ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:06 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote: I'd have thought it wise to run the British as an independent event to avoid VAT liability. (Even then, I'm not sure if it comes below the threshold - I don't actually know what the threshold is!) The BICC could run the tournament, and just appoint Dave and Alex to run it as they do now.
The threshold's £ 70,000 according to http://vat-threshold.co.uk/. On a good year, your prize fund could get near to this.

I've speculated on this as well. You may have a couple of specific issues though. The first being that there's nearly a hundred prior examples of the Congress being part of the ECF and the BCF before that. So it looks like avoidance in a way that setting up a new event doesn't. The second is that it might be more comforting to a local tourist body or whatever to be dealing with the national chess body, rather than a one off entity with little track record.

It's been asserted in the past, that because of expenses which themselves contain VAT, that charging VAT on entries doesn't cost 20% when seen in the context of the overall budget for the Congress.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:16 pm

Sebastian Stone wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote: At the moment, you pay the Club Internal rate, which is something like 18p per halfresult.

If you had an internal competition, you could pay £6 for it, yes. You are correct in what you say, but twas ever thus and you still play in team competitions.
Wouldn't that involve another charge?
You'd have to be a member to play in team competitions, yes. So this would be an extra charge of £18.

Alternatively, you can become a member to play in the team competition anyway at £18, and then get the grading for your internal competition free of charge.

So your players who play internally and for your club can pay £18
Your players who play internally only can pay £6

Richard Cowan
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Richard Cowan » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:21 pm

The second is that it might be more comforting to a local tourist body or whatever to be dealing with the national chess body, rather than a one off entity with little track record.
This might also make a large difference when it comes to securing sponsorship.

Steve Rooney
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Steve Rooney » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:53 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Steve Rooney wrote: a stronger link between individual players and the ECF
In practice is the link any stronger than "give us money or we won't grade your games"? Game Fee is the same of course, but at the level of the County or League, so it's only the League treasurer who suffers.

If the ECF had sufficient sponsorship or patronage that it could pay for all its activities without charging anything to the participants at large, would membership advocates still want paid-for individual membership and why? What do want to do in practice with your membership list. Being in a position to send junk email to every chess player is a priority of the ECF because?
Are you assuming that all those outside membership realise they are paying game fee? I am not sure this is the case. I'd never heard of game fee until I managed to work out what the comment in someone's signature panel on the forum meant. Club players pay membership to a club which then passes a sum on to the league/county, which then pays game fees to ECF. If there were a grading levy/registration fee/membership, call it what you like, then it would constitute a more direct link.

I am quite happy to argue the case when collecting club fees for an additional, modest charge that goes to support the work of the ECF, including grading, rather than having to explain that the whole system of game fee (which they may not even know they have been paying) has been replaced by a single (larger) annual membership fee.

Krishna Shiatis
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:17 pm

David Shepherd wrote:Has any thought been given to raising money in other ways e.g. ECF coaching days,simuls, online charging to watch commentary/games from British for example (could be done as part of enhanced membership subscription), online video subscription service etc. Is there scope for the ECF to work with some of the top players in order to generate funds for both the players and the ECF?

Also is turning the whole thing in to a charity an option - allowing gift aid/VAT advantages.

Very much agree, that one of the ways forward is very much to generate more income by currently untapped resources.

From everything mentioned here, most people seem unaware of the potential out there.

The possibilities are endless for somebody willing to take a look at drawing in more 'punters'.

For example, take a look at the UK Chess Challenge. If the ECF were to do their own version, with the finals being qualification/entry to the British, you would be looking at revenues into the £100,000s. Do you have any idea how much this currently makes per year? IF you did your sums , you would be gobsmacked.

The various stages cost a fortune and as far as I understand, none of this currently filters to the ECF or juniors. The money is very much out there. It is just that nobody is looking at it. Instead you are squeezing your current clientele and worrying about the pennies.

Look at your potential clientele and you will have a solution.

