THE ASSOCIATION OF RUNNING CLUBS
THE FIRST 18 MONTHS.
Association of Running Clubs (ARC) commenced
operations on the 1st April 2007 as a
governing body for road, cross country and fell
running. ARC was established because implementation of
the Foster Report removed effective democracy and
foisted a bureaucratic, high cost, governing structure
onto clubs and their members without any option. Road
running clubs in particular saw no advantage for their
branch of the sport and believed that the governing
body would continue to have little interest in the
mass of road runners and treat the sport as no more
than a cash cow to fund elite athletics.
the outset, one or two well placed individuals with
vested interests, attempted to stop the launch of ARC
but generally speaking, especially as it became
apparent that ARC was a serious efficiently run
organisation with a determination to enforce good
safety standards, the powers that be in UKA and EA
have so far taken a pragmatic and non hostile attitude
to the existence of ARC.
first task was to draw up ARC’s minimum standards for
road and cross country and trail running. The emphasis
has been to design simple safe procedures that
minimise bureaucracy and administration for both the
member club and for ARC itself.
the new governing body set about producing its own
competition rules. Now ARC has rules for road, cross
country, trail and fell running.
difficult problem was course measurement. Much to
their credit the course measurers believed that their
emphasis should be to ensure that road running took
place on accurately measured courses, regardless of
the Permitting Authority. Following discussion with
the measurers ARC races now have a separate race
measuring system with their own course measurement
logo. Almost all course measurers are prepared to
measure ARC courses. ARC has recruited a number of
measurers from its own members. It has funded the
training and equipment of these measurers and by so
doing has plugged some difficult to fill vacancies in
time has passed the sport has adapted to and mostly
accepted that clubs may belong to different governing
bodies. Many cross country leagues include races
organised under ARC Rules and many county championship
races have an ARC permit. Indeed there can be few
regular runners in the south or the midlands who have
not participated in an ARC permitted race.
little more than 18 months activity ARC has 140
affiliated clubs with over 13000 members. So far it
has issued 200 permits for races during 2008.
Interestingly its membership includes 5 track and
has forced important changes onto the sport:
Competition from ARC led UKA to reduce its race
charges by 55%. A development that was enormously
beneficial to race organisers.
Competition from ARC has led to improvements in the
cover provided by the UKA insurance policy.
Competition from ARC has made it difficult for
England Athletics to increase their £5 per runner
registration fee which has exacerbated the financial
problems that have led to the recent sudden and
dramatic restructuring of England Athletics.
originated from a strategic review by the road running
representatives within ABAC. It is a totally separate
Association but retains close ties with ABAC and
shares many of its views. It encourages its members to
join ABAC and hopes that those road running clubs
within ABAC that are not yet ARC members will
affiliate to ARC in the near future. Both
organisations have had a positive effect in combating
the quango inspired structures and policies engendered
by the Foster Report and are leading the way towards
proper democratic representation and governance for
the backbone of athletics – the Clubs.
prepared by ABAC and displayed on the ARC website
with the kind permission of ABAC.
RUNNING LATEST PROPOSALS - LOOK BEHIND THE SPIN! -
UK Athletics so-called 'Road Running Leadership Group'
(RRLG) has recently announced a new licence
system and a virtual on-line running club. However, if one
ignores UKA's usual hype and spin and gives the proposals
some more thoughtful analysis, a very different picture
emerges - one of increasing UKA control, serving of certain
vested interests and further marginalisation of clubs.
At present club members pay the entry fee set by the race
organisers with 'unattached' athletes paying an additional
£2 levy, which should be passed on by the organisers to UKA.
In the case of a major event attracting 50,000 unattached
runners this should amount to £100,000. In past months UKA
had indicated that a significant proportion of this income
was likely to be passed on to county associations as part of
its support for grass roots athletics.
