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Strategy Proposal for the Future of the EBU
Duplicate Bridge in England
We will post your views here
All comments for and against will be published - email me or put your views on the Members Only page.
For a start here are the webmaster's personal views - what do you think ?
The Proposals - A personal View
What is reason for change ?
“Reverse decline” - This is unlikely to occur at any major level. Society has changed since the 'heyday' of bridge. There are more things to do, people have more money and choices.
“unite all players” - will this do so ? Compulsory membership is unlikely to be very effective - the 'closed shop' was not a resounding success. The proposals are in themselves divisive. How can they unite ?
In Appendix 2 that the EBU admit that they may lose up to 1/5 of affiliated clubs . “However, it is likely that, at least initially,some clubs will disaffiliate from the EBU. The completed questionnaires suggest that that could be as high as 20% ... “
“efficiency improvements ? What are they? Membership and Master points administration seem to work quite well at present.
2. Raising Money
Payto Play' (PTP) - “...does not have the objective of increasing the income available to the EBU; it is solely about an efficient and fair method of collection of money across an increased membership”. This seems to be a circular argument - 'PTP will increase membership' - 'Increased membership requires PTP'.
If the real reason is to ensure a regular income, the EBU should say so and argue for higher subscriptions or alternative means of fund raising.
3. Independence of Bridge Clubs
Bridge Clubs do not exist in a vacuum, they are often part of other organisations such as golf or social Clubs. They are run for members,by members to suit their own local requirements. Officers are volunteers who do it because they are happy with club structure and who are prepared to donate their time. Clubs have many different priorities and playing levels and people join to play bridge at their own level.
The proposals will enforce a legal contract with EBU who will, in effect, control the club's procedures. Many existing club officials will not be prepared to work under these conditions.
Note: EBU is not run by its membership
The EBU is a company whose shareholders are County nominees who elect EBUofficers.
County committees elected by very small proportion of membership. There were about 25 members at the Stafford & Shropshire AGM out of 441 EBU members (1422+ club members).
County committee members are not representative of club members; the main function of the County organisations is to organise competitions.
4.Questionnaire sent to Clubs
The questionnaire was flawed.
Question 6. “Would you expect your club to continue to affiliate to theEBU?”
Yes/No– The circumstances for continuing to affiliate are not specified.
Question 7. “Would your club prefer a single average Pay to Play fee (1)
or a higher one for Master-Point sessions and a lower one for non-Master-Point sessions(2)?”
Note – there was no option that did not assume PTP was implemented.
The analysis of the questionnaires is almost entirely based on the responses to these two questions both of which are flawed. The meaning of a club's responses to these questions must remain uncertain.
It is interesting to note that many clubs did not reply to these questions
Q6 133 out of 634
The analysis is based on the assumption that clubs who did not return the questionnaire have the same views as those who did. This cannot be valid – many clubs may not have replied because they did not feel that the questionnaire was reasonable.
The analysis does not show the response rate by County, (we do not know how many clubs were polled, only the number that responded. In Staffordshire 17 responded out of 20(?))
The questionnaires were sent to each club and probably filled in byofficers who may not have had time to fully consult with their members who did not have the full proposals available.
Implementation of PTP
The proposals involve a very large investment (110,000 pounds +/- 10%+50% = 165,000) a large proportion of this will be on the IT project. Experience with this type of project shows that the cost overrun could well be huge, especially when the specifications have not been completed. Already the EBU are talking about mortgaging their offices to fund the project (“It is therefore intended, if necessary, to take out a loan, secured against the asset of the Aylesbury office building, to support the funding of the implementation.”).
The success of such a project depends on the ability and judgement of those controlling it. There is not a lot of evidence for optimism.The last major EBU IT project was the Scoring Program which was heralded as a great advance and all clubs were encouraged to take it up. After much effort by many clubs the project was quietly abandoned (no explanation – it just disappeared).
Note on Bridge Computer systems.
All the successful Bridge administration systems have been developed independently, Scoring and web-administration systems have been compared and tested by clubs who have then chosen the one most suitable for their purposes. The developers have been flexible enough to respond to the demands of the clubs.
