The future of triathlon in the UK

Well time for talking is over and the time for voting is now. Which ever way you look at it, positively or negatively, there will be many changes to the organisation and funding of triathlon in the UK over the next year.

In order to make sure that this is done as openly and transparently as possible I, along with Henry Budgett, have submitted a number of carefully considered and worded resolutions to remove ambiguity and introduce some transparency in the running of the association.

You can find a list of the resolutions submitted here on the BTA website.  In essence, the purpose behind the resolutions is not to "stitch-up" anyone, not to get back at anything that may or may not have transpired in the past. Rather, it is to try to create a framework that will allow the association to go forward on a footing that will avoid many of the problems that have recently beset other sports organisations and administrations.

I've tried to word my resolutions as carefully as possible and to make them "fair and balanced". Under the associations rules we have untll December 6th to submit changes to the submitted resolutions. Please post here if you have any comments or changes you'd like to see. I will surface all non-libellous, non-slanderous comments, pro or con.

In addition to the resolutions, Marc Jenkins and I have nominated Andrea Whitcombe for a position on the Executive Board(EB). Once again, this isn't what it might seem at first, especially given some of the coverage here as well as elsewhere. I sat and talked with Andrea and her coach Simon at length before she left for the recent ITU races.

Andrea is genuinely looking forward now and is very interested in giving back to the sport and people in triathlon that have given so much to her since she switched from athletics. She is committed to attending the EB meetings and contributing time, enthusiasm to initiatives undertaken by the EB. She has a background in administration and professional management from her employment for a large national company.

As many will know, one thing I'm concerned about is keeping the membership and day license cost as low as possible. One way to do this is to have strict controls on what the association expenses to attend EB meetings and other international requirements. including that of EB members and other staff, I will work with Andrea to make sure that her travel does not fall foul of this. A full list of cadidates for EB positions can be found here on the BTA website.

One final comment, I did discuss with a number of people the possibility of a resolution to limit the price of membership and to return it to a more affordable price, say £15 UK Pounds, while at the same time making membership compulsory and eliminating the day license. I was unable to get the information or consensus in order to produce a workable proposal together. However, once the new board has been elected I intend to have another discussion to see if this can be achieved. If you have any views on this or would be willing to work with me on this please let me know.

I submitted this for the December issue of 220. I don't know if it will be published and so I've included it here for further comment.

Vote early, Vote often

It's time to live up that hackneyed old saying for BTA members. This issue of 220 Magazine will be overlapped by a copy of Tri news from the British Triathlon Association which will contain details of this years nominations to the executive board and hopefully the amendments to the BTA Constitution and articles of association.

2005 will be a landmark year for British Triathlon. Many, many things are about to change. By now most clubs will have considered and many will have benefitted from the lottery funded Awards for All program, at my club Tri-Force, we used the Awards for All program to fund the development of a new club subsection and expansion in Luton. It was simple and straight forward to apply and get the money.

For 2005 though this all changes. The funding will now be fed through what is called the One Stop plan. Each BTA Region will have to bid for funding it wants for projects in its' region and clubs within that region. The BTA as a whole will apply for the funding it needs to develop clubs and regions and ultimately distribute what is allocated to triathlon through the regions. The regions will administer the budgets allocating it to clubs and projects as appropriate. Awards for All will be difficult if not impossible to apply for since the money going into the A4A pot will be substantially reduced and because you had to secure the signature of your BTA Regional development officer before submitting. Obviously now they would prefer all projects to go through the BTA One Stop Plan where they can control the budget and hold-on to any underspends etc.

Unfortunately, the current BTA constitution and articles of association were created for  a much more low key association. One that was run by like minded volunteers and part time officers who just wanted to create and foster the triathlon scene in the UK. However, the BTA has moved on, it is becoming "birtish triathlon" and attempting to leave behind the association and moving to what it is, rather than what it does.

We've seen this year a hugely expensive legal challenge to the results and structure of USA Triathlon(USAT) which forced them to rerun their elections. A similar challenge would likely bankrupt the BTA if it came to pass. Also this year while the BTA were busy performing the role of race organiser for various National Championships/Series, they were not doing everything they could to help clubs and small race organisers to actually deliver races in 2005. Rather the BTA have become increasingly transparent and just pass on the requirements of the various, sports, legal, medical and administrative organisations rather than acting as a strong national lobbying body to secure access to lakes, rivers, roads, define best practices etc.

So, it's time for some changes. In order for ordinary members to get a better understanding of what is going on at the BTA, to see where money is coming and going, to have a more effective say in what is being done by the executive board in our name, a number of us have grouped together and submitted a number of resolutions for change.

These include limiting the ability to vote at executive board meetings to those actually elected to the board(seems obvious doesn't it?); making sure votes are never again submitted to the Association HQ(fox and chicken coup come to mind); opening the governance of the BTA to make it more accountable to its' members and to the general public who increasingly fund it through the various lottery programmes; and finally to broaden participation in the executive board with a number of new candidates are seeking election.

It doesn't matter if you agree with me or not, we need to make sure the BTA is and remains representative of its' members and that rather than just push all responsibility out to its' regions, the BTA itself remains accountable. One way or the other, for or against, we need all BTA members to vote in the postal elections and for anyone who can to attend the AGM on December 12th to vote on the various amendments. Vote early, vote often!
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Andrea Whitcombe
(Anonymous)
Mark - in order to better inform my voting decision I'd be interested to know what the nature of Andrea Whitcombe's 'professional management' experience was? Your description is a bit vague.

many thanks
Re: Andrea Whitcombe
(Anonymous)
I worked for a large UK Company in their Head Offices for nearly 10 years. I was the Capital Accounts Supervisor which involved setting up accounts and ensuring the spending was within budget, negotiating with management etc. Andrea.