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 Post subject: ECF Finance Meeting '17
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 11:08 am 
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ECF Finance Council Meeting 2017.

The ECF (and BCF) Finance Council meeting took place on April 22nd in Birmingham. In a change to the usual schedule the BCF meeting was held before the ECF one (usually they take a short break in the middle of the ECF one to hold the BCF one). When I arrived around 20 minutes before the start of the ECF meeting the board were still looking for enough delegates to make the meeting quorate, and so myself and Roger Hardy (the WECU delegate) sat in and brought the meeting up to just enough people to ensure it could go ahead. I counted about 25 people at this point, with obviously quite a few more delegates en route from various parts of the country.

There was only one real motion to discuss on the BCF agenda. The ECF board have decided on a strategy of using some of the capital currently held in trusts etc to finance more ambitious plans going forward, and wished to have the option to use some of the capital from the John Robinson Youth Trust. The board felt that the trustees of the JRYT were only accepting requests for funding out of the income generated from it, and wished to use this motion to encourage the trustees to be prepared to authorise payments above and beyond the income generated as appropriate.

David Welsh (who is one of the trustees) spoke strongly against this. He felt that John Robinson intended for the Trust to donate £10k annually to the British Championships up to the point at which the funds dried out, and that this may be affected by being forced to lose a large amount of the capital in the Trust. He also pointed out that there was no similar motion on the ECF agenda for the Chess Trust that the ECF has established. There were several other valid points that he raised as well, but I haven’t noted them down.

Malcolm Pein then spoke on behalf of the board, and tried to reassure David. He stated that there was no threat to the bequest to the British Championships. He said that English chess was stagnating, and mentioned a specific junior (who he didn’t name) who had a tremendous amount of talent. Malcolm was frustrated that he wasn’t able to offer the likes of him/ her more support than at present. He said that the trustees needed to have trust in the board, it was necessary to draw in the capital to help develop English chess, and that they would only seek to occasionally spend more than the income generated by the trust, not run it entirely into the ground.

A couple of other delegates made comments in support of David Welsh, and then the vote came. On a hand vote it was 14 in favour, 7 against, and the motion passed. I voted in favour of the motion. If the trustees consider any requests for funding inappropriate, or not in keeping with John Robinson’s wishes they still have the power to refuse it, but if they in any way feel constrained to only approve funding requests up to the level of income generated by the trust, council has now encouraged them to feel free to approve appropriate requests above that level.

The only other thing to note is that the late Richard Hadrell has left a very sizable amount of his estate to the ECF in his will (somewhere in the region of £400k) which the ECF has decided to put into their Chess Trust.

And that was about it for the BCF Meeting.

The ECF meeting started around 1ish, and by this point more delegates had turned up (I think there was about 40 people in attendance now).

Most of the early items on the agenda passed by fairly swiftly. A few minor word changes to the minutes are all I’ve got notes for. 14.2 was changed from “approved” to “accepted in principle” and 14.2b (2) was changed from something like “motion approved” to “approval of request”. Other than that we pretty swiftly moved on to Matters Arising.

Amanda Ross spoke to council about the ongoing attempts to finance a Mindsports Centre in London. I think she may have intended for a motion to be put to the meeting as well, but it wasn’t possible to do so on the day. Amanda stated that there had been some changes on the ECF’s committee for this, and generally things hadn’t progressed much. The Go group (who were providing a fairly substantial amount by way of a legacy) are concerned that the ECF are unenthusiastic about the project, and there is a very real chance that the Go group may withdraw their support for this.

The London League representative then spoke, stating that he felt that there was too much on the agenda, and proposed deferring several financial items on the agenda to an EGM to be held in the next couple of months. The accounts are 20 months old, which makes it all but impossible to discuss financial matters such as the budget. The proposal was voted down with no-one but the London League representative in favour.

The ECF Finance Director stated that the accounts would not be ready for a couple of months. He had had permission from Companies House to delay submitting the account. The ECF was fairly stable as was their planned expenditure, and the budget was only for 17/18.

The next item was to consider a change to ECF membership, and specifically the game fee aspect of it. If you are a league official/ club secretary of a league I represent directly, I’m hoping you’ve already been provided with an email by me informing you of the changes. If not I can only apologise. For any league official/ club secretary/ ECF membership who I represented at the meeting by way of proxy, this is hopefully a pretty reasonable summary:

The revised schedule of rates, simplified as much as possible, is as follows:

FIDE Standard Play Rated Events: Gold ECF membership or higher: FREE or Others: Pay to Play fee of £10 per person (adult or junior)

Other Congresses: Silver ECF members or higher: FREE or Others: Pay to Play fee of £7 per adult (£5 per junior)

Other Adult Events: Bronze members or higher: FREE or Others: up to three games no charge; £16 per adult (£9.50 per junior) playing more than three games

Junior Only Congresses: Silver ECF members or higher: FREE or Others: Game Fee per result (half-game) of 60p Standard Play and 30p Rapid Play

Other Junior Events: Bronze ECF members or higher: FREE or Others: up to three games no charge; £15 per player playing more that three games

Note that pay-to-play rates are subject to revision in April as part of the general increase in membership fees.


