Welcome to the Spring edition of Club Management Focus 2020.
During these very difficult times it is fantastic to see so many people continuing to play bridge, albeit online. The EBU games on Bridge Base Online (BBO), the Lockdown League and Virtual Clubs are all thriving. We often hear that the number of people playing bridge is lower now than it was in times gone by; whilst that maybe true I find it very encouraging to see that there are still a great many people who have overcome the challenges of technology in order to keep playing this brilliant game that we all love! If you would like to play bridge online but need help to get going or you know of others at your club who need help getting started then please contact me either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on 01296 317206.
For me personally the last few weeks have been by far my busiest since joining the EBU: helping clubs and counties get their Virtual Clubs set up, as well as training club directors for BBO and directing games myself. We now have over 60 Virtual Clubs up and running and that number is growing every day. If your club would be interested in running an online duplicate just for your members then this is what a Virtual Club can provide you. More information as well as the application form can be found below.
We hope you will find the information below useful. Please let us know if there are topics you would like us to cover in future editions.
If you have any queries about any of the content in this newsletter then the best points of contact are likely to be myself Club Liaison Officer, Jonathan Lillycrop – email@example.com - or Communications Officer, Sam Kelly - firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know that this is a tough time for clubs and counties financially as well as for the EBU as a national organisation. Aside from trying to create a source of income, perhaps via the Virtual Clubs scheme mentioned below, the other thing for clubs to do is to try to reduce their costs. One suggestion for those clubs that rent premises, as distinct from hiring rooms, would be for them to contact their landlord and negotiate a rent reduction or holiday.
Another thing to consider is that your club may be eligible for Small Business Grant Funding which could get you a grant of up to £10,000. In order to qualify you will need to meet some criteria: the club will need to be a registered company/business with Companies House or be in receipt of small business rate relief if unincorporated, and named as the Non Domestic Rate Payer at your premises as of 17/03/2020. If this is your club’s situation we have a very useful description of what is involved provided by EBU member Alex Smalley, who is chair of Cheadle Hulme Bridge Club, which has successfully applied for this funding. If you need more information or advice about any of these ideas, please contact Club Liaison Officer, email@example.com.
This time of year is when a number of clubs would usually hold their AGM and it is concerning some that they are not able to do so in the current circumstances. It is worth remembering that it could be held as a virtual meeting using teleconferencing software such as Zoom. This is how the EBU Board and its sub-committees have been holding their regular meetings over the last few weeks, allowing us to consider how we can respond to the current situation and to plan for when it eases off.
For those clubs who don’t want to hold an AGM like that, it is worth looking at your constitution to see what provision it has to allow for unusual circumstances such as we are in. We will be happy to give advice on this to any clubs who are unsure what they are able to do to comply with their constitutional requirements.
We have information about playing online on the website and have been successfully running five EBU games on BBO every day since the middle of March. Nearly 5,000 people have played in our games, with about 80% of the players being EBU members along with a number of international visitors. Our largest game so far has been 88 tables and the busiest day was 13th April when we had 1076 player sessions, during a week when 1674 tables played in our games!
Not only does this bring in much-needed revenue to help keep the EBU running, but 1/3 of all the table money from these games is going into a fund specifically to benefit our clubs. In the first instance it will be used to reduce the club affiliation fees when they would be due in August.
More recently we have launched our Virtual Clubs scheme, which allows clubs (or counties) to run their own games whenever they like, restricted to their own members if they wish. It also provides a source of income for them, to help them cover those of their costs that have not gone away during the lockdown. Currently over 60 clubs and counties have taken advantage of this option and welcome the independence it brings.
Membership Development Officer, Tim Anderson, has recently written a blog post about the importance of our EBU Virtual Clubs.
The decision has been made to postpone the EBED Sims Pairs until later in the year. We will provide further details of when the event will take place once we have more information, we hope your club will think about supporting the event. One possibility is that it might be run online, in the way that Surrey has recently run a very successful sim pairs event to raise money for NHS workers.
Eight clubs took part in the Surrey heats (not all from Surrey, since the online format aids participation from wherever you might be), with 1,051 players playing a total of 1,663 sessions. After costs they expect to be able to donate almost £6,000 to the NHS Charities Together (https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk), a tremendous achievement that led one participant to comment that 'it felt like real bridge again'.
We have heard from some clubs of the success that they have had with creating online games for their members. We have set up a Google Docs so that clubs can share their own stories and read other clubs’ stories for inspiration of continuing to play bridge online.
Another place for clubs to discuss their ideas and share their experiences is on the EBU forums. There are a number of different forums there with different topics of interest, including a thread specifically set up for clubs to discuss their thoughts about the COVID-!9 situation and to plan for when the restrictions ease up.
Joining the EBU Forum is free and open to everyone. You do need to be approved to join, which helps us avoid spam posts, but just mention bridge as your reason for joining and you will be approved without question.
The second season of the EBU Lockdown League is now underway, following on from the success of the first season. 164 teams are playing in 12 divisions, with 8-board matches played four times a week. If you haven’t yet played and would like to enter a team for the next season, contact firstname.lastname@example.org who can give you more information about it. Teams will usually have to join in the lower divisions and work their way up.