Club Management Focus: Spring 2015

Bridge as a sport

We hope you are all aware of the recent news, and media coverage, regarding a judge’s ruling that a judicial review could be undertaken in to Sport England’s refusal to recognise bridge as a sport. All members on our email list were sent a summary of the situation, but to summarise:

  • The judge has granted permission for the review to be undertaken – this is not a ruling in our favour, merely an opportunity to have the case reviewed further, but is certainly a positive step.
  • A successful appeal against Sport England’s position would have a number of benefits: the possibility for greater exposure of bridge, both as an activity itself, and of the benefits it offers (educational, mental health, social) to many groups in society; more opportunity for bridge to be offered as an activity by sport/recreation providers; the opportunity for some of our teams to compete in some competitions which only accept entries from ‘sporting bodies’ (e.g. entry in to the World/European Universities championships must be done through a nation’s sports authority – Sport England will not endorse England entering a team so we are currently unrepresented – possibly the only European team in this position); the possibility for more sources of funding to be available, both to the EBU, and directly to bridge groups (clubs, counties, community groups, etc) at all levels; a greater likelihood of success in the VAT appeal – with the resulting benefits that can generate.
  • The appeal is based on the fact there should be consistency of implementation of existing parliamentary standards. The last time parliament ruled on ‘what is a sport’ – in the Charities Act in 2011 – they specifically included mind sports under the ‘sports’ umbrella. Bridge is recognised as a mind sport. It stated that sport is an activity which requires physical or mental skill or exertion. Sport England – a government funded body – is choosing to use a much older definition, put in place by the European Union in 1992. We are seeking an update in Sport England’s criteria so that it is inclusive, consistent, and up to date with modern thinking and the intentions of parliament.
  • We are seeking consistency with other European countries – such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland – which recognise bridge as a sport, and for Sport England to be consistent with what is recognised by the International Olympic Committee, and Sport Accord (the organisation for all Olympic and non-Olympic sport federations).

We hope that all clubs and members will support the actions taken by the board to pursue the case, and recognise the benefits to bridge players, and to society as a whole, of a successful appeal, and also the sound foundations on which the case is based.

When there is any further news to report then this will be communicated to all members on our email list.