6.2 Entry Fees

General slalom chatter...rant about the bad, rave about the good
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Canadian Paddler
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6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Canadian Paddler » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:19 pm

To be introduced before lunch, to allow discussion over lunch.
The individual rule changes are not listed here, but are available on the agenda
Entry Fees
There are reports from several clubs, at all divisions, that when running a competition, it is very difficult to make a profit.
Many competitions are only viable because of catering and other activities separate from the actual competition. The levies will
be retained at the current level, adjusted for inflation, with all the increase being passed to the club. The intent is that entry fees
should be £20 for Premier and Division 1 competitions, £15 for Division 2 competitions and £10 for Division 3 and £8
Division 4 competitions.
All spelling errors are intentional and are there to show new and improved ways of spelling old words. Grammatical errors are due to too many English classes/teachers.
Old. Fat. Slow. Bad tempered. And those are my good points

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by chriswilde » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:55 pm

I’d like to see the evidence of races making losses and those which make a profit..... is this available?

We don’t want a sport that is not sustainable but I know that if I increase the cost of a product by 42% (same as increase in division 2 fees) Overnight I would simply not be able to sell it!?

This needs some seriously careful thought as in my opinion it will kill off the sport in the lower divisions.

Last edited by chriswilde on Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by CeeBee » Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:33 pm


Each individual club will be able to tell you what they make/do not make from running a Slalom Race but this is not information that we submit to the Slalom committee. The income from entries can be fairly easily calculated using the online results.

Our club can make money from running a cafe but this takes a lot of effort and manpower and is over and above running the race. Many Div 1/Prem venues cannot run a cafe e.g. Tryweryn, Lee Valley, Teesside, HPP.

Consider a Division 1 race with 150 competitor.

Entry Fee is £16.40.

Levy is 45% = £7.38 per entry
Timing fee is £1 per entry
Judging fee is £1 per entry
Prizes per day are about £225 per race day so £1.50 per entry
Hiring a pumped course estimated at £750 per day so £5 per entry
Club Volunteer travel expenses - none paid so everyone does it for the love of the sport
Club Volunteer accommodation expenses - none paid so everyone does it for the love of the sport
Tea/coffee/biscuits/cakes/sandwiches for volunteers £50 so £0.33 per entry
Sundries such as Stationary/judging sheets/stamps/printer ink, pens, bluetak,sellotape etc for event £15 so £0.10 per entry

Total expenditure £16.31 per entry so 9p profit.

Most slalom clubs who run events do so for the good of the sport and also to raise funds to run their clubs and develop slalom paddlers. It needs to be attractive to run a slalom race but agree that we do need to be very careful what we increase the fees by as this could cause numbers to drop and so income per paddler increases but income overall decreases. This is the same analogy as Income Tax. The best way to increase the money raised is to have more paddlers paddling at the smaller races. Less paddlers = less Income = Less profit to reinvest in the club.

At Division 1 and Premier races, the biggest cost is travel and accommodation. I think Div 1 and Prem could support a higher entry fee.

I would be concerned at £8 for a Division 4 race as for many of our new paddlers, they are also having to pay £5 for day membership in Scotland (which is not a good incentive to start slalom - £1 would be acceptable for day membership but £5 is ridiculous. They will often have just started and have also just paid club subscription fees too).

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by PeterC » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:40 pm

Races are failing to make profit and the slalom committee has supported clubs where a loss has been made. Catering is profitable for many but is an add on to the event and not always possible. Costs are increasingly challenging for clubs and come from a variety of sources e.g. renting portaloos, fields as well as the more obvious ones like water costs. Many fail to plan financially far enough in advance to consider applying for an enhanced fee and indeed it may be very difficult before you know how many paddlers are going to enter. To be absolutely clear this is not about in any way raising more money for the slalom committee who are not in any way going to benefit from this but to ensure that clubs are not subsidising events out of their own (or the Slalom Committees) budgets. The sport has no funding from sponsorship or elsewhere so has to be fully self funding. The problem, particularly in Scotland, with the day membership fees is a known issue and under active discussion with the associations. The proposal could be amended to allow organisers to charge less but the levies (where charged) would not go down and the slalom committee would not be likely to cover a subsequent loss. Slalom entry fees are amongst the lowest for any sporting event of a similar nature and the cost of the fees is a very small proportion of the total cost of attending an event.

