Outcome of membership scheme

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
David Robertson
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by David Robertson » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:43 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Phil Neatherway wrote: Do you want the membership scheme to be a success?
Please define success or failure.

We can I think agree that it fails if it doesn't raise enough money for the ECF.

Is it also a failure if the ECF has to propose considerable increases for 2013-14?

Is it a failure if the numbers of individuals playing graded games is down on 2011-12?

Is it a failure if the number of graded games played is down on 2011-12?

Is it a failure if player turnover is greater than normally seen, both in terms of players apparently retiring and new players not replacing them?

Is it a failure if the number of chess tourists, Scots, Welsh and others taking part in English Congresses is reduced?
It's instructive to apply these PIs to the 'Game Fee' model. For a start, Game Fee hardly ever raised enough money for ECF. That's why every Finance meeting involved a squabble over 42p v. 45p and similar. And Game Fee did nothing to staunch the long slow decline in participation in the game.

What Roger de Coverly now demands is that a Membership scheme should reverse that decline, or be judged a failure. That's some brass neck he's got! :roll:

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:54 pm

Bob Clark wrote: There is no evidence that enough money would have been raised for the ECF (and who knows what the definition of enough money is) if the membership scheme had not been introduced.
The membership rates were purported to be enough to meet the ECF's funding requirements and the ECF eventually got the voting members to sign off a budget based on them. Had no changes have been made, the same process would need to have been followed. The benchmark figure is usually that Game Fee would have been in the 70p to 80p range. This would have increased the costs to clubs of a 10 round league by up to £ 2 per nominal player and of a five round Congress by up to £ 1 per entrant.

It was a stated objective that the ECF had to raise more money to meet the loss of DCMS Grant.

Why that was best achieved by removing the requirement for leagues to pay Game Fee on Gold members and trying to recoup the shortfall from that and more from less active players and Juniors was never properly explained. The ex-CEO seemed to think there was an element of unfairness about the previous system. He may have been right, but if you are trying to raise more money, you don't offer unsolicited price cuts to your most committed players.

What I would have proposed would have been a phase out of some of the numerous Game Fee exemptions, accompanied perhaps by abandoning the requirement to be a member to play in FIDE rated events. The local membership schemes in the North and elsewhere were best converted into a form of vice-presidency, in other words, they could have a (within reason) unlimited number of local games graded for a fixed price. It would be left to them how they recouped this from local players.

You may say that would increase the entry fees of someone who played 10 tournaments a year. Yes it would, by around £ 30 or £ 40 a year. Is that a major problem for someone playing that much?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:05 pm

David Robertson wrote: What Roger de Coverly now demands is that a Membership scheme should reverse that decline
I thought the case for membership was that it was the best thing since sliced bread and would increase both chess activity and participation.

(edit) That's what Sean Hewitt was always saying about the Leics MO, so it seems quite reasonable to test these claims on a national scale(/edit)

The number of participants has been stable at around 15,000 a year, with around 12,000 playing enough for a grade. That's notwithstanding a turnover of around 1,500. I have never seen why existence of a membership requirement should attract new players as against its absence, so if the non-membership environment was struggling to achieve a steady state, a membership requirement could cause a collapse in numbers. This is particularly so when you look at the long tail of the grading list, those players playing five games or under. It's characteristic of a "bulk" approach to membership that it keeps low volume players in the system. Perhaps the ECF would rather dump them.

When Game Fee was the ECF's principal means of raising revenue, it was always going to increase whenever the ECF needed to spend more money. With individual membership replacing it, that will have to take the strain instead. So what rates are likely to be proposed next April for September 2013?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:53 pm

Bob Clark wrote: In all likelyhood it would have just driven more Areas and Organisations to form MO's and then Game fee would have increased again etc etc.
Obviously it depends on the average number of games played by each player and the effects to individuals of the discount they would get from Congresses, but the frequent effect of MOs was to increase the income of the ECF. So yes, the local league saved Game Fee which it passed on to the clubs, but the clubs or individuals then had to add the MO cost directly or indirectly to their own membership costs. The bottom line was that you cannot save more in Game Fee than is being paid in the first place.

County AGMs in my part of the world always found it very easy to reject the MO hypothesis. You did no more than look up in the accounts what the county paid in Game Fee and compare that to how many memberships it would buy.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:07 pm

Bob Clark wrote: The MO's in the North and Leicestershire were created because ECF members were not happy with the game fee model.
That would be members in the organisation sense, as under Game Fee, individuals didn't have to be members. Congress organisers in particular seemed to resent increases that might put 50p on an entry fee if they recouped it from entrants. There seemed little understanding of the simple premise that if Game Fee was the ECF's principal means of funding, then an increase in the ECF's funding required Game Fee to increase. Had membership been the primary funding mechanism, then membership costs would have had to go up by the same percentages. If you don't want the ECF's charges to increase, you have to cut back the ECF's expenditure as eventually was done after the loss of the DCMS grant.

Had Game Fee been increased from 58p to 80p, then MO membership cost should also have been increased in proportion to around £ 16 or £ 17 per head.

Martin Regan

Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Martin Regan » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:05 pm

The success of the membership scheme will surely be judged on how many members sign up compared to the board's expectations.