More information on this can be found here:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... inal-1.pdf

and here:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... -No.-2.pdf

although note that these papers refer to a different fee, which was modified to instead be equal to the fee for Bronze membership. Also worth noting is that paying the fee does not make the person an ECF member.

If I’ve made any mistakes with the summary above let me know, but the long and the short is that unless leagues want big bills at the end of next season they need to be very vigilant with ensuring that non- ECF members don’t play more than 3 games, or if they do that they become ECF members. This comes in for next season.

The reason the Finance Director gave for doing this is that game fee is administratively expensive (as well as the cost of collecting game fee compared to the income raised from it, it also takes up a lot of time for the ECF office staff). The Membership Director added that the ECF wished to put the onus on leagues to chase up non- members rather than the ECF.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the proposed fee for non- ECF members who play more than 3 games. The original proposal was for the fee to be £25 for an adult and £15 for a junior. Several council members suggested it should have been capped at the level of bronze membership. The Membership Director seemed to be in agreement with this, but stated that the board was split in their decision on this. Mike Truran, the ECF CEO stated that having the fee higher then Bronze membership was intended to encourage people to become members of the ECF rather than paying the fee.

The proposed amendment to cap the fee at the level of Bronze membership was passed with 16 for, 11 against. I believe I voted for, but I didn’t note it down and not 100% sure on my memory of this one.

Amongst other points raised by council members:

“There ought to be incentives to encourage people to join the ECF earlier in the season”

“There ought to be fewer sticks and more carrots, and this proposal won’t increase goodwill to the ECF”

“There should be a late penalty payment”

“Is the fee cost neutral or intended as a penalty” (The ECF Financial Director answered “penalty”)

(From the ECF Membership Director) “Paying the fee wouldn’t make a person an ECF member. The fee will only be levelled at the end of the season. The ECF will send out reminders to leagues.”

The next item was to receive the report of the Finance Director and discuss the budget, membership and various other fees. A few notes I’ve got from these items (all the points were made by the Finance Director, I believe):

• The ECF is still trying to catch up the accounting work, and is hopeful of getting the accounts up to date in the next few months.
• A bookkeeping firm has been hired, and the accounting system is being computerised.
• The invoice procedure has become automated.
• A Womens’ Chess budget has been introduced, with the money take from the Home Chess Directorate.
• The ECF is paying more money for commentary for the British Championships, the new offices in Battle, the new bookkeeping firm, and the new company to provide company secretary work.
• The PIF trustees have agreed to give more money to the ECF.
• The late Richard Hadrell has left a substantial bequest to the ECF. It is intended for this money to be put in the Chess Trust, with most of the money to be spent on junior chess.
• The British Championships has more entries this year then at this point last year. The ECF is trying something different with the changes to the length of the Championships, and the changes to qualifying for next year. The ECF doesn’t know what will happen in terms of income etc from these changes. (Note the Home Chess Director wasn’t at the meeting, so the Finance Director stated this on his behalf).
• The 15/16 financial figures are slightly better then forecast.
• The ECF is to proceed with the Chess Library/ Office relocations. (There was some discussion on this). One council member was disappointed that the ECF went ahead with the relocation, feeling that council had rejected this option when it was presented to them 2 years previously. The ECF felt the situation had changed, that the priority for the relocation was the staff/ ECF office and the benefits for the Chess library were of secondary importance. The ECF CEO was also disappointed that when council members were contacted for their opinions on this only one replied (the member who raised this discussion at the meeting).
• The ECF had raised £75k in sponsorship over the previous year, and was aiming for £90k for the upcoming year.
• There was a suggestion that the Platinum membership could be broken down to Gold membership + a donation in order to negate the effects of VAT. I believe the ECF were to take this under advisement.
The financial items were all passed, with the only noteworthy vote being 4 people voted against the approval of the budget.

The next item was the One Member, One Vote item, discussing whether or not there should be a change in the voting system. There were 3 initial options: Option 1 was the introduction of pure One Member, One Vote (every ECF member gets a vote), Option 2 was to retain council as it exists at the moment, but with their representatives being voted for collectively by ECF members, and Option 3 was to retain council exists at present, but with an increased number of votes going to the Direct Member representatives.

