Hockey Ireland has deferred plans to change its affiliation fees structure to the 2018 AGM following a decision made at a board meeting just prior to last Sunday’s AGM.
The proposed change would have seen clubs charged per player – both adult and child – rather than via the current system which sees pay fees solely based on the amount of adult teams fielded.
The change would have likely seen sizeable increase in the fees each club with a strong youth section pays, something that drew widespread upset on social media on Friday when The Hook posted notice of the AGM.
Concerns were raised that the change was a fundraising exercise with some suggesting that levying the youth would simply be a “stealth tax” for the senior programmes which have suffered from serious under-funding compared to their ambitions.
But, at the AGM on Sunday, Hockey Ireland Chief Executive Jerome Pels confirmed that funds raised from the youth levy will be ring-fenced solely for club and youth development initiatives.
There were a number reasons for the deferral. Firstly, the provider of the new registration system to administer the new affiliation fees has not been confirmed with three systems being considered.
Additionally, Hockey Ireland wants to hold roadshows to explain the benefits of the proposed system, a major concern on social media prior on Friday.
Key among the bonuses will be a new insurance scheme for Hockey Ireland members while the new registration will provide tangible data that will go a long way to approaching grant and sponsorship opportunities.
Pels, in addressing the AGM, said that the system is a product of research from the other major sporting organisations in Ireland and their memberships to get an idea about how best to proceed.
Currently, Hockey Ireland only has the data on its memberships submitted by clubs, something that has been erratic and, in some cases, has not been submitted at all.
With solid information on demographics and population, he said that Hockey Ireland can put in legitimate applications and proposals. Pels said that the organisation has been in the room with potentially interested sponsors but, without reliable numbers, chances have been missed.