UMS and online bridge

Universal Membership Subscription is the way by which the vast majority of EBU members pay their subscription to the EBU. For a small number who don’t belong to an affiliated club there is also the option to pay directly.

The way UMS works is that a part of the table money from any game organised by or on behalf of an affiliated club is the player’s subscription which is passed on to the EBU. For the current financial year this amount is 40p, and usually a small extra amount to go to the player’s county.

This is not a payment specifically for master points, or for NGS, or for the magazine, and it is not a charge to the club, but it is a subscription passed on by the club which enables the players who have paid it to belong to the national body for duplicate bridge in England. This subscription does provide master points, NGS and English Bridge magazine as appropriate, but it also funds our junior teams, pays some of our international expenses and our regulation of the game, allowing us to provide assistance to members and clubs whenever they have administrative, disciplinary or procedural problems.

This arrangement has been in place for the last decade, but the pandemic of the last few months, together with the consequent rapid expansion of online bridge, has led to some uncertainty among a few clubs and members as to how online games should be dealt with in respect of UMS.

The simple answer is that for bridge events organised by or on behalf of an affiliated club, the club needs to pass on UMS for each of the players in the game, in exactly the same way as they would have done for an equivalent face-to-face game. There are however safeguards available for clubs that would otherwise suffer financial hardship from this.

This applies whether or not the club is part of our Virtual Club scheme on BBO, and it applies to any organised game whether it is pairs, teams, league or knockout. Master points and NGS are available if appropriate, but even if a club does not want them, UMS is still payable.

There are some events that do not have to be paid for because they are licensed to another body, such as Bridge Club Live where some payment for their members is passed on to the EBU, or because the games are organised by the EBU itself on Bridge Base Online or Funbridge. Other games that have always had exemption from UMS, such as properly constituted Novice Sessions or the annual free game/s available to all clubs continue to be free.

Any club that wants advice about the practicalities of submitting sessions should contact our Club Liaison Officer, Jonathan Lillycrop at jonathan@ebu.co.uk.