This is my report from the ECF Finance Council Meeting. If there are any errors let me know and I'll make the changes.
ECF Finance Council Meeting 2014.
There were roughly 50 attendants, with Mike Gunn chairing the meeting, as the ECF currently lacks a President.
The contentious issue of item 17, regarding Andrew Paulson, was moved up the order to item 5 (after matters arising), to enable the matter to be fully discussed before attendees got tired/ bored/ left.
One of the candidates for the currently vacant Commerical Director position was introduced. I believe she attended the meeting as a fact- finding mission. Later on in the meeting Phil Ehr stated that there was at least one other candidate for the role.
A few points of note that either came under matters arising or was mentioned somewhere around there at the start of the meeting:
• There was discussion, and also a bit of confusion, about the ECF Awards. Phil Ehr stated that a committee was in place and there was no good reason why the awards hadn’t been advertised to date. Stewart Reuben, who I believe is involved/ in charge of the awards, stated that there was no committee in place and he planned to wait until the end of the season to advertise the awards.
• There’s been no progress on the complaints procedure, but hopefully something will be ready to be adopted for the AGM in Oct.
• Stewart Reuben was disappointed that he was only listed as acting Manager of Seniors’ Chess on the website, and not outright manager. Phil Ehr apologised and assured Stewart it would be fixed.
• A motion was put forward that the ECF appoint a President within a month, and recommending Roger Edwards be appointed. Personally my feeling was that with some of the disasters the ECF has had in recent years with Presidents (Roger being the exception, in all fairness) it makes sense to take some time to re-evaluate the role and look to attract candidates nearer to or for the AGM. Therefore I voted against the motion. In the end the vote was 11 for, 20 against, and the motion was defeated.
• I also mentioned during the discussions about the Presidency that Jack Rudd has applied for the post.
• The registration scheme idea has been dropped. Too many things to do, not enough time to get them done was more or less the reason given. The relevant people are looking into alternatives.
The most controversial issue on the agenda, whether or not to give Andrew Paulson the proxy for the ECF’s ECU vote, was next, and proved surprisingly uneventful. I think Stewart Reuben was the lone voice to speak up in favour of the motion, with several delegates including Malcolm Pein and Nigel Short speaking against the motion. Andrew Paulson had the opportunity to speak last but there was somewhat of a hint that he realised even then that the motion wasn’t going to be passed.
The issue went straight to card vote. I cast most organisations’ votes against, with Somerset in favour. The final result was 79 in favour, 153 against, and 30 abstentions. So Nigel Short will cast the ECF’s vote at the ECU elections.
With the ECF accounts they showed the ECF had a surplus for the year of £11k, but that was taking into account a legacy of £12k, without which the ECF would probably be somewhere between break- even and a small deficit.
David Eustace was rightly praised for his work in preparing the accounts, and Malcolm Pein spoke highly of the membership scheme.
The collection of game fee by the ECF is improving. There’s still work to be done to get it to where it ideally should be, but its on the right path to get there.
For the 2014/15 budget a surplus of £21k is predicted, based on the previous Office Manager having resigned and John Philpott doing the work voluntarily. This will be a 1 year bonus though, as the plan is to appoint a new Office Manager.
An extra £4k was put in the international budget to allow for the fact that there are 2 international competitions in the financial year.
Its hoped the ECF’s reserves will be up to £72k by August ’15. It was suggested to transfer Permanent Investment Funds to bring the reserves up to £100k immediately (which is the ECF’s target level) and the Financial Director said he would take it under consideration.
The next item was the proposal to take £5,500 out of the expected surplus for 13/14 to ensure that the ECF can put out the strongest teams possible for the Olympiad. There was discussion about the women’s team, and how the funding is split between them and the open team. The International Director assured council that he would be aiming to fund as much as possible through sponsorship/ donations, and the £5,500 would only be a backstop in case it wasn’t possible to reach the amount needed that way. The Financial Director spoke against the motion, stating that at present the ECF has income of £140k, admin costs of £80k, and 60% of the remainder goes on international chess. The more money spent on international chess, the less there is for other areas, such as women’s chess, senior chess etc etc.
The motion was passed by a large margin- 28 in favour, 8 against.
The membership fees will be the same next year, as will the minimum membership fee for member organisations.
The proposal by Hastings Chess Club was next. It was commented and accepted that a large number of the people who would benefit from this were from Hastings Chess Club.
I voted for it on behalf of Somerset, against from other organisations, and on hand vote the motion was defeated 9 in favour, 29 against.
There was discussion about the board’s proposal to increase game fee by 25p. The Finance Director admitted it was hoped to phase out game fee by increasing it steadily over time. I personally think that the ECF should consult with organisations about game fee, and just make an outright decision whether to keep it or go pure- membership.
The vote came in 15 in favour of the price going up, 27 against. I voted for with most organisations, against for Somerset and Wiltshire Junior Congress. A card vote got called, and for reasons I didn’t really understand we were given an open choice on what price we’d like game fee to be, with median no. of votes winning. I’d have thought surely voting just on £2 or £2.25 would’ve made sense, but anyhow. Card votes came 9 votes for £1, 167 for £2, 74 for £2.25, 6 for £2.40, and 1 for £2.50. I used the votes mentioned above for either £2 or £2.25.
So long story short, game fee next season is staying at the same rate.
There was a discussion on the ECF’s work on charitable status. Truthfully a lot of the points made were of a financial nature that went way over my head. There’s been progress made in this area, and I have full trust in the people who are involved in the work on it, but I’m not sure I can provide much more information on this then to point you in the direction of the relevant people involved if you want more details.
There were the usual minor word changes to regulations etc, and a brief discussion about a paper Phil Ehr posted about the ECF.
Under Any Other Business I praised Keith Arkell’s European Seniors’ Championship success on behalf of Devon, and also proposed a vote of thanks to Sean Hewitt for his work as Non- Exec Director on behalf of Bristol. Angus French revealed that he has applied for the now- vacant NED role, and at least a couple of vote- holders spoke to endorse his candidacy.
And perhaps most surprising of all- the meeting finished early. Just before 18.00.