City of York give athletics chiefs a run for their money

City of  York Athletic Club  chair Neil Hunter

City of York Athletic Club chair Neil Hunter

Published in Sport York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

CITY of York Athletic Club chiefs are celebrating after their governing body climbed down over huge rises in affiliation fees.

England Athletics have confirmed the annual charges adult club athletes pay to take part in competition will rise next April from £5 to £10 – instead of the £20 they had announced in the aftermath of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Neil Hunter, chair of City of York Athletic Club, accused the body of “looking to make a fast buck” when the fees were first mooted, believing England Athletics were looking to cash in after clubs were swamped by new recruits following the successful games.

The Press reported in October how City of York had faced a bill of about £4,500 after committing to shouldering the prospective increases rather than passing them on to members but, after joining with clubs across to the country to lobby England Athletics, they have achieved a breakthrough.

In an email to Hunter, Chris Jones, chief executive of England Athletics, said: “The fee will be set for one year and we will work closely with the sport through an open process of consultation to agree what it should be for the remaining three years to 2017.”

The original proposal threatened to see adult charges rise from £5 to £20 and then by a further £1 every year until 2016.

Parents of youngsters aged under 11 were liable to be hit with an optional £15 fee if they wanted their children to be attached to the governing body – a levy that would have increased to £18 over the next four years.

England Athletics previously said the intention behind the original proposals had been a desire to change the way the sport was financed and denied the rise had been timed to coincide with a leap in participation as a result of the success of London 2012.

Hunter said today: “If they had said it was £10 in the first place we probably would have said it seemed like great value but to impose £20 without any consultation would have grated.

“The point was that it seemed to smack of opportunism.

“I am quite proud of the governing body to have the guts to do a U-turn.

“They have realised that we are all contributors and have listened to what we have told them and backtracked.

“I am surprised. It is rare that an organisation U-turns and this shows that they really care about grassroots athletics.

“We will still shoulder the increase and we have announced another price freeze for 2013.”

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