However, the new proposals are for a sliding scale fee for a
race licence based on the size of the race. No indication
is given in the RRLG announcement of what these fees might
be, but a figure of 40p per athlete for larger races has
been leaked to their friends in the editorial team of
Athletics Weekly. Simple maths indicates that the
'commercial' race with 50,000 unattached entrants would now
pay £20,000 - a potential saving for the organisers of
In contrast a small club race attracting say 100 club
runners and 20 unattached athletes would pay at least 40p
for each entrant (probably more) - a minimum total of £48
plus for their permit. Even if the unattached
runners still paid an extra £2 levy each, the organising
club would be worse off by at least £8.
And there is a big if. Unattached athletes joining
the UKA virtual 'on-line running club' (no doubt for a
handsome membership fee) would no longer have to pay any
additional levy to the race organiser. The RRLG make great
play of organising clubs now being able to keep all of the
entry fees and levies but, if the on-line club is
successful, there will be less and less unattached levies
for organisers to collect. However, they will be expected
to pay UKA for their licence based upon the total number of
Clubs have much to offer unattached athletes but many
runners are attracted initially by the fact that club
members do not have to pay the unattached levy. A runner
who has already paid out a significant fee to join the UKA
on-line club is far less likely to be willing to pay an
additional fee to join his local club - UKA are trying to
move further towards eliminating clubs and dealing directly
So we will see increased UKA control and the further
marginalisation of clubs. But what about the vested
interests? The on-line running club will represent a huge
database of runners which should be of great commercial
benefit to the organisers of major races, and to those
supplying athletic equipment and publications. Does it come
as any surprise that four of the members of the UKA
appointed (not elected) RRLG come from such
organisations, with no-one representing smaller club-organised
These proposals will certainly be of benefit to their
interests and to UKA's, but to the detriment of clubs and
their members. Clubs should do everything in their power to
ABAC comment. The self appointed and UKA backed RRLG has
done a complete about face and dumped earlier plans to levy
unattached athletes and pass monies to County Associations.
It is a tribute to ARC initiatives that swingeing changes
have been made to earlier RRLG proposals and even UKA’s
Chairman, Ed Warner has acknowledged that ARC had provided
the RRLG with effective competition. But whereas on the face
of it the latest proposals are less onerous on individuals
the effect on clubs could be devastating.
And what of the Counties? They no longer issue permits for
road races and will no longer receive revenue from road
races. It does not take an Einstein to work out that with
further marginalization County Associations will disappear
and with them the vast number of officials who make possible
the numerous summer and winter competitions for grass roots
And finally we note that RRLG plan to become democratic next
year when the founding officers will be replaced by elected
individuals. What a nonsense. Having put in place a scheme
to marginalize clubs the representatives from the big race
organisers will walk away safe in the knowledge that their
plans are unlikely to be undone.
prepared by ABAC and displayed on the ARC website
with the kind permission of ABAC.
ATHLETICS? March 07
In early March
England Athletics (EA) issued its 'Affiliation
Guidelines' stating that it '……. requires the
registration of a club and its members'. The initial
affiliation fee for each club is £50 with an additional
£3 fee for 'each competing member aged 11 or over'. The
latter fee will rise to £5 in 2008 and further increases
are likely in future years to pay for the staffing and
other costs involved in operating the undemocratic
bureaucracy that is England Athletics.
Many clubs are seeking guidance on
how to approach this demand for their money and
information about their members. Ultimately the
decisions must rest with clubs and their members but
ABAC wish to assist this process by setting out the
options available to clubs.
To affiliate or not?
particularly the smaller road running clubs, will be
considering the pros and cons of affiliating to EA. The
costs to all clubs will be greater than their previous
affiliation to the Territorial Associations with the
increase to £5 per member already being introduced in
2008. Who knows what the costs will be after that, with
the huge expense of running the EA Regions to be met?
Reliable estimates have placed the cost at £40 per
athlete. In Scotland it is currently £22 per registered
many clubs will be asking what they get from affiliation
to EA. Automatic insurance for EA permitted events is
often cited as a benefit of affiliation, but an
alternative is now available in the form of the
Association of Running Clubs (ARC). The ARC provide
member clubs and events they organise with comprehensive
civil liability insurance for a fraction of the costs of
affiliation to EA and without all the attendant
administration. Details are available on the ARC
For clubs who
are looking for appropriate insurance and less
bureaucracy this would certainly seem to be the best
solution, providing members are not particularly
bothered about competing in events within the UKA/EA
system (see below). In such events their athletes are
likely to be regarded as unattached and could be subject
to the usual surcharge on entry fees (currently £2).
