The existence of the University Boat Club has been jeopardised following a drastic 80% reduction in budget for 2008-2009. The amount of money available to cover the club’s costs now stands at £1145, having been in excess of £5000 last year.
Consequently, the club have found it impossible to renew insurance policies – costing around £3000 – leaving their boats, boathouse and other equipment unprotected from theft and damage. Unable to afford compulsory on-board health and safety measures, the club may find themselves excluded from leading university regattas in the future.
Despite their standing as one of York’s most consistently successful sports clubs, UYBC now find their long-term plans scuppered by the failure of last year’s Athletic Union Committee to negotiate an adequate financial package. Although the club accepted the decision, they were not entitled to a process of appeal.
Lack of funds has caused the club to resort to approaching YUSU Student Services and even go as far as applying for the York Annual Fund – a highly sought- after non-sport specific grant. The club is unhappy, believing they should not be forced to resort to outside sponsorship, alumni funding or corporate grants.
Previously unobtrusive costs, such as transport hire, competition entrance fees and general maintenance are now being passed on to the club’s 140 members, who already commit £115 for annual society and York Sport membership.
Acts of vandalism in the vicinity of the club’s Fulford boathouse could now present the difference between folding or surviving if damage to the equipment stored there is incurred. Plans to upgrade the existing senior men’s fours boat, at a cost of £10,000, have been shelved in light of the cutbacks, as well as essential improvements to other equipment.
UYBC treasurer Raessa Chowdhury said: “We’re not asking for other sport’s budgets to be cut and redirected to us. We want the university and York Sport to understand that rowing is different and it needs more support than what we are getting this year.”
Alex Lacy, York Sport President, said, “I feel there’s a definite lack of fairness here. The current committee are working to secure the long-term future of the club.”
The club’s recent achievements have included the entire squad winning medals at the Trafford Head regatta two weeks ago and consistently outperforming rivals Leeds, Liverpool, Lancaster and Nottingham at the prestigious Henley Royal regatta. With a seemingly direct correlation between wealth and success in rowing, York’s budget cuts will now leave them trailing their main rivals.
“We want to be able to develop the club and the university’s reputation in the rowing arena further,” added a dissatisfied Chowdhury.