Early on in the discussion the chair of the meeting said he wasn’t confident that either options 1 or 2 would gain enough support and felt that option 3 was the most likely to be approved, and so lead discussion towards that option. It was then felt that it was best to discuss the number of votes Direct Members’ representatives would potentially get before discussing whether or not option 3 would pass. So the discussion started there.

There were quite a few people who felt strongly about this on both sides. Some of the reasons given by various council members in favour:

“Direct Members’ representatives represent all ECF members, and so should have a greater proportion of the votes then they currently have (at the moment there are 10 Direct Member reps, 2 for each level of membership, each of whom have 1 vote each).”

“People would be more interested in volunteering to take on the work of Direct Members’ representatives if they felt they were able to have any real influence on behalf of the people they represent.”

And some of the reasons given by various council members against change:

“Of the 10 Direct Members’ representatives, only 3 were at the meeting, and several reps didn’t give any instructions to the people they represent. One of the member rep roles (Bronze) has been vacant for a significant period of time.”

“Direct Members’ representatives don’t represent the views of ECF members more accurately then their local ECF representatives.”

“When I send out consultations to the people I represent prior to meetings I get very few responses from ECF members. I think a lot of ECF members don’t really care about the ECF and changing the number of votes Direct Members’ reps get won’t change that.”

One point made that was neither in favour nor against was that there should have been 4 initial options (i.e. the option to retain council as at present should have been included).

The first vote was for the number of votes Direct Members’ representatives would potentially get (either 25% of the total or 50% of the total number of votes). I had 33 votes, with 9 in favour of 25% (Somerset, Bournemouth, Southampton, Dorset), and 1 in favour of 50% (Gold Members’ rep), with the rest abstaining. I don’t have the full results for this vote. I suspect that’s because option 3 didn’t pass, but if it was announced and I missed it I apologise.

The next vote was for which of the 3 options for voting reform to vote for. My votes were 2 for Option 1 (Somerset), 1 for Option 2 (Gold Members’ Rep), and 7 for Option 3 (Bournemouth, Southampton, Dorset). I also raised the point afterwards that if Options 1 or 2 were not there I would have cast Somerset and the Gold Members’ Reps votes for Option 3.

There was a bit of a lull in the meeting whilst the votes were being counted. As there wasn’t really anything else on the agenda that needed discussing after this item we were all left twiddling our thumbs somewhat whilst the votes were being counted. The most interesting thing to note here was the discussion about which pub to go to after the meeting, with Phil Ehr offering to buy everyone a drink.

The full results were:

Option 1 : For 12, Against 191

Option 2: For 15, Against 188

Option 3: For 119, Against 84, 1 abstention.

It should be noted that around a third of the total votes weren’t cast by representatives, who presumably weren’t at the meeting, didn’t appoint a proxy, and didn’t reply to the email giving their voting choices and appointing the chairman of the meeting as their proxy.

Unfortunately although Option 3 had a majority in favour (I think it was somewhere around 55%, give or take), the regulations require a 75% majority for it to pass. There was some discussion about this and how to progress from here, which largely went nowhere especially productive. I suspect to an extent the discussion was borne out by the fact the meeting was plainly going to finish remarkably early (it wasn’t even 5pm at this point, and usually the meetings go on quite a bit later). I’m not sure if the OMOV issue will come up again at a subsequent meeting, but I suspect it will do.

There was also some discussion about publishing voting records. I think some representatives weren’t comfortable with the fact that the Chairman was suggesting doing it for the OMOV vote after the vote had been cast, but voting records will be published for future meetings.

A quick note about why I cast my votes the way I did. Several Somerset members had mentioned to me either in the run up to the meeting or some time prior to that that they were in support of OMOV with each member getting a vote, so I cast their vote for Option 1. For the Gold Members’ rep vote I didn’t get any specific instructions, but felt it would be wrong to abstain. It’s not easy trying to consider how a whole class of membership would want you to vote on an issue, but I felt that they would be reasonably happy with Option 2. I know there are going to be some Gold Members who are going to be unhappy with me however I voted, but if you don’t contact your representative to give him your opinions on an issue, or don’t take issue when your representative doesn’t contact you, you can’t really complain if you feel your views aren’t being represented.

For the organisations whose votes I used for no change I received no instructions on this item, either from my efforts to contact clubs/ league officials directly, or from the voting representative if I was appointed as proxy. I don’t mind this, I can fully understand why people aren’t especially fussed about the ECF, and generally take it that if I don’t get instructions from the organisation (or representative where I’m acting as proxy) they are happy for me to use best judgement on their behalf. Nevertheless, I can’t support any reform to voting if no-one from the organisation wants it. If I’m wrong about this by all means let me know and I’ll happily support change in the future.

The meeting finished about 5.20pm, which actually gave us all time to head for the pub and a quick pint before heading back to various parts of the country. Definitely one of the better ECF meetings!


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