Currently Stafford BC uses ScoreBridge and BridgeWebs which are proving very satisfactory. The likelihood of the EBU developing anything comparable is low. However we will be forced to replace our scoring system with one that reports on all our sessions automatically to the EBU,
If the proposals go ahead there is a strong possibility that clubs will split into two – an non-EBU club that continues to run as before and a small EBU-affiliated club for members who wish to play in EBU sponsored events. These EBU clubs would not need to hold many events and therefore would contributevery little in the way of funds to the EBU.
The EBU seems determined to implement PTP regardless of the opposition (or extreme apathy) of the bridge players in the country. They deny that it is a money making operation and say that income will not be appreciably higher than current levels. They talk about the need to unite bridge players and then accept that 20% of clubs may leave.
Interest in Duplicate Bridge may be declining but it's decline has little todo with the EBU and its influence. Social changes mean that there arefar more alternatives. This does not mean that we should not try to increase the number of players of all ages but to pretend that PTP is the answer seems rather misguided.
Currently players join the EBU (via the County bodies) because they want to support the game and they enjoy the benefits (English Bridge,training sessions, competitions, master points etc.). They are prepared to pay for these. Clubs affiliate for similar reasons.Making membership compulsory, or automatic, will reduce it's meaning (1960 union 'closed shop' ?).
There is no evidence that the proposals will actually improve anything. The option to modify the existing individual and club membership subscriptions, which would maintain the current relationship between the EBU, Clubs and players does not seem to have been seriously considered .
Master-points are important to some players and the National Rating System has strong merits but they could be developed under a less disruptive regime.
BridgeClubs have developed over a long period and it is very important that they maintain their independence. The PTP proposals threaten this independence by instituting a contractual relationship whereby much of club's administration is determined and policed by a external organisation over which they have virtually no control..
If the EBU persist in implementing their plans it will divide BridgePlayers. Many clubs including Stafford may decline to join, creating unnecessary conflict and resulting unpleasantness.
For what ?
Iain Simpson 22ndApril 2008
nb.The views expressed above are my own and are not necessarily shared by other members of the Committee. If anyone has opposing (or any other) views we can publish them on the Club website so that members can consider their position before the club's AGM on Tue May 13thand the meeting with the County chairman on Wed 7thMay.
17th May 2010
This year our AGM will be held on Sunday 17th May commencing at 2.00 pm to be followed by cakes and tea etc and then a short session of social bridge
The following motion has been submitted for the AGM :
“That the Club writes to the EBU Board stating 'that while Stafford Bridge Club wishes to remain affiliated to the EBU it is not prepared to implement the proposed Pay-to-Play system' ”
It is proposed and supported by the following members :
Iain Simpson, Arthur Bloxham, Alan Ashmore, Bryan Purslow, Malcolm Roberts
The motion was defeated 18-14
Notes relating to the motion :
This is NOT a proposal to disaffiliate from the EBU
The proposers support the general aims of the EBU as the 'game's national governing body'
The timing of the motion (rather than wait until contracts are available) is to warn the EBU Board of the seriousness of the opposition to P2P.
We oppose P2P because -
it is a major interference in the running of the Club
It discriminates against members who are currently not EBU members who will pay substantially more if P2P is implemented
The proposals have already created major splits in the Bridge Community with a number of major clubs opting out.
The proposed levy of 29p cannot be economically justified unless about 80% of Clubs remain affiliated. It has been estimated that the 'economic' levy would be nearer 70p.
The proposals will weaken the financial position of the EBU :
The levy of 29p has been determined before the level of take-up is known
The Club will lose existing direct debits and subscriptions long before any income arrives.
The proposal to 'mortgage' the EBU's premises during the present economic situation is 'unwise' (to say the least !).
The proposals have been imposed without any real consultation :
The Club was not given any alternatives to P2P (apart from minor options on the levy.
P2P was approved by 82-52 by the 'Shareholders' – who are nominated by the County bodies who themselves are almost solely concerned with national and local competitions and have no authority to speak for members or clubs – this has been recognised by Staffordshire & Shropshire CBA who consulted all the local clubs before voting against P2P.
Members have never been consulted although a magazine is distributed every 2 months.
