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.
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