There is no intent to kill off the sport rather a desire to continue to see clubs providing and supporting races. It will also hopefully free up a little more funding to support all the volunteers freezing or baking on the riverbank (its usually one or the other...) without which our sport simply would not exist.

Steve Holmes
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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Steve Holmes » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:15 pm

I can take the points raised. When I first saw the proposal I immediately thought that I would stop entering so many races as a vet. I’m at an event primarily to support my daughter, and such a price hike at div 2 level would see me not entering. How many others are in my position? For a family with 3 kids in div 2, the cost of entry has just gone from £52.20 to £90 for a weekend. That’s a significant increase.

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by chriswilde » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:46 pm

I will start this reply by saying that I have great respect for everyone who works so hard on a voluntary basis to run this sport. I think it is great and I only wish that I had more time to be able to contribute more! I would like to thank everyone who gives up their time, energy and resources to make it a great sport.

I can't argue with ceebee's reasoning and it stacks up for div 1 and premier races, where costs of venues are usually high and there are additional costs such as timing teams and judging teams, and there aren't additional revenue streams such as camping, catering and car parking. As I stated the sport has to be sustainable and if entry fees need to rise then I support this. It must not be the case that clubs are losing money by running races, they should be making a modest profit in order to ensure that the incentive is there to continue to run races.

HOWEVER, I am much more concerned with the lower divisions, I have just spent an hour on the river with a group of 12 paddlers who are in division 2, 3 and 4 and these are the ones who we need to ensure continue in the sport.

The proposed increases are 19% at division one and premier which is hefty but understandable. At division 2 it is 72%, at div 3 51%, and division 4 is 56%. Bearing in mind this is a major increase in the entry fees I assume that the research and data supporting it must be out there somewhere? How many races at each division are not making a profit, (are not sustainable?) and why are they not making a profit. The obvious one is venue hire (toilet hire), but also calendar clashes will have a bearing (as per the minutes of the last meeting) as will geographical location. What was the calculation which came to deem that 72% increase in division 2 fees is necessary.

I also assume that some market research has been conducted to ask the question to paddlers (and parents) of "if we increase the fee to this much next year what effect will that have on you in terms of whether you will attend more, the same or less races?" the fee proposals are in the August minutes so there has surely been an opportunity for this type of consideration to have taken place.

Many of the costs of running a race are fixed and do not vary depending on the number of competitors. At lower divisions it is extremely rare that the published limit is reached. The cost of hiring a venue, toilets, prizes etc. to run a race for 100 competitors for a weekend is very similar to the cost of doing the same for 200 competitors, so participation in the sport needs to be grown.

It has been said that the cost of entry fees is only a small part of the cost of a weekend's competition. This may be the case for division one and premier where paddlers are travelling long distances and staying off site in hotels or commercial campsites but this is not the case in the lower divisions. In the lower divisions it is common for more than one member of the family to compete at some level (as per Steve Holmes comment), the journeys are usually less than about 2 hours or 100 miles each way (£30) and camping (£20) the preferred form of accommodation, entry fees for say 2 paddlers, for two days with one paddler competing in K1 and C1 in division 2 would now be £90, nearly twice as much as the other associated costs (excluding food). To put this in context, my two children and I are going paddling on the dart for two days this weekend for a cost of £108 including fuel, accommodation and food!

Without a doubt if the fees increase in line with this proposal we will attend less races, we will paddle just as much but will compete less. If it drops below a certain number of races then it will be pointless competing which will be a real pity, but life will go on.

