Track and Field Funding crisis deepens
Shock news from the BAL AGM
BAL AGM: The recent BAL AGM, held on the 10th November at Eton, presented BAL clubs with more evidence of the spiralling decline of a once proud sport. At this time of year the BAL usually has a clear picture of its finances and fixtures for the coming season. This year there are several areas of doubt.
In 2011 UKA provided funds of £27,750 to finance the UKA Challenge initiative operated by BAL. In 2012 this contribution dropped to £17,000 and so far no contribution has been allocated by UKA for 2013. As a result it appears that the UKA challenge will not take place in 2013. With this potential reduction in income BAL has taken steps to balance the books.
First of all the affiliation fee for member clubs has been raised from £300 to £450 per annum. In addition proposals were discussed to reduce Cup competitions in 2013. Poor support in 2012, (when several clubs failed to attend the Cup final and teams also missed the Plate final) led to the questioning of the worth of these events. Preliminary plans are to scrap all Cup competitions in 2013, subject to confirmation by a future F and GP committee. The hope is they can be re-introduced in 2014.
It was estimated at the AGM that the annual cost to the 38 member clubs of belonging to BAL was around £260,000.
NGB Problems: It would appear that UKA Ltd and England Athletics Ltd have major financial problems going forward? Several major sponsorships will end over the next few months and there is little sign of first tier or second tier sponsors coming forward. Add to this the likely reduction in Sport England funding for the period 2013-2017 and the financial prospects are bleak.
The recent controversial proposals by England Athletics to raise athlete Registration fees have been met with universal disapproval. To hope that the grass roots of the sport can be bled further is a big mistake. England Athletics will not get away with it and will have to capitulate or at the very least water down their proposals for increased charges.
Sport England: The Sport England four year funding cycle, based on the Olympic four year cycle, is one of the major contributing factors to the dire state of sport today. Every four years targets are set and thereafter are fixed in stone with no room for change. NGB’s obtain funding based on plans submitted to meet the Sport England targets. In the last four year cycle the key target was to increase participation in sport to 2 million. Ipsos Mori Poll studies were commissioned at huge cost (c£12million) to verify targets were met. Many questioned the validity of the four IM “Active People” surveys and sure enough earlier this year Government admitted the targets could never be met and scrapped them. The last four years has been a waste of time for a number of sports. In this year’s call for grant aid submissions Sport England completed a volte face and stipulated that it was not their plan to support hobbies. So once again nothing for grass roots sport.
So what will the next funding cycle concentrate on? The master plan is to provide funding to aid the retention of 14 to 25 year olds. This will entail providing huge sums directly to schools for them to create and retain sports people. Grass root sport has not been involved in the consultation process, which is surprising as clubs will need to be the key means by which 18 year olds and above are retained in a sporting environment. The future outlook for sport in general and track and field athletics remains bleak.
ABAC Comment: There is now no connection between grass roots athletic clubs and the NGB’s. Volunteers are quite rightly taking the view once made famous by the Boston Tea Party. “No taxation without representation”. Why should people give of their time when they have no voice at the top tables? The 1997 re-organisation of athletics and the disenfranchisement of volunteers has led to an inevitable disconnect. Coach, officials and athlete numbers have declined year on year.
The future for track and field is bleak. .