Which members to
EA and UKA will
undoubtedly insist on athletes competing within their
Championships being registered with EA. Unfortunately
the territories (Midlands, North and South) in accepting
their downgraded roles as 'competition providers' have
adopted a supine approach to EA and from early autumn
onwards are likely to require EA registration for
competitors in their championships and track and field
leagues.(although we note the SEAA rejected plans to
affiliate itself to EA ) However, in practice it is
likely to prove impossible to 'police' the registration
system at most road races or track and field meetings,
particularly those taking entries on the day. The Track
and Field Leagues committee has stated it will not
monitor registered athletes because of the additional
Clubs wishing to
continue to compete in Championships and Leagues under
UKA, EA or territorial control should minimise their
contributions to EA coffers by only registering those
athletes likely to compete in such competitions,
and then leaving it as late as possible. The EA
Information Sheet sent out in January 2007 stated that
clubs will be excluded from team competition if they
have not paid by September (with a reminder to be issued
in July). Any additional athletes can be registered as
and when necessary.
The January 2007
EA Information Sheet stated that 'core data
requirements' would include e-mail, home and mobile
phone number, events competed in, ethnicity and
disability status. Pressure from ABAC and others have
forced EA into rapid backtracking and they now state
their 'minimum data requirement' as: first name,
surname, gender, date of birth, contact address,
postcode, first claim status.
regard most of this as non-contentious, although
interestingly the EA Individual Membership Form still
contains all their previous bureaucratic demands - quite
probably a sign of things to come!
No doubt secretaries of larger clubs will be salivating
at the prospect of providing all that information (much
of which they may not have) for several hundred members.
Even with the
current reduced 'minimum data requirement', there are
serious concerns about supplying members' addresses,
since this will give EA the opportunity to by-pass clubs
in communicating with athletes. Given the lies, half
truths and spin that have accompanied the discredited
Foster Report and the so-called 'modernisation' of the
sport, it is hardly surprising that many club officials
and others at grass roots level have serious misgivings
about EA's motives for demanding addresses. Some clubs
are known to be supplying their club secretary's address
as the contact point for all registered members,
although this might not go down well with the
secretary's local postie!
As we said in
our introduction, the final decision must rest with
clubs and their members but ABAC's advice can be
Affiliate to ARC
instead if you feel your club has no need for
competition under EA/UKA control;
If you feel you
must stay with EA:
register the minimum number of
athletes of 11 and over likely to compete in
events which can be effectively controlled by EA
provide as little data on
individual members as you can.
Alphabet Soup by Geoff Newton
An article which was
published by Athletics Weekly on 22nd March 2007
Reproduced here by kind
permission of Athletics Weekly and Geoff Newton
So after a bloody battle
“modernisation” has happened; but the conflict has not gone away.
The fell runners are on the verge of breaking away, Athletic clubs
have formed a pressure group called ABAC, Running clubs under ARC
are gearing up for independence, and the pages of AW are still
dominated by politics. Is this the fault of the “old farts in
blazers” or the “dictatorial empire building career professionals”?
In my opinion the causes of
the problem lie elsewhere. The conflict arises because (a) although
the means of delivering the administration of athletics has been
“modernised” the priorities have not been brought up to date and (b)
“modernisation” was driven by the agenda of the Government not the
wishes and aspirations of the grass roots.
There have been a lot of
changes in the last 40 odd years, both in the outside world and
within athletics. Running has become a major sport for adults and
there seems to be no end to its growth, spawning a multitude of new
running clubs whose structure was markedly different from that of
traditional athletic clubs.
Fell running has become a
major discipline in its own right. By contrast track and field is
becoming a minority sport for adults. However, track and field is
still popular with youngsters.
Another trend has been the
increasing isolation of the different branches of the sport. Before
the 1970’s athletics was seasonal. Yet today we find that indoor
facilities mean that track and field is a year round activity. Road
races and multi-terrain races have multiplied so there is a wide
choice of races year round.