In summary I love this sport and I want it to be sustainable, however, as you will have guessed I think that the proposed fee increases are too big a step at the lower divisions and will result in less participation, which may make them counterproductive. Could an alternative proposal be made with a more modest increase in the basic fee and an increase in the value of the maximum enhanced fee be made? I do not have the information to determine what the correct fee needs to be to ensure that races are sustainable. I know that our club's division 3 and 4 race is profitable, but have no recent experience of running a division 2/3 race to determine this.

Of course I might be wrong about all this in which case if the proposal goes through as it stands I will just have to take it from there.

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by djberriman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:32 pm

The problem is some venues are easy to run and others are not. One may be near the club facilities, or at a venue and pretty much switch on, the biggest job being putting the gates out (on existing wires) and running tutty.

Others are literally a blank canvas, with everything having to be transported (weeks and days in advance), course built from nothing, toilets hired (guess the number as no idea how many will turn up), access paid for (a few hundred pounds) and relying on volunteers to make numerous trips at their own expense to get everything sorted. They generally rely on the retired or self employed.

So whilst two similar sized events may run, their costs and profits may be hugely different.

We need to manage the calendar better as clashing events can be the difference between profit and loss. We also need to ask whether we want a variety of venues as if the harder to run venues can not be run at a profit they will disappear.

We need to recruit more paddlers so events are full. The profit is in the difference between having a 2/3 full event (breakeven) and a full event (profit) as costs don't greatly increase.

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by JimW » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:49 pm

This is really difficult for me, it is basically the ongoing conundrum that keeps worrying me.

Our main race is one that is very difficult to make break even. If we didn't have some extras up our sleeves, the current entry fees would not cover our venue costs with our typical, or even best entry. We have however always sought to avoid enhanced entry fees by finding peripheral income, and have even managed to finish in profit most years, although we have once also received assistance from the committee, and once an agreement for assistance if required (we didn't require it in the end).

We are pretty well guaranteed all Scottish div 2 paddlers will enter, unless they have something else on. We will also get a reasonable number of Scottish div 3 paddlers, although numbers are affected by the fact that not all will have had a chance to paddle here previously and are too nervous to enter. These aren't nearly enough, we need to attract paddlers from other regions to enter. So we try to keep the costs down for them, we try to run on a bank holiday weekend so they can have a less stressful drive home, and we try to avoid clashing with any other div 2's because realistically we need to appeal as far south as the Midlands, which effectively puts us in competition with everyone else, irrespective of the distances used to determine calendar clashes.

So every year I look at a number of scenarios and estimate how many entries we need to break even without using enhanced entries.

But why not enhanced entries? Quite simply because we don't believe our venue is in the same league as the likes of HPP, and we therefore don't expect as many paddlers would be prepared to pay enhanced fees (and lets face it MCCs HPP div 2 is never hugely well subscribed, but who can tell if that is due to the increaed cost or fear of the venue?), so we would be trading more money per entry against fewer entries.

This proposal is much the same scenario, I would expect to get fewer entries, especially from further afield but also from Scottish paddlers who know they are nervous about our venue, although considerably more money per entry.
I simply can't envisage how it would work out, although I am going to be updating my financial spreadsheet later this week to see what it suggests.

Next year is already complicated by the loss of the bank holiday - the government moved it after we claimed our dates!

So that's the muddle I am in as an organiser, but how do I feel as a competitor?

Equally muddled!

I really don't keep track of my costs, entries, accommodation or travel, although I do try to minimise the accommodation part most of the time. My gut feeling is that the hike in fees will not affect how many races I enter, but I am not a parent and I only have my own fees to cover. Unfortunately I have been thinking I need to cut the number of races for other reasons, well mainly because I have crawled to the end of the season absolutely shattered from trying to do too much - I think there is a discussion point about that somewhere....

I think we all need to consult within our clubs and find out what paddlers and parents think - the market research Chris asked about...

Mike Mitchell
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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Mike Mitchell » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:20 pm

There are some good replies to this proposal and I believe the majority are against a big increase at Div 4,3,2 events.

