I think Alan and Sean are going off topic too
. I don't think there is any point comparing membership and game fee. We've already done it to death, and the vote was for membership.
Looking at Bucks, and trying to be practical. Some thoughts:1. MO type schemes seem inappropriate for us
It seems to me that MO schemes work very well where there are clear geographic boundaries. But for the leagues I have played in (Berks, Bucks, Thames Valley, Surrey Border, Surrey, Oxford and also London nearby) there is simply too much overlap of players for it to be practical for a league to run a membership scheme. 2. We need the ECF to have online membership
Since we can't join en masse, we need the IT solution to be available before membership starts. Just about the only reason I would consider disaffiliation is if it was impossible to join.3. The simplest way to run membership is with compulsion.
The rule non-members default takes away almost all the complexity. Clubs simply ask their members to join online, helping out those who cannot with the admin.
I wasn't taking this too seriously until I saw Jon Melsom's post. While I have no issue with compulsion, I am prepared to admit it is at the radical end of membership. It seemed a lot to ask my region to jump all the way from supporting game fee to compulsory membership. But if our main concern is simplicity, asking the clubs to charge the £12 as part of the club membership, is simple. My first thought was to exempt existing ECF members, but maybe a decision for the clubs, if their gold members are willing to subsidise the other members.
There might be a relevant local factor for Bucks. Venues are expensive in the South East, so £12 is probably a lower % of club membership than in some other areas.4. Ungraded competitions
Most people I play are ECF members already. I wouldn't want to give people like me an ungraded competition, indeed I would see its existence as evidence the league did not support the ECF which would trouble me.
However I see some value in competitions for beginners. Berks now have a 4 board rapidplay league X, aimed at beginners and secondary schools (other than mighty Wellington college of course!). I'd see it as a bit of a shame if such a league was ungraded, since I think the opportunity to get a grade encourages people when they are just past beginner. But it might makes sense.
I gave some thought to "first year free" to encourage new members. But it seems easier for the clubs than the league to organise. The club charging £12 to cover the ECF but giving its own membership free for the first year, seems a better way to do it.5 Engaging with the ECF
Options like 3 free games, first year free for players with no graded (either new or lapsed), and a lower bronze/ high gold membership, could be tabled to the April Finance Council if we felt they would make a significant difference. I am a bit doubtful, they seem to me to add more complexity than benefit. But certainly somethings the leagues could discuss internally and with their neighbours.
Indeed, if £12 is simply too high, we could ask the ECF to consider its spending plans, a discussion notable for its absence at the Council meeting. But I don't really believe the difference between say £10 and £12 will make a critical difference to most players. As I've said before, a season of chess is about the same cost and much better value than a cinema ticket.