Also, be nicer to your existing juniors and their parents. We are lovely. Honest.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:24 pm

Krishna Shiatis wrote:For example, take a look at the UK Chess Challenge. If the ECF were to do their own version, with the finals being qualification/entry to the British, you would be looking at revenues into the £100,000s. Do you have any idea how much this currently makes per year? IF you did your sums , you would be gobsmacked.
If the ECF were to have its own version, it would be a waste of time. It would always be a second-place to the UKCC, and it wouldn't get enough support. If the ECF had started it instead of Mike Basman, then we'd be sorted.

However, even the UKCC is in decline. According to Mike himself at last year's Terafinal, 2011 will be the last year of British Land sponsorship. I think the number of chessplayers entering his event has decreased in the last few years. Either that or they've been going up and he hasn't advertised the fact like he always used to...

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:35 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Krishna Shiatis wrote:For example, take a look at the UK Chess Challenge. If the ECF were to do their own version, with the finals being qualification/entry to the British, you would be looking at revenues into the £100,000s. Do you have any idea how much this currently makes per year? IF you did your sums , you would be gobsmacked.
If the ECF were to have its own version, it would be a waste of time. It would always be a second-place to the UKCC, and it wouldn't get enough support. If the ECF had started it instead of Mike Basman, then we'd be sorted.

However, even the UKCC is in decline. According to Mike himself at last year's Terafinal, 2011 will be the last year of British Land sponsorship. I think the number of chessplayers entering his event has decreased in the last few years. Either that or they've been going up and he hasn't advertised the fact like he always used to...
I strongly disagree. You can make it whatever you want it to be. You just need to be focussed about it and dangle the British Championships at the end. Believe me, many parents would be very impressed with a British Title at the end of it all. It would boost the British Championships and give chess a boost, if done properly.

If the current UK Chess Challenge is in decline, then that is because chess in general in this country is in decline. As I have said before, participation is an urgent issue which needs to be dealt with.

If chess does not appeal to the masses and needs a boost, then the ECF needs to look at ways of achieving this.

The money is very much out there, you just have to tap into it. It has to be a concerted and co-odinated effort from the top. Junior Chess needs to be restructured, PR has to be addressed quick-smartish, you have to bring the youngsters in to help (the young GMs and IMs) and you need to make chess 'cool'.

Have said this many times. ECF needs to change and move forwards.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:40 pm

Krishna Shiatis wrote:I strongly disagree. You can make it whatever you want it to be. You just need to be focussed about it and dangle the British Championships at the end. Believe me, many parents would be very impressed with a British Title at the end of it all. It would boost the British Championships and give chess a boost, if done properly.
I agree with this, but remember that the 1st round is funded by chess coaches running their clubs. You can't be sure that they'll switch their allegiance to the ECF tournament. Parents aren't choosing which tournament to enter at this stage. (You'd also be excluding Ireland from the British Championship, which would violate terms of the BICC agreement.)
Krishna Shiatis wrote:If the current UK Chess Challenge is in decline, then that is because chess in general in this country is in decline. As I have said before, participation is an urgent issue which needs to be dealt with.

If chess does not appeal to the masses and needs a boost, then the ECF needs to look at ways of achieving this.
Correct, and agreed.
Krishna Shiatis wrote:The money is very much out there, you just have to tap into it. It has to be a concerted and co-odinated effort from the top. Junior Chess needs to be restructured, PR has to be addressed quick-smartish, you have to bring the youngsters in to help (the young GMs and IMs) and you need to make chess 'cool'.

Have said this many times. ECF needs to change and move forwards.
Junior chess having about 12 different organisations running things is prohibitive. The ECF would struggle to convince their organisers to nationalise them though.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:49 pm

Krishna Shiatis wrote:If the current UK Chess Challenge is in decline, then that is because chess in general in this country is in decline. As I have said before, participation is an urgent issue which needs to be dealt with.
I agree with most of what you said, but this is incorrect - in fact more graded games of chess are being played year-on-year. At the top level it may be that we don't have as many players becoming GMs and IMs. I don't know as much about junior chess, so it might be that we just don't have the mass of players coming through that we once did, and I agree that it is something that we could change.

The two biggest money earners in chess are junior chess and... junior chess.

