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City of York Athletic Club's anger at affiliation fees rise
CITY of York Athletic Club chief Neil Hunter today accused England Athletics of “looking to make a fast buck” after the governing body slapped grassroots clubs with huge rises in affiliation fees.
The Huntington Stadium-based outfit faces a bill of about £4,500 next year after seeing those fees, which England Athletics charges to register club athletes to take part in competition, as much as quadruple.
Charges for adults will rise from £5 to £20 from April next year – and will continue to rise by £1 every 12 months until 2016, while parents of youngsters aged under 11 will also be hit with an optional £15 fee if they want their children to be attached to the governing body.
That levy will increase to £18 over the next four years.
Hunter, chairman of the 650-strong club, has refused to pass on the rises to his members, saying the increase will be absorbed by existing funds.
With athletics clubs having been swamped by eager new recruits in the wake of the hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic games, a cynical Hunter believes England Athletics are simply trying to “cash in while the going is good”.
“As a club, we dare not pass these fees increases onto the members,” Hunter said. “The business case for the new stadium, and our new athletics track, is predicated on a fairly consistent number of members.
“We know that if we pass these on there will either be athletes who don’t compete or drop out of the club.
“We are going to absorb this. 170 of our members are under-11s and we would love to affiliate them with England Athletics but we are not going to affiliate the U11s unless we can find additional funding or find a way to make it sustainable.
“You only have to pay for members who compete at the club and not all our members will compete. About 300 of our members will so it is a lot of money. It is an extra £4,500 to find from club funds. It cuts to the heart of our membership strategy.
“What England Athletics have done is patently ignore any strategy that a club may have.
“At the moment, we can’t afford it. We are working really hard to try to attract new sponsors and have had talks with the council about the club’s development.
“I think this is short term opportunism. It is trying to make the most of this very high attendance we are getting after the Olympics and Paralympics without any thought of the impact it will have on those people who have been attracted to the sport.”
“That’s not the case,” England Athletics spokesman Andy Barber said when asked if the rise had been timed to coincide with a leap in participation as a result of the success of London 2012.
“It is the change in the way the sport will be financed,” he explained. “It is the realisation that we needed to make sure our sport was in a good shape for the games. As you come off the back of that, there are some clear indications that we have to move towards a more self sustaining model.”