Finance Council report

While I’m working on the detailed Minutes of last Saturday’s Finance Council meeting, I thought that a summary of the decisions made might be worthwhile.

International Chess budget

More than 90% of this budget relates to a single item – the cost of sending a team to the European Team Championships.  Of the £18,500 allocated to this, a large proportion relates to expenses (event fees, accommodation and travel costs).  The budget did allow for payment of fees to the players, although the amount budgeted would not have allowed for the strongest possible team.  The Director of International Chess had intended to seek external support to make up the difference and allow the strongest team to go, otherwise the best team affordable within the budget would have been sent.

Council voted to make the full European Team Championships budget conditional upon additional financial support being found which would enable the strongest available team to be sent.  If the additional funding could not be found, the ECF’s spending should be restricted to the amount required to cover expenses only.  In this case, a “development” team would be sent, which would not require players’ fees.

2011-12 Funding from Game Fee and Membership

The Board’s proposal to Council was to leave Game Fee and Membership subscriptions unchanged for the coming year, with substantial increases the following year in accordance with the Funding Paper.  The budget deficit in 2011-12 would have been funded by a transfer of £15,000 from the Permanent Investment Fund (PIF).  Council’s preference was to fund part of the deficit from increased player/member contributions as follows:

  • Game Fee is to rise from 54p to 58p for Standard Play League and Congress results (with proportionate increases in the other event categories);
  • Basic and Basic Junior memberships will increase by £1 to £13 and £8.50 respectively;
  • All other Direct membership subscriptions (Full, Standard, Junior, etc.) will increase by £2;
  • The membership fee for organisations (leagues, etc.) will increase from £54 to £58.

The effect of these changes will be to reduce the budget deficit for 2011-12.  As a result, Council voted to limit the amount to be requested from the PIF to “up to £10,000″.

Future Funding

As expected, there was a lengthy discussion of the options set out in my paper on the future funding of the ECF.  The resulting card vote was as follows:

  • Option 1 (Membership scheme) – 91 votes
  • Option 2 (Membership/Game Fee combination) – 71 votes
  • Neither of the above – 7 votes

Following this vote, one of my principal tasks over the coming weeks and months will be to draw up detailed implementation proposals for Option 1, along with the necessary amendments to the ECF’s Articles.  The latter will need to be voted on at the AGM in October, with a 75% majority required in order to be passed. 

Clearly, in view of the closeness of the vote on Saturday, a 75% majority cannot be assumed, and part of my brief is clearly to design the detailed proposals in such a way as to address as many of the concerns and objections of those who preferred Option 2 as possible.  The debate at Council was very helpful in setting out a number of these.

It would be fair to describe the decision on Saturday as the start of a journey rather than its end.  There is still lots to do!

Charitable Status

During the debate on future funding, I briefed Council on proposals to pursue the establishment of a charitable body to undertake the bulk of the ECF’s current activities.  Not everything that the ECF does fits within the definition of “charitable aims” (basically, anything to do with professional chess is out), so a non-charitable organisation would also be required.  Nevertheless, if a charity can be established for most of the ECF’s work, this should open the possibility of membership subscriptions and other donations being eligible for Gift Aid.  The effect of this would be to reduce the amount that members would have to pay in order to achieve the same total level of funding for the charity.

Again, there is plenty of work to do on this before we’ll know what is possible and whether the Charity Commission will accept the new charitable organisation (which the ECF Council will need to approve, of course), but I am optimistic.

Multiple directorships held by one individual

Lawrence Cooper’s proposal to allow a single individual to stand for and hold two directorships on the ECF Board (currently the maximum is one) was overwhelmingly defeated.

Amendments to rules for the County Championship draw

A couple of minor amendments were passed allowing a little more flexibility in the draw for this event.  Currently, it has to be done by the end of January, which can cause practical problems if the weather is uncooperative and may require a journey specifically for this purpose.  Giving room for the draw to happen as late as February may mean a cost saving, because those concerned may be meeting anyway at other events during that period.

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