Several prominent clubs have expressed concern at the decision by the board of Athletics Ireland to push through a new levy on all non-members wishing to participate in their permitted recreational running and race events.
From next January 1st, anyone not registered with an Irish athletics club will face an extra €2 on their entry, for each race their enter, under what Athletics Ireland are calling a new one-day licence fee.
It will be a requirement for non-members at all running events in receipt of an Athletics Ireland permit, part of an overhaul in the race entry and result process under a new agreement with Eventmaster.
Aimed in part at placing further value on club membership, Athletics Ireland have also stated that “all revenue generated from this initiative will directly support the delivery of our high-performance programme”, adding that “further fundraising initiatives are also being considered by the board to support the continued development of our sport”.
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Athletics Northern Ireland registered club members are also exempt from the €2 levy, which is set to impact on about 700 events across the country, involving more than 500,000 runners, from local road races up to mass-participation events such as the Dublin Marathon and the Women’s Mini Marathon.
According to their latest figures, Athletics Ireland currently has 56,084 registered club members. Individual club membership can vary from between €100-€170, with Athletics Ireland taking €25 per adult member, and €15 per juvenile.
Under the new agreement, Eventmaster will also charge a 4.5 per cent fee for each event registration above €14, plus a bank fee of 2 per cent, when previously other running registration companies had only been charging between 1-2 per cent. Eventmaster will also take a surcharge of 38c from each of the new €2 levy taken from non-members of Athletics Ireland.
Concerns over this levy and its impact on future race entry fees were expressed at the Dublin Athletics board meeting earlier this month, one club representative describing the move as “anti-democratic”, given the board pushed the new levy through as an requirement on all clubs, when such a move should have gone before the Athletics Ireland Congress. The Munster Board also called for the move to go before Congress.
Another prominent Dublin athletics club, which didn’t wish to be named, also told The Irish Times the new levy comes at a time when race organisers across the country are already absorbing substantial rises in costs and overheads when putting on running events, while trying to keep their race entry fee affordable.
That same club, which also puts on two of the major road races in Dublin, estimated the new Eventmaster charges could also cost them up to an additional €10,000 next year, unless they further increase their entry fee to absorb some of the costs, or consider putting on their events without an Athletics Ireland permit. Others are understood to be considering a similar move.
Athletics Ireland is retaining the permit fee of €50 for events of 1,000 people or less, and says the new results database developed with Eventmaster will also provide “an integrated events calendar for all Athletics Ireland permitted events linked from the digitised permit application”.