Perhaps the main problem with the ECF setup is that Directors are not paid, and get elected every year, rather than three years, which is becoming more common. This might seem a really bad idea, but in fact the ECF should be run by paid staff, who are probably experienced chess players and organisers. This is the Chess Scotland model, and it works. At the moment you get elected for one year, receive no training at all and before you get a chance to work out what's going on, you are into the next round of elections. You're a volunteer, and it's hard to find the time to commit to the (not insubstantial) workload.
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:56 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Krishna Shiatis wrote:I strongly disagree. You can make it whatever you want it to be. You just need to be focussed about it and dangle the British Championships at the end. Believe me, many parents would be very impressed with a British Title at the end of it all. It would boost the British Championships and give chess a boost, if done properly.
I agree with this, but remember that the 1st round is funded by chess coaches running their clubs. You can't be sure that they'll switch their allegiance to the ECF tournament. Parents aren't choosing which tournament to enter at this stage. (You'd also be excluding Ireland from the British Championship, which would violate terms of the BICC agreement.)
Krishna Shiatis wrote:If the current UK Chess Challenge is in decline, then that is because chess in general in this country is in decline. As I have said before, participation is an urgent issue which needs to be dealt with.

If chess does not appeal to the masses and needs a boost, then the ECF needs to look at ways of achieving this.
Correct, and agreed.
Krishna Shiatis wrote:The money is very much out there, you just have to tap into it. It has to be a concerted and co-odinated effort from the top. Junior Chess needs to be restructured, PR has to be addressed quick-smartish, you have to bring the youngsters in to help (the young GMs and IMs) and you need to make chess 'cool'.

Have said this many times. ECF needs to change and move forwards.
Junior chess having about 12 different organisations running things is prohibitive. The ECF would struggle to convince their organisers to nationalise them though.
ECF has the power to unite if it chooses. Also, it has the power to do as it pleases with regards to national competitions. I am not sure that the other junior organisations would be affected.

Also, I am not proposing that ECF steal the existing schools which filter into the UK Chess Challenge. There are plenty that do not and plenty of others which might run both. I do think though, that the potential is immense. It would certainly make up for any government funding lost this year and the next and so on and so forth.

I have no idea why it might excude Ireland. You could always ask the schools there, if they wished to participate. I do not like the idea of anyone being excluded.

Also, there could be other qualification routes to the British - a bit like the 'last chance saloons' run by the UK Chess Challenge. Nobody needs to be excluded. You just make it so that as many children as possible have a chance of qualifying.

I am sure that there are other ways that the ECF could make money. Another possibility is to organise structured training for adults and juniors. This could make money if done properly. There are many adults and juniors who would love to have have access to cost-effective and decent training. It just is not out there at a National Level.

Tap into the potential.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:04 pm

Krishna, the point is that you can't make such sweeping changes to the British Championship structure without the agreement of Chess Scotland, the Irish Chess Union etc. If the ECF is running an event like this - the ECF takes sole responsibility for organising the British - then it'd have to involve all of the British Isles, and then if a profit was made, work out which of the other organisations - if any - get a slice of it.

I also think you'll find that if a school isn't doing the UK Chess Challenge, it's because no one would run it. They wouldn't start running it if the ECF came up with its own event.

The general problem with the things you are advising is that everyone else has beaten the ECF to it over the last fifty years, and would take umbrage if we stole their idea.

For example, after the collapse of old BUCA, the ECF had the opportunity to run a national Universities' championship to replace it. They didn't, and then I came along and did it myself. So that's now administered independently, and it's a national competition. This is something the ECF could have done to expand its portfolio.

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Gareth Harley-Yeo
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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:06 pm

As I'm aware many of you won't have read my thread, what do you think of the following proposal?
Adam Raoof wrote:
Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote: OK then, the strict answer is that grading itself does not cost a penny. The ECF raises money by a tax on chess (a chess prevention tax, as Sean Hewitt would call it), linking it to grading and rating. It is an indirect tax, in that most people do not realise they are paying it. Nevertheless, I accept the principle that we pay the tax for the good of the game.
Taxing income makes sense to me (I am a tax man after all). The more you earn, the more you pay. But with chess, is it fair to say, the more you play the more you pay? It really does seam counterproductive to the good of the game. I currently play in 4 different leagues (if you include the 4NCL). I'd be much less willing to answer my respective captains calls for assistance if I not only had to factor in the cost of travel to each venue but also the added cost of a game fee/tax.
Agreed, that is why I am not in favour of game fee, but of membership, however it works.
Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:I agree membership to the ECF is vital to keep it alive but paying per game will do more harm than good. As You wrote on the other thread. You are here to support the regular players, not the skittle players.

