is a loss of £5,110, which would have been more like a loss of £40,000 without government furlough support, and donations.
Running the office, with salaries, rent and insurance etc, is an item of expenditure which dwarfs all else, and, once it is possible to relocate the ECF library to Leicester University, it is planned to slim down that area of expenditure by having a physically smaller office, working from home perhaps, and so on.
Membership Fees for 2021/22 and Game Fee
The Board proposes these remain as they have been in 2020/21 and 2019/20 before that, though a Board request for 2022/23 increases is expected.
As YCA delegate to the ECF I plan to attend the 24th April (Zoom) meeting, but will not be sending out an e-mail seeking direction from club secretaries and captains on how to vote on the proposal to keep fees the same, but people are free to express any views on the matter. (I currently propose to vote for fees staying the same, as alternatives are very difficult to justify.)