£50 rebate for EBU Virtual Clubs

Dear Club Chairs & Treasurers
Club Number:

I am writing to you as a secretary or treasurer of a club which has been involved in setting up a club in our BBO Virtual Clubs scheme to say that we will be offering a £50 rebate to all such clubs who have now signed up and have run at least eight games by the end of August, when the next change to the split of money is due to take effect. This rebate is in part to thank you for supporting the scheme and also in recognition that there may have been some aspects of the financial arrangements that were unexpected to you.

I understand that a number of you have been surprised by the short notice given for the change in the percentage fee charged by BBO. We have all, including BBO, been trying to adjust to new circumstances over the last few months, making many changes at very short notice, and now we are facing the reality that the short term has gone on rather longer than we had hoped or expected. So when we originally made these arrangements, I think many clubs expected to be back to face-to-face bridge before the higher charges came into effect and therefore didn't worry too much about what would happen when they did. 

Similarly, BBO were rushing just to get things up and running for us as quickly as possible, and weren't always as clear about the detail of our arrangements or the forthcoming changes as they might have been. They have had a great deal to do and quite a bit of investment to make to enable all of this to happen and in my dealings with them they have always tried to be helpful to us.

On the plus side the Virtual Club scheme has allowed you to run games for your own members, or in conjunction with other clubs or as a county for your constituent clubs, of any size and at any time of day. This is what we were told was wanted and the numbers of games I see running every day, keeping members in touch with their friends from their bridge clubs, is evidence that this has been widely welcomed and in that sense it has been a big success, with over 170 Virtual Clubs formed.

Since everything has changed in such a fast-moving way, in the online bridge world as in most other spheres, this has stimulated innovation and we know that there are several alternatives to the current arrangements for online clubs being developed by a number of other organisations, and when they reach the point of being practical alternatives to what you have now, we will ensure you are made aware of them. 

You are not tied in to your current arrangement with BBO, so when there is a different way of doing things that suits you better, you will be able to take advantage of it. Of course for many of you, your players are now familiar with BBO and won’t want to have to adjust to another platform, and clubs may prefer not to need to have a method for taking payments offline, but these will be decisions that you will be able to make for yourselves.

I think we all now not only realise that this period is going on for longer than we thought, but also that some amount of online bridge will continue for quite some time afterwards, possibly always, alongside face-to-face bridge when it does re-start, so most clubs are likely to need to make decisions about online bridge that will affect your club for longer than you had originally expected.

To conclude, I do hope this £50 rebate will come as a welcome balance to any of the unexpected aspects of the Virtual Club arrangements. If you have already run eight games as a virtual club, the payment will be added to your club EBU account in the usual way in the next few days. If you have not yet run that many games, we will be happy to make this transfer when you have.


Gordon Rainsford
Chief Executive
English Bridge Union


This email has been sent to sam@ebu.co.uk in your capacity as an EBU Club or County Official. If you wish to update this please let us know - kay@ebu.co.uk.

Read online at https://www.ebu.co.uk/dynamic/sendy/w/tNCERMVSEbasY63h7ohTCg

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