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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:42 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:16 pm
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ECF Finance Council Meeting.

This is my report on yesterday’s (13th) ECF Finance Council Meeting. If there are any errors let me know, and I’ll correct it as soon as possible.

Firstly, just to get it out the way, a bit of a rant. Far too much time at the minute was spent on ridiculously inane discussions on the wordings of various items (“Should it be closed congress or individual event?” or something along those lines, is one example), which prevented meaningful discussions on a lot of the more important issues that were later on the agenda. A good number of the ECF Board members seemed either greatly annoyed or exasperated by this at various points, and I have to say I shared their feelings. Special mention should be given to the Director of Home Chess (Alex H) and the NCCU, who have had motions regarding county chess deferred at a number of meetings now because there just hasn’t been time at the end to discuss them and reach a decision.

Anyway… there were just under 40 people attending the meeting by my estimate. Less then the AGM, but that’s understandable.

There was one adjustment made to the minutes of the previous meeting, with the FIDE Delegate’s report in the minutes being taken away to be adjusted. Otherwise they were approved.

With charitable status the Finance Director was hopeful of having a proposal in place for October, ready to be implemented in ’14, but there are still a great no. of hurdles in place before we get there.

As a side note, with charitable status there would be no VAT payable on membership fees, so the ECF would receive the full amount, as opposed to the fees -VAT as at present.

A few comments from delegates on this matter:

“There may be potential legal issues with requiring membership of both the professional body and the separate amateur chess body.”

“It may be worth giving solely junior chess charitable status”

There was also a comment from a delegate along the lines that an alternative may be for the ECF (the professional body) to raise money for Chess England (the amateur body). I didn’t entirely understand this one, which is why the above is about as clear as mud in my attempt to explain it (finance isn’t exactly my forte), but the Finance Director thought it was a reasonable idea.

With matters arising there were two main points raised:

Firstly, regarding the junior chess incident in Austria from a while back. At the AGM it was stated that the ECF had been informed that at least one party intended to take legal action regarding the issue. There has been no further news regarding the legal side of things. The ECF is fully prepared to mount a defence if any action is forthcoming, but thus far none has. There is a 6 year statute of limitations on any potential action.

On the same matter the Austrian (I can’t remember if it was the organisers of the event, or the chess federation, or if they are one and the same) asked the ECF for information regarding disciplinary measures that had been taken against the people involved. There is no formal disciplinary action the ECF can take, although they can decide who is or is not invited to be a part of future junior events with the ECF.

The other matter regarded former ECF President CJ De Mooi. At the AGM council instructed the board to investigate whether or not CJ performed his duties on behalf of the ECF at the Olympiad, and whether or not he justified the fee/ expenses that were paid to him. The investigation believed that he didn’t fulfil his duties, he shouldn’t have been paid, but that the chances of getting back the amount paid was negligible.

Next up was current waivers in the ECF Membership Scheme.

The Corporate Vice President membership option, which it is no longer possible to purchase, was taken up by several groups prior to the new membership scheme being introduced at the start of this season. The intention is for it to be ended entirely as and when the groups’ memberships run out, with the last believed to be July ’14.

There was a lot of discussion regarding Welsh chess players in the Cheshire and North Wales and Wirral leagues. At present any WCU members in these 2 leagues is made a bronze ECF member, in respect for games being graded, for free. This will change for next season to any WCU member who plays for a club in Wales (not if they play for a club in England) and plays in cross border leagues being automatically given Bronze membership until July ’14, pending review. The ECF board have been mandated to open discussions with the WCU, with the intention of having a proposal in place in 12 months time.

Several other waivers were approved (I believe they were matches organised by the English Braille/ Deaf Chess Associations don’t require membership/ game fee, fillers don’t incur game fee, 4NCL wildcards don’t require Gold Membership, players in all FIDE- Rated Leagues except 4NCL can play 1 game without having to be a Gold member, and 1 other which I’ve forgotten).

A delegate brought up several membership issues: at present FIDE- Rated rapidplays only require Silver membership, what level of membership is required for junior- only FIDE- Rated events, what happens regarding membership of Congresses that fall between 2 membership years, and juniors who play in several junior only- events and pay junior game fee aren’t upgraded to Silver membership even if there payment exceeds the amount they would have to pay to become silver members. The acting Director of Marketing promised to publish clarification on these on the ECF Website, and any membership waivers that were missed from the list should be addressed to the DoM and can be discussed at future meetings.

During the break the BCF meeting took place. I missed a good deal of this, owing to slipping out for a good portion of the break, but caught the tail- end of it.