The financial success of the scheme, though obviously critical, is irrelevant to this. It is possible in theory to have a wildly successful scheme which nonetheless bankrupts the ECF. Ie you have a successful scheme but an imbecile as your accountant. I think Hoover found this was possible in its air-ticket fiasco.

Has the board published a target for the number of members it expects?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:36 pm

Martin Regan wrote:The success of the membership scheme will surely be judged on how many members sign up compared to the board's expectations.
Regardless of whether it shrinks the English playing base in the process?
Martin Regan wrote:Has the board published a target for the number of members it expects?
There's an expectation of sorts in the budget. It's really rather low and they are expecting to balance the budget with residual Game Fee.

David Gilbert
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by David Gilbert » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:50 pm

Some figures beneath. The targets for Adult Bronze and Junior Gold have been achieved, but there appears to be a shortfall in the overall numbers of Silver members so far.

The ECF budgeted for zero income from Platinum membership.

Adults
  • ----------TARGET ---- CURRENT ---PERCENTAGE
    Gold -------- 1200 ----- 759 ------- 63%
    Silver ------- 3000 ----- 1229 ------ 41%
    Bronze ------ 2750 ----- 2759 ----- 100%
    Platinum ------ 0---------- 70


    Total ------ 6950 ----- 4817 ----- 69%
Juniors
  • Gold --------- 70 ----- 248 ------ 354%
    Silver------- 1350 ----- 221 ------- 16%
    Bronze ------ 500 ----- 279 ------- 56%
    Platinum ------ 0 ------ 0 -----
    Total------- 1920 ----- 748 ------- 39%

    Overall----- 8870 ----- 5565 ------ 63%

Martin Regan

Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Martin Regan » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:04 pm

Regardless of whether it shrinks the English playing base in the process?
Well yes. You're trying to answer two different things:

The success of the membership scheme as a membership scheme.

The impact of a "successful" membership scheme on the ECF's wider remit to promote chess playing.

To my mind there are three separate, though linked, tasks.

Deliver a successful membership scheme in terms of numbers

Ensure that this scheme can pay for the federation's work.

Ensure that this scheme can form strong foundations for the ECF to deliver its remit.

It's why I'm always banging on about OMOV. However successful the scheme is, initially, if it becomes, like Game Fee, solely a revenue raising device it will fail in the longterm

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:11 pm

David Gilbert wrote: Silver------- 1350 ----- 221 ------- 16%
The junior Silver objective is most likely nonsense. It relates to the normal practice of running Junior events as individual (mostly) rapid plays rather than team events. The April Council meeting allowed for the retention of Game Fee at a reduced rate for that type of event.

Obviously you have Junior players in adult Congresses, but whether the total is anywhere near 1350 remains to be seen.

Whilst the grading team would be able to break down the 2011-12 results between Leagues, Congresses and exclusively junior events, nothing of use has been published. Some additional breakdown at the individual level of game count by league/county, non FIDE Congresses, FIDE Congresses and FIDE leagues with perhaps an indication of how many Congresses would enable independent investigation. Whether the ECF has ever done a proper investigation, I wouldn't know, but the ex-CEO seemed far happier with averages than with ever working out who paid what under a mixed membership/Game Fee system and a Membership system with concessions.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:16 pm

Martin Regan wrote: The impact of a "successful" membership scheme on the ECF's wider remit to promote chess playing.
I've never really seen a scheme which tries to charge the same amount for the most active players as the least active as likely to do anything other than to discourage chess playing as measured by numbers participating. For that matter introduction of rules which state that only "members" are allowed to play is hardly a promotion.

Martin Regan

Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Martin Regan » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:20 pm

Golf

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:11 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:I've never really seen a scheme which tries to charge the same amount for the most active players as the least active as likely to do anything other than to discourage chess playing as measured by numbers participating.
Don't we know it. Despite the evidence of MOs such as Leicestershire, you just can't bring yourself to believe that membership actually encourages participation.

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:13 pm

David Gilbert wrote:Some figures beneath. The targets for Adult Bronze and Junior Gold have been achieved, but there appears to be a shortfall in the overall numbers of Silver members so far.

The ECF budgeted for zero income from Platinum membership.

Adults
  • ----------TARGET ---- CURRENT ---PERCENTAGE
    Gold -------- 1200 ----- 759 ------- 63%
    Silver ------- 3000 ----- 1229 ------ 41%
    Bronze ------ 2750 ----- 2759 ----- 100%
    Platinum ------ 0---------- 70


    Total ------ 6950 ----- 4817 ----- 69%
Juniors
  • Gold --------- 70 ----- 248 ------ 354%
    Silver------- 1350 ----- 221 ------- 16%
    Bronze ------ 500 ----- 279 ------- 56%
    Platinum ------ 0 ------ 0 -----
    Total------- 1920 ----- 748 ------- 39%

    Overall----- 8870 ----- 5565 ------ 63%
These figures were pre the April Finance Council meeting (which introduced junior game fee).

That decision will clearly have a detrimental effect on Junior Silver membership, despite the proposers of the motion claiming that it would have a positive effect on junior membership. Time will tell how detrimental that decision was.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Outcome of membership scheme

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:54 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote: Don't we know it. Despite the evidence of MOs such as Leicestershire, you just can't bring yourself to believe that membership actually encourages participation.
You really believe then that the membership scheme will encourage growth of numbers playing and that leagues banning non-members doesn't reduce the head count of those taking part.

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