Article prepared by ABAC and displayed on the ARC website
with the kind permission of ABAC.

 

REGISTERING  WITH ENGLAND ATHLETICS?   March 07

 

Introduction

In early March England Athletics (EA) issued its 'Affiliation Guidelines' stating that it '. requires the registration of a club and its members'.  The initial affiliation fee for each club is 50 with an additional 3 fee for 'each competing member aged 11 or over'.  The latter fee will rise to 5 in 2008 and further increases are likely in future years to pay for the staffing and other costs involved in operating the undemocratic bureaucracy that is England Athletics.

 

Many clubs are seeking guidance on how to approach this demand for their money and information about their members.  Ultimately the decisions must rest with clubs and their members but ABAC wish to assist this process by setting out the options available to clubs.

 

To affiliate or not?

Many clubs, particularly the smaller road running clubs, will be considering the pros and cons of affiliating to EA.  The costs to all clubs will be greater than their previous affiliation to the Territorial Associations with the increase to 5 per member already being introduced in 2008.  Who knows what the costs will be after that, with the huge expense of running the EA Regions to be met?  Reliable estimates have placed the cost at 40 per athlete. In Scotland it is currently 22 per registered athlete.

 

Understandably many clubs will be asking what they get from affiliation to EA.  Automatic insurance for EA permitted events is often cited as a benefit of affiliation, but an alternative is now available in the form of the Association of Running Clubs (ARC).  The ARC provide member clubs and events they organise with comprehensive civil liability insurance for a fraction of the costs of affiliation to EA and without all the attendant administration.  Details are available on the ARC website: www.runningclubs.org.uk 

 

For clubs who are looking for appropriate insurance and less bureaucracy this would certainly seem to be the best solution, providing members are not particularly bothered about competing in events within the UKA/EA system (see below).  In such events their athletes are likely to be regarded as unattached and could be subject to the usual surcharge on entry fees (currently 2).

 

Which members to register?

EA and UKA will undoubtedly insist on athletes competing within their Championships being registered with EA.  Unfortunately the territories (Midlands, North and South) in accepting their downgraded roles as 'competition providers' have adopted a supine approach to EA and from early autumn onwards are likely to require EA registration for competitors in their championships and track and field leagues.(although we note the SEAA rejected plans to affiliate itself to EA )  However, in practice it is likely to prove impossible to 'police' the registration system at most road races or track and field meetings, particularly those taking entries on the day. The Track and Field Leagues committee has stated it will not monitor registered athletes because of the additional work load.

 

Clubs wishing to continue to compete in Championships and Leagues under UKA, EA or territorial control should minimise their contributions to EA coffers by only registering those athletes likely to compete in such competitions, and then leaving it as late as possible.  The EA Information Sheet sent out in January 2007 stated that clubs will be excluded from team competition if they have not paid by September (with a reminder to be issued in July).  Any additional athletes can be registered as and when necessary.

 

What information to provide?

The January 2007 EA Information Sheet stated that 'core data requirements' would include e-mail, home and mobile phone number, events competed in, ethnicity and disability status.  Pressure from ABAC and others have forced EA into rapid backtracking and they now state their 'minimum data requirement' as: first name, surname, gender, date of birth, contact address, postcode, first claim status.

 

Many would regard most of this as non-contentious, although interestingly the EA Individual Membership Form still contains all their previous bureaucratic demands - quite probably a sign of things to come! 
No doubt secretaries of larger clubs will be salivating at the prospect of providing all that information (much of which they may not have) for several hundred members.

 

Even with the current reduced 'minimum data requirement', there are serious concerns about supplying members' addresses, since this will give EA the opportunity to by-pass clubs in communicating with athletes.  Given the lies, half truths and spin that have accompanied the discredited Foster Report and the so-called 'modernisation' of the sport, it is hardly surprising that many club officials and others at grass roots level have serious misgivings about EA's motives for demanding addresses.  Some clubs are known to be supplying their club secretary's address as the contact point for all registered members, although this might not go down well with the secretary's local postie!

 

In summary

As we said in our introduction, the final decision must rest with clubs and their members but ABAC's advice can be summarised as:

       Affiliate to ARC instead if you feel your club has no need for competition under EA/UKA control;

       If you feel you must stay with EA:

-       register the minimum number of athletes of 11 and over likely to compete in events which can be effectively controlled by EA

-       provide as little data on individual members as you can.