A proposal to hold the BCF meeting at the start, rather then during the break in the middle of the ECF meeting, was defeated. This stemmed (I believe) from the BCF meeting not taking place during a previous ECF meeting owing to it being forgotten about.

The Finance Committee Chairman report was accepted pretty much instantly (even at this point it was clear we were going to run short of time).

It’s hoped that a business plan will be produced for the next meeting.

The International Director spoke about his enthusiasm for the national teams, and wanting to see them back challenging for medals. He wanted to see a change in attitude from “we’ll send the best teams if the ECF can afford it, and if not we’ll send who we can” to a greater desire to send teams with the best 4 male/ female players in English chess. As such he spoke of a need to have a larger budget and attract more donations/ sponsorship. The motion was voted through.

The next item was the budget for the coming 14 months (as a result of the ECF changing its financial year). A few points I noted from the budget reports and from comments made by the various ECF Directors:

Currently there are 9226 ECF members in the various categories, and the ECF is hopeful of a slight increase next year.

The budgeted figures are considered conservative, and the ECF is confident of at least matching those figures.

It is not intended to produce any further printed grading lists, but a PDF file of all ECF grades will be made available online to download, twice yearly.

A women’s championship is going to take place, and is expected to break- even with sponsorship/ donations.

The ECF is considering bringing the British Blitz event “in house” and run on a break- even basis.

The ECF is sending the largest team of juniors ever to the World Schools event in Greece. Unfortunately next year’s event is in Peru, and the larger costs involved will probably mean it’s less popular with parents, and so its likely there will be a smaller team going there.

Two donations were received. £7,500 from Martin Hawley has been used to cover the venue cost for the British Champs at Torquay, whilst there has been another donation of £10,000.

The international budget will be significantly larger, owing in part to the aspirations to send the strongest ECF teams possible to team events, but mostly because both the Olympiad and the European Team Championships take place next year. In ‘14/15 neither of these 2 events take place, and so the budget will be much smaller. It’s also hoped to offset a good deal of the costs involved with the English Teams through donations/ sponsorships.

The ECF is looking to invest its cash reserves more widely, and so has budgeted a much larger figure for interest.

The increase in the rent and rates cost is owing to the ECF not paying service charges on the Office in the past 18 months, which has now been noticed.

The budget was noted, and it was on to the discussion about membership fees for the upcoming year.

A delegate asked what would happen if membership fees went up by £1 across the board, to which the acting DoM stated that there would be an increased revenue of £9600 less VAT.

Another delegate proposed membership rates of £14 Bronze, £20 Silver, £30 Gold, £63 Platinum. This was soundly defeated and soon afterwards it was largely unanimously agreed to keep membership fees as they are for the upcoming year.

Item 11 about minimum membership fees for Membership Organisations was passed pretty swiftly, and Item 12 (leaving game fee unchanged) was passed with a slight change in wording.

The budget was adopted.

The next item was about registering events prior to them being run. A couple of points the Director of Home Chess made were that 14 days notice is required for events and internal club events can be registered either through the club or their county (I’m not sure if that can be through a league in respect for Bristol, as either the DoHC didn’t mention it or I didn’t note it down. I imagine so, but I’ll ask and get a definite answer).

The start date for each year may be changed from 1st Sept, but the date wasn’t included in the proposal either way.

There are plans for a new officer, reporting to the DoHC, to take on administering this.

Then came the voting, which was either for going on to the next business (and skipping a vote on the registration scheme) or against (and not). I’m not sure why they didn’t have a vote on approving the registration scheme in the first place, but it caused a bit of confusion. The first hand vote came back 13-11 for next business, a re-count 18-11 against. After that a hand vote came, 17-8 for approving the registration scheme, and eventually a card vote 130-48 in favour of the scheme. I voted ‘for’ with Devon, Torbay, Wiltshire, Wiltshire Junior, and Bristol, and was asked to, and did, vote ‘against’ with Somerset.

The next item was regarding the complaints procedure. The past CEO had a point read out on his behalf stating that the believed the complaints procedure should be kept, and that a flawed complaints procedure was better then none at all. The current Chairman of Governance disagreed.

A delegate said that the problem was that at present the board deals with complaints about board members. The ECF needs to publish a statement on what they intend to do and what they intend to do about complaints in the meantime.

I’m not sure if it the complaints procedure was removed or not, as by this point the meeting was very much in blitz- finish mode.

Sadly, the county issue was deferred again owing to lack of time. Which I guess means things just stay as they are for the upcoming county season. It’s an important issue and merits discussion, and hopefully at one of these meetings, eventually, it may be possible to do so.

Likewise items 18 and 19 weren’t mentioned. It was confirmation of the venue for the AGM, and Any Other Business (of which I assume there was none).

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