(Members are invited to sign on theNotice Board to show the level of support within the Club)
3rd May 2010
An appeal has gone out (from Stephen Green of Coventry Bridge Club) to most EBU affiliated Bridge Clubs asking if the Club approved of P2P. If they oppose P2P they are asked to support an EGM of the EBU to reverse the decision.
Tonight I am sending the attached letter, questionnaire and petition to as many Bridge Clubs in England as I can find the email details for. If you are not the Chairman of the club, I would be grateful if you could send on to him or her.
The objective is to establish how all clubs are reacting to the EBU’s P2P plan and I am looking to have all the replies back by 10thFebruary. If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to send me a note
Dear Bridge Club Chairman, 18 January 2009
EBU Pay to Play Proposals
You are no doubt all too aware that the Shareholders’ vote in June 2008 was 52 to 31 in favour of the EBU proposals for Pay to Play (P2P). Like ourselves in Coventry Bridge Club you probably have many members who generally support the EBU, but who are dismayed with the P2P plan and surprised at how many shareholder votes were cast in favour despite what appears to be such a strong feeling against the plan at club and individual level. This letter to all affiliated clubs aims to discover what the feeling at club level really is to help determine whether support exists to try and stop the EBU progressing any further with their plans by means of calling for an EGM. For your reference, and to go alongside the EBU publicity, I have listed at the foot of this letter the main objections to P2P I have collated from talking to other club and county representatives.
At Coventry we regard the prospect of forcing our members to join the EBU and then recording all their playing sessions as an unwanted imposition and will consider either total disaffiliation from the EBU or find a legal alternative that combines both options. I imagine these are difficult and upsetting decisions for all of us to be considering. It was interesting to see that the famous Acol club in London has already withdrawn from the current EBU Master Points scheme from the start of 2009 and has created its own ranking system. It may be quite difficult to now bring them back into the fold and strengthens the argument for taking action now rather than wait for the EBU’s contract and other details to be published, before many more vote with their feet.
We do not wish to take further action without sufficient support, so please respond whether you agree or not with our view. I would be grateful if you would email me back the attached questionnaire by 10 February 2009. I also attach a petition-style form which you may find useful to put up in your club to help establish the views of your members, the results of which may be useful at a later date if and when we present to the EBU.
Please be assured that all responses to me will be confidential and I will not release any club-specific details without permission. However I will of course send you back a summary of the results. At this stage we are not proposing any alternative strategies, but these will clearly have to be created if sufficient of you agree with our plan to halt P2P,
Thank you for your attention,
Stephen Green ,Coventry Bridge Club
Objections to P2P
The principle that clubs will either be “100% in” or “100% out” thereby creating unnecessary division
The administrative burden on clubs to manage the P2P systems and complexity
Rather than promote membership, P2P acts in the reverse
Is a costly distraction from the main objectives for the EBU
Social players will be subsidising the more competitive players
Financial risk to the national and county organisations
The consultation process leading to the “Yes” vote failed to properly listen to or give airtime to alternative strategies
The possibility of a high level of disaffiliation could seriously damage the viability of many County Associations, as well as the EBU.
Coventry Bridge Club
P2P Questionnaire for Bridge Clubs in England
Please highlight your answers
Name & Role of Person completing this form:
Club: County Affiliation:
1 – The June 2008 Vote
How did you advise your county representative(s) to vote?
Did not advise
Did your county encourage you to make your views known to them?
Kind of...please explain....
Did your county represent your view with their vote(s)?
Yes – but after much persuasion
No – but they took the majority view of the clubs
No – they took the minority view of the clubs
2. The Future
2.1 Does your club now support the EBU’s P2P plan?
Yes – with no reservations
Yes – with these reservations:
2.2 If P2P is implemented is your club likely disaffiliate from the EBU?
Yes & No ... we are likely to affiliate but will also look for a legal alternative to protect the interests of the Members of our Club who do not want to be EBU or County Members
If there is sufficient national support, would your club be prepared to request your county representatives to support an EBU EGM to stop P2P?
2.4 Any other thoughts or specific proposals for an alternative strategy?
We the undersigned members of..................................................................Bridge Club have considered the effect of the EBU Pay-to-Play proposals on the future and unity of the Bridge playing community and..