Div 1 and Prem are different because the competitors want good Judging and timing. Also most of the sites are more expensive to book.

With numbers dropping at the lower divisions I would be inclined to leave the fee as it is. If a Club can't brake even or wants to make a profit then there is the option of enhanced entry fees.

I ran a Div 4 this year at a free of charge cost.[probably against the rules] This way I got all the Clubs Plastic Boaters to have a Run and by doing so increased the numbers of those that got promoted. So if they go on to compete will increase numbers at Div 3 Slaloms. If they can afford to join the BC and pay the entry fees.
Its not all about how much cash we can make.

Patrick O'Hara
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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Patrick O'Hara » Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:18 pm

I'm very concerned about the impact of this motion on lower division events. I very much agree that events need to be viable. Different clubs will have different views as to what is viable, some will be happy to breakeven others will need to make a surplus to make it worth their while but I'm sure that none would be happy to make a loss. I don't however believe that a massive increase in fees will improve viability, it won't attract more people to already struggling events and is likely to reduce entries at all and so those that are currently just viable would not be so. As an organiser of Div 2/3/4 events where we have to pay for the course, toilets and camping, I very much agree with Duncan that the difference between loss, breakeven and surplus is the size of the entry, hiking the fees won't help this.

Why are entry fees set and controlled nationally? Why can't it be left to the organising club to set a fee that works for them? If this is a step to far, what about a minimum and maximum that clubs are free to work within?


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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by JimW » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:33 pm

My scenarios suggest that even with a slight loss in entries the proposed fees should make our div 2/3 sure to at least break even, I think we could even manage with a loss of one of our other income streams if entries stay about the same.
They also suggest we can get to a similar situation with enhanced entry fees.

But, will being more expensive than most other div 2's affect entries more or less than all div 2's being same cost but more expensive?

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by PeterC » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:34 pm

Thanks for all the comments. Hand up - I looked at the costs of a number of races across the divisions and what they cost to run. I was the source of the proposal to Committee that we need to do something with entry fees. Many races actually only come into profit when they add in the profit made from catering particularly at the lower level. Did I do a survey of paddlers and what they would like to pay - no - why? - because it would be like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. I know full well that we need to keep fees as low as we reasonably can and paddlers do not want to see any increase. Catering cannot be used to support some races and we have potentially challenging legislation in respect of allergens that may make put any food profits at risk. Many organisers fail to take into account the full costs of running races and provide much at no cost to the event. We could remove any standard fees and require organisers to set fees race by race. We would still have to have levies to support judging and timing but we are only proposing to increase these by inflation. It would though be a huge amount of work for organisers to work out race by race what fee they need to set for the following year. The proposed fees should allow most races to make a modest profit and the committee will hopefully see a reduction in the number of races that make no profit or indeed a loss where help is required. I do expect that in spite of this there will be some races that continue to make an unexpected loss and indeed still quite a number of races that will need to charge enhanced fees. There is no reason why races have to use the proposed fees and could charge less if they want, or even as suggested run for free. However those races that charge less or nothing cannot expect to then come to the committee for support when making a loss. I do not believe "competition" in respect of entry fees at the lower divisions would be useful or good for the sport or the calendar when we are struggling to get the calendar right in the first place. If races do not fund themselves we jeopardise the sport as there is no other income stream. I am sympathetic to the challenge in terms of families with a number of paddlers and organisers could I suppose, if they wish offer discount for bulk entries, but it would add to complexity in predicting costs and income and there is no reduction in cost for the organiser with bulk entries. We could do with more Div 3s and 4s and an increase in the fess may encourage this. It will also hopefully give a little financial headroom to organisers to make their races attractive e.g. when I ran a race in the cold I provided free tea and coffee for all at no cost, to consider prizes a little more etc. We need at the lower division races to consider how we get parents and other family members to engage and make them feel welcome, it is not just about the paddlers but also recognising and supporting the volunteers without which we would have nothing. I am sure there will be debate at the ACM and maybe I will need to bring body armour but while when quoted as percentages the increases seem drastic they are not in actual monetary terms. I am also at Div 4 hopeful that with the proposed fee increases we can deal with the day membership issue and include cover for the not already individual members, this is a hope not a promise and is aiming to deal with what is a real nuisance and potential risk to organisers. I do hear statements such as "I don't see why there should be water fees, it was built for slalom..." or "The water in the river is free why does there need to be such a cost...." If we could attract sponsorship into the sport we might be able to make a difference but as yet we have nothing.

