Club athletes in England set to pay much higher affiliation fees beginning 2013
Athletes face a four-fold rise in yearly affiliation fees following England Athletics’ announcement last week of its revised membership structure for 2013 onwards.
That contrasts with the current staggered system depending on the number of entries. The fee for road races with 50 or fewer entries is currently only £10, rising to £25 for 51-100 entries.
The amount paid by each athlete, through their respective clubs, to EA has remained unchanged since 2008 at £5. However, the cost for a senior track and field athlete to affiliate to EA in 2013-2014 will be £20. For senior athletes competing as non-track and field athletes, this will be £10, while under-17s wanting to compete on the track will pay £15.
EA has outlined further increases in future years as shown in the panel below. Each club and event provider will continue to pay the £50 annual affiliation fee.
The governing body has stressed the need for it to be self-supporting as Sport England reviews its allocation to EA and all other applicable sports, which will be announced in December. It has also pointed out that the new affiliation fee puts it more in line with the equivalents for Scotland and Wales and those for other sports.
“As a sport we have been extremely fortunate to enjoy strong government funding, as well as the provision of commercial revenue brought in from sponsors,” said acting England Athletics chief executive Chris Jones. “However, the financial landscape has clearly changed for the government and commercial sector since the start of the 2009-13 funding cycle. The growth in recreational participation in athletics, in particular running, and the increase in the number of registered members also means we have a bigger sport to cater for, and we want to be in a position to continue to see our sport grow and flourish.”
Maintaining status quo EA insists the rise in affiliation fees is necessary in order to retain the level of support for the sport and to be able to present itself well to Sport England and other investors.
Andy Barber, EA spokesman, said: “The main thing is that if we know we can bring in a meaningful level of funding that safeguards the fundamentals then that puts us in a far, far stronger position to then have those conversations with Sport England and any other providers and come to the table with something that looks strong and robust and shows a level of commitment from within the sport itself.”
He added: “There has to be a demonstration from our sport that we’re making a meaningful demonstration to our own upkeep and core governance rather than being purely dependent on money coming out of the taxpayers’ pocket.
“To go cap in hand to Sport England and say we want the Government to pay for all this, in the current climate, wouldn’t go down very well or be likely to succeed.”
He added: “It’s about making sure there’s that viability there for the core of the sport. Without that, you don’t really stand a chance of bringing meaningful revenue in from other partners.”
The affiliation fee decisions were deliberately taken in advance of club annual general meetings, says EA, who add that the new financial structure needed to be in place before discussions with Sport England over funding took place.
It was also confirmed that EA hopes that from 2014 athletes will be able to pay fees directly rather than through the clubs, provided they are members of an affiliated club.
Road versus track The lower fees for off-track membership is largely explained by the higher costs for track and field, says England Athletics.
EA also announced that from April 2013, clubs would have to pay a one-off license fee of £25 per event.
Clubs organising larger races than that will be making a saving from next April. For example, the current fee for races of 501-600 entries is £220, while the rare club events attracting more than 1000 have to pay at least £700 at the moment.
Young athletes From 2013 onwards, Sport England funding will not cover programmes for under-14s. Another reason for the change therefore, EA stresses, is to ensure that support for the English Schools Athletic Association, Sportshall and other initiatives can continue.
Internal and external investment Only 8% of EA’s funding came from within the sport for period 2009-2013. Included in the remainder was just over £20 million from Sport England, the quango charged with allocating government and National Lottery funding.
Sport England has said that it expects overall allocations for 2013-2017 to be similar to that for the previous four years, but the portions for each sport are still being reviewed.
» See englandathletics.org for more details