.. ask the EBU to halt the implementation of the Pay-to-Pay proposals
.. support the Pay-to-Play proposals
.. have no strong views on the matter
EBU Member ?
26th June 2009
The English Bridge Union is the game's national governing body. It is owned by, answerable to and exists in order to serve its members. It is totally non-profitmaking. Much of the work is carried out by unpaid volunteers including the Directors.
The EBU provides
The infrastructure for the game, ensuring that fairness operates at every level, so you know you will be playing by the same rules in any affiliated club, local or national tournament.
Tournament director training.
Teacher training to encourage more people to learn, improve and take part in the game.
Development of education programmes for schoolchildren, students and adults.
Selection, support, training and practice at all levels for our international teams.
Can play in our wide range of tournaments and competitions at club, county, national and international level including local leagues and simultaneous events.
Earn Master Points to measure their progress and that of their friends through the various categories from club master all the way up to grand master.
Enjoy our members' magazine English Bridge, with six copies every year covering news and views on bridge across the world, bridge celebrities, tournaments and results, education, tips on improving play, director training, internet bridge and all the news and Master Point promotions.
Can attend specialist master classes with outstanding bridge teachers and celebrities
Receive a free 18-month pocket diary with clear listings of our tournaments and competitions, plus information on all aspects of the game.
Can obtain advice on any aspect of the game ranging from how to start a new club to questions on scoring or even ethics.
Benefit from discounts on all bridge equipment at competitive prices from the EBU shop.
Contribute through their membership of the EBU to the furtherance of the game we all love.
Affiliated Clubs benefit from
Reduced cost Public Liability Insurance, expected to fall in price further from April 2009.
Six issues a year of Club Focus, the new EBU electronic newsletter carrying a wide range of interesting, entertaining and informative items including articles with helpful suggestions for Clubs ranging from ways to boost membership to how to apply for a Lottery grant.
The services of the EBU Club Liaison Officer, who can be contacted at any time for help and advice: email@example.com
The services of the EBU Communications Officer, who can help with publicity for your club and events: firstname.lastname@example.org
The EBU website is a treasure trove of information and resources where you can
Read the latest Bridge news.
Download a Model Club Constitution
Download blank Convention Cards, which you can fill in yourself, as well as ready prepared Convention Cards for Standard Benjy, Acol, etc.
Download the latest Orange Book (Handbook of EBU Directives)
Download the White Book (EBU Tournament Directors' Guide).
Find information about the various EBU Committees
Learn all about how to play and teach Mini-bridge.
Enter for competitions and follow results.
And much more….
The EBU is at the forefront of publicizing and promoting bridge nationally
It provides press releases to all the national media.
It places articles on Bridge in magazines and newspapers.
It has recently completed a pilot TV Bridge program which it is hoped will lead to a series comparable to Countdown.
It has recently sent successful teams of bridge players to national TV quiz shows, which helps promote the game.
The EBU is currently
Working towards attaining charitable status as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). It will advise clubs on the advantages and disadvantages of charitable status when the new legislation comes in (due Spring 2009).
Co-operating with other agencies in the scientific investigation and publicizing of the health benefits of playing Bridge: increased mental fitness, reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, enhanced immune system, benefits associated with a healthy social life, etc.
Developing a new National Rating System – very popular in other countries.
With the advent of Universal Membership and Pay-to-Play in April 2010
All members of EBU affiliated clubs will automatically be able to benefit from all of the above services and without paying a separate EBU membership fee.
There will be no charges for Master Points.
The following additional services will be provided, to those affiliated clubs who wish to receive them:
Scoring program - one free licence per club
Computer deals and hand records – free of charge
Web site hosting – free for one year
Access to online club committee forum – free of charge
Exclusive online club night once a week - free
Club directors’ handbook – free of charge
Club managers’ handbook – free of charge
This year the EBU gave each of its paid-up affiliated clubs a free copy of the new Law Book worth approximately half the annual affiliation fee (depending on county).
The EBU P2P (Pay-to-Play) proposals, although passed by a 52-31 majority at the Shareholders meeting in June 2008, are still being resisted by Clubs up and down the country. It is generally felt that there is a large majority of members and clubs opposed to the concept of compulsory EBU membership and central control over master points and finance and who are upset over the lack of real consultation.
8th June 2009