Steve Agar
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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Steve Agar » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:57 pm

I think the debate about fees needs to be set against the background of how we're doing in terms of attracting and retaining people in the sport. As many, but not all, are probably aware, we suffer from a steady decline in participant numbers, and particularly at the entry levels. (I can provide the numbers to support this if anyone's interested.) We didn't get an uplift in participants from the 2016 Olympics, and it would be ambitious to expect an uplift after Tokyo 2020. The reasons for the decline are manifold, but I think we ought to recognise that we the sport is "resource constrained", particularly by available sites, number of volunteers and increasing cost of having to pay for venues as we move ever further away from natural courses. Whilst the cost to clubs of running events is an increasing burden (and therefore increasingly unattractive given the other constraints) I'm not sure that increasing entry fees will solve the problem - it may simply make it worse by concentrating even further on those people at the upper end of the sport who are prepared to spend the extra money. At higher levels, the entry fee is a relatively small element of the overall commitment in terms of time and travel costs, particularly when you add in the costs of training. My own preference would be for a fundamental re-examination of how the sport is financed across all tiers, and how elite funding should arguably be spent lower down the sports pyramid to ensure a stable base and sustainable future (I dread to think what the effect will be of losing UK Sport funding after 2020 if things don't work out). I don't think the slalom committee shouts loudly enough at BC, and BC at UK Sport and Sport England, because it takes a huge effort (and we're all volunteers at the bottom of the pyramid) and there are vested interests to overcome. Increasing entry costs without providing anything more in return runs a significant risk of driving more people away from the sport as value for money is reduced, rather than the desired effect of increasing total income.

To try and have at least some positive suggestions rather than be seen as just moaning from the sidelines, how about trying to encourage cheaper (or free) team runs, particularly at lower divisions. I know that's not without its own problems, but when you look at the entry numbers at most lower division events, available time isn't really an issue, particularly from mid-April to mid-September. For those who remember them as a regular part of the sport, team runs provide a fantastic way of learning from one's peers whilst not suffering all the stresses of individual competition - what we need to bring and keep more people on the sport.

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Dee » Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:00 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:34 pm
... There is no reason why races have to use the proposed fees and could charge less if they want, or even as suggested run for free. ...
I'm not sure this is true. Once set the fee is fixed and there is no option for an organiser to change (other than by applying for enhanced fees and or for open events). Like the idea of free tea and coffee though (and perhaps even instant hot chocolate!)
Kit Washer, Entry Clerk, Chauffeur, Reluctant Organiser, Online Entry Advocate .....
Anything I post under this user is my personal opinion; I am not posting as a member of the Slalom Committee!

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Re: 6.2 Entry Fees

Post by Dee » Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:16 pm

I have never heard anyone say that they are not entering a slalom because of the entry fee. Distance; busy with other things; concerns about getting/not getting promoted; availability/cost of accommodation; complication of joining BCU (etc)/applying for a bit, yes all of those, but not entry fees.

Now, just because I haven't heard someone say this, doesn't mean it's not been said. However, I do believe we need to make competitions viable and I do not believe that it will have any impact on slalom attendance figures. It's a big percentage increase, but from such a low base that the resulting fee is still modest.
Kit Washer, Entry Clerk, Chauffeur, Reluctant Organiser, Online Entry Advocate .....
Anything I post under this user is my personal opinion; I am not posting as a member of the Slalom Committee!

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