Sports funding ‘critical’ following YUSU budget cuts

Sports clubs have been told that “there just isn’t the money” to replace essential kit or help them out of unforeseen financial difficulties next year, placing a large number of them on the edge of financial insolvency.

YUSU, despite receiving a larger block grant this year than in 2008/09, has reduced the amount allocated to York Sport from £124,000 to £94,000, of which £67,000 goes directly to clubs in grants. The remainder is used for committees, facility hire from the Sports Centre, members’ insurance, and BUCS affiliation.

Following severe cuts to sports club’s grants last year, many were forced to ask York Sport for financial assistance. Increased transport costs, and the mandatory change in kit colours following a re-branding of York Sport, led to unexpected expenditure. This year, however, emergency help will not be available.

Rosamund Wood, York Sport Treasurer, has described the situation as “critical”, and voiced concerns regarding the financial stability of the Union’s sports’ wing.

“We bailed out a lot of clubs last year. If they are forced to turn to us again, we don’t have the financial support to keep them running,” she explained.

Emily Scott, York Sport President, defended the cuts, saying “the YUSU budget only went up slightly, but costs have increased by a larger proportion.”

Despite Wood’s predictions, Scott maintained that if necessary, “YUSU will of course offer support [to York Sport] should the need for it arise.”

Many clubs have expressed worry that a shortfall will have to be passed onto members, who already have to pay for kit and York Sport membership in addition.

Scott, however, argued that the clubs did not have to pass the cost directly onto members. “Evidently sponsorship is hard to come by at the moment, but that does not mean that people should not try. Some clubs may indeed need to raise their membership prices, but they have also been encouraged to raise money through other means rather than just having an up-front cost that may well deter people from playing their sport,” she said.

One of the clubs in deepest financial trouble is the Boat Club, whose grant of £2,187.80 is less than half of what it received two years ago. President Ashley Haycock says that the money doesn’t even cover basic insurance for the equipment. “We simply have to charge members more. It also means that we can’t develop the club,” she said.

The members pay for their own personal river insurance which, when coupled with essential membership expenses, brings the cost of joining the rowing team to £211 for the year, with additional charges for race entries.

Haycock lays the blame firmly with York Sport. “Even on £5,000 we were never in a position to be able to buy new boats. The problem was Alex Lacy [last year’s York Sport President]. York Sport just doesn’t understand rowing as a sport. We have one of the best rivers in the country to row on, and for people who are serious about rowing, that will affect their choice of university,” she said.

The University Volleyball Club has also faced severe cuts. “Last year we got £600 at the start of the year, which was insufficient. We were then given an extra £700 for travel costs. We ran through £1,300 last year,” explained President Josh Chipman.

The club’s grant for this coming year is just £394.81, an amount that Chipman says could lead to serious problems for the club.

“The option of going cap-in-hand to York Sport is not an option. I have spoken to York Sport and was told that there is next to no chance of getting more money. It was made very clear to us that we would have to charge more,” Chipman added.

Even clubs with similar sized grants to last year are feeling the squeeze. Mens Football Club President Greg Gardner, said that while he was not disappointed with the grant of £2,675.34, it still might not be enough. “Last year we had to get an emergency grant from YUSU due to increased fuel costs. We’re having to watch everything we spend,” he said.

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