Before the 1970’s people
mostly retired from active competition well before the age of 40 and
often then became coaches, officials and club officers. Now the
“masters” form a majority of adult competitors in many sectors of
the sport. These same “masters” still play a major part in
organising events and managing clubs which makes a nonsense of the
number-crunching at head office which neatly pigeonholes a person in
one role as a competitor, a coach, an official or a volunteer.
A trend which athletics
shares with most other sports is that adult participants are
becoming, on average, less committed and competitive and more
recreational. There is more novelty and diversity and you can also
experiment with other sports with high running content such as
orienteering, triathlon and adventure racing.
The priorities at UKA have
not changed despite “modernisation”. The sport is still administered
myopically with the old track and field dominated priorities of the
1960’s. In theory the Policy Support Teams (PST’s) representing the
various sectors of athletics should be able to represent the
different interest groups but it would seem whoever they report to
either takes no notice or asks the wrong questions.
However it’s worse than
that. Superimposed on the old priorities come the priorities of the
Government. “Modernisation” was imposed from outside not driven from
within the sport. I have no argument against the aim of improving
standards of athletics performance or good governance, but the good
bits of the Government package came with a lot of other baggage.
Perhaps I should explain at
this point that I have a stake in a number of other sports. I am in
the position to see that the whole package of “modernisation”, from
the hubs, development officers, club futures and Clubmark etc etc;
is not something tailored to our specific requirements but is being
applied across all sports in a “one size fits all” manner with
varying degrees of success.
Let’s look at Government
agendas. First of all the Government is primarily interested in
sport which makes the back pages of the newspapers. This just
reinforces the track and field domination of existing priorities. No
votes in road running or fell running and precious few in cross
country . Secondly, there is social engineering. That is equity,
child protection etc; not necessarily controversial but offering
endless scope for exercising the third and most important agenda, -
that of job creation.
We have lost countless
industries and the remainder have passed their manufacturing to
China, our food is grown anywhere but in the UK, office work is
heading to India. But people still need jobs. One source of jobs is
sports and leisure. Here in athletics, competitions and clubs are
currently organised by participants giving their labour for free.
Job creation is the real reason why the Government would like sports
like ours to be run by paid professionals not amateurs. A whole new
career of “sports administrator” has come into being.
Currently the taxpayer and
the Lottery pay for all this. However when the legacy money runs
out, when lottery money is diverted to the NHS, when the unrealistic
expectations of 2012 are not met, the Government will progressively
reduce funding leaving us to make up the difference and pay for a
bloated administration through individual membership subscriptions.
Of course, this drive for a
professionally- run sport can be taken further. Clubs could be run
by professional administrators. Some running events are already
being organised by profit making organisations. More coaches could
become paid. There is even the possibility of franchising. The job
creation possibilities are endless. The Government would be happy to
see competitors reduced to the status of consumers who are faced
with Hobson’s choice – take it or leave it. Already UKA has a
tendency to act first and consult later, if at all.
One does not need a PhD to
see that at best this simple sport of ours could become very
expensive and at worst it will be unsustainable in its present
It is there a way out?
Managing the diverse sport that athletics now is will be very
difficult, even in ideal circumstances. Why should the Road Running
Leadership Group have any more effect than the Road Running PST? It
will be like a sticking plaster to mend a broken leg.
My solution? Road and fell
running are solvent and self sufficient. ARC and FRA should develop
and run the domestic affairs of these sectors without contributing
money (including unattached levies) to, or receiving it from,
England Athletics (EA), UKA etc. Championships and club-based
competition including cross country should be accessed by
affiliating to the various leagues and county, area and territorial
associations rather than EA.
Only competitors with
international aspirations need affiliate to EA in the aforementioned
disciplines. A streamlined UKA/EA should deal with international
competition in all disciplines and continue for the foreseeable
future (whatever that is) to administer and develop track and field,
hopefully with real input from ABAC.
Geoff Newton has been a
cross-country and road racing addict for more than 40 years.