If it were up to me, which granted it's not. I'm a simple neutral observer. I'd go with the two tier approach.

Everyone must be an ECF member (or member of their respective national body) to play chess in England.

You can have two membership options.

(a) ECF League membership (£10)
(b) ECF Tournament membership (£10)

Or both (a)+(b) for the discounted price of say (£18)

The respective league could add say £2 to pocket for their own league if they so wished.

No game fees, 100% ECF membership. Everyone's a winner?
With refinements, yes!

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:06 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:
Krishna Shiatis wrote:If the current UK Chess Challenge is in decline, then that is because chess in general in this country is in decline. As I have said before, participation is an urgent issue which needs to be dealt with.
I agree with most of what you said, but this is incorrect - in fact more graded games of chess are being played year-on-year. At the top level it may be that we don't have as many players becoming GMs and IMs. I don't know as much about junior chess, so it might be that we just don't have the mass of players coming through that we once did, and I agree that it is something that we could change.

The two biggest money earners in chess are junior chess and... junior chess.

Perhaps the main problem with the ECF setup is that Directors are not paid, and get elected every year, rather than three years, which is becoming more common. This might seem a really bad idea, but in fact the ECF should be run by paid staff, who are probably experienced chess players and organisers. This is the Chess Scotland model, and it works. At the moment you get elected for one year, receive no training at all and before you get a chance to work out what's going on, you are into the next round of elections. You're a volunteer, and it's hard to find the time to commit to the (not insubstantial) workload.
Hi Adam,

I agree with everything that you have said except for the bit about participation. More graded games does not necessarily equal more participation. Just (perhaps) that the existing players are possibly grading more games.

I do understand about the situation with volunteers - it is a tough one. Just need to look at this carefully at the next meet and decide what to do.

With regards to junior chess and the money. Yes, absolutely agreed.

This is why I am amazed by what I have been seeing over the past few months with regards to junior chess. If people do understand that this is where the money is, then 'hello?' wake up to the fact and do something.

It is in your collective hands to do something.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Steve Rooney » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:34 pm

I can't see any purpose in the ECF trying to run in competition with the UK Chess Challenge. Tens of thousands of children take part every year, many getting involved in a chess event for the first time. If the organiser can make money out of it, then good luck to him.

I feel the same about training. There could be potential in the training sphere, particularly for coaching adults which is a much-neglected field. ECF has a role which is in facilitating and encouraging, perhaps through establishing some tougher criteria for accreditation of coaches, but not necessarily in delivering training.

Some things are much better left to be run in social and commercial enterprises by enthusiastic amateurs, chess businesses and micro-businesses.

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Re: ECF Funding - An Attempt to Take Stock

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:38 pm

Steve Rooney wrote:. If there were a grading levy/registration fee/membership, call it what you like, then it would constitute a more direct link. .
Given that I was a Club Treasurer under the system prior to Game Fee, I have to say that I doubt it. We paid a registration fee via the county association which then had to find a volunteer to keep track and issue pieces of paper which you were then supposed to pass on to the individuals. In theory there were events for which you were supposed to be BCF registered to take part in. In practice checking and validation was infrequent with some counties being keener on enforcement than others. The amounts involved were modest throughout the eighties but the BCF then increased the cost quite dramatically. Given the extra work this created for both counties and clubs that was abolished with the introduction of Game Fee, I have no great desire to see it return.

It was only then the BCF started putting the cost up every year that I realised that a closer relationship with the BCF meant keeping a close eye on what it was up to. The SCCU bulletin and later the SCCU website were a valuable source of information.

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