I wanted to come back to you all on the proposal to remove abandonment insurance and instead introduce a new approach to refunds.
I asked you to let us know if you had concerns about this new approach and 248 of you took the time to let us know your views. I have read all of these personally and I will address some of the themes later on.
The key point to make is that we will no longer be offering abandonment insurance in 2022. This position has been reached based on your responses and based on the detailed discussions with the BEOA, the EHOA and ERA, all of whom have accepted this new position. However, we realise this is a significant change and we will work very closely with organisers and members to monitor the situation and if necessary, make adjustments to the new policy once we see it working in practice.
Before I move on to the detail about some of your concerns, I want to make two points and offer you some reassurances.
Firstly, I am clear that none of us want to see an event abandon. It is incredibly disappointing for the organisers, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone who has worked so hard on the event only to have it abandon at the last minute. It is equally frustrating for members to have competitions that they have planned and trained for abandon due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.
At BE we will, in partnership with our organisers, work hard to reduce the number of abandonments. There are creative solutions to this problem and in working together I am confident that we can bring about changes that make our sport, overall, less vulnerable to vagaries of the British weather.
Secondly, I am passionate about consulting with members and listening to your views. We have some amazing people giving up their time to be a part of three membership representative groups (ERA, BEOA and the EHOA). The people running these groups work tirelessly on your behalf to make sure you have a channel through which you can make your voices heard. I encourage you to join these groups and actively engage in their discussions. This is the way we will drive our sport forward in a positive and constructive way – we will never be able to please everyone, but we can make sure that we have heard from as many members as possible.
As for the reassurances,
- The decision to abandon is never taken lightly – the BE Officials on site will work with organiser and the landowner to ensure that the decision is made at the most appropriate time – if the ground is waterlogged with no chance of drying out two days before the start of the competition, then that’s when this difficult decision will be taken.
- BE will work with the organisers to implement any practical measures that will reduce the risk of abandonment.
- The policy will be continuously reviewed, and we will address issues if they arise.
- Our organisers have committed that they will refund any entry fees they have received that are in excess of the costs incurred. We will work with the BEOA to agree a transparent process that will include oversight from a BE official and a non-conflicted BEOA member. We are hopeful that a number of events, if forced to abandon, will refund more than the minimum stated in the rule book.
- This policy ONLY applies to abandonments which are primarily weather related – if an event cancels due to lack of entries you will receive a full refund as you do now.
We must remember that the direct result of this new approach is that all entry fees will be 7% cheaper in 2022 than they were in 2021.
Now to cover the major themes of the concerns raise by the 248 Members.
A number are worried that members will now leave entries to the last minute. It is a fact of our sport that our organisers want members to enter as early as possible and riders want to enter as late as possible. This is a conflict we must continue to manage and will be a pattern we will be watching for as the season begins.
- Some are worried that some events may leave the calendar. This is something that we are committed to taking action on should it happen – a balanced calendar that meets the needs of our members is a key strategic goal. It’s worth noting that in 2021 all events, with the exception of Badminton, that made the decision not to run due to Covid were replaced in the calendar.
- There is a fear that early and late season events may suffer most. Generally speaking, we try to position those events that are best able to cope with poor weather at the start and the end of the season. This is a continuous process, and we will work with events that are struggling with their slot in the calendar to give them the opportunity, if at all possible, to move to a date that is better suited to their local conditions.
- Some members felt that the removal of insurance will discourage new members and therefore reduce competition entries, particularly at the grassroots level. I want to be clear that the removal of insurance and therefore reducing the cost of every entry is part of a package of measures designed to make eventing at the grassroots level a more economic, more enjoyable, and more accessible experience. We have the new membership structure that significantly reduces costs at the lower levels, with the key objective being to attract new members and increase the membership at entry-level into the sport. The exciting news that the National BE80 Championships will now take place at Bramham with the BE90 and BE100 Championships at Badminton and potentially stronger ties with the Pony Club aimed at bringing in new members early on in their eventing career to name but a few. I can assure everyone that looking after our grassroots members is a high priority and that I will continue to look for new and creative ways to improve the sport for every section of our membership.
- The point was raised that the North and Scotland will be disproportionately affected. We do understand the specific difficulties encountered by events in the North of England and Scotland and we hope that some of the measure outlined above will benefit events in the North, but we recognise that we need to engage more with events and members in those regions. To this end I will be working with the stakeholder groups to ensure that representation from the North and Scotland in these representative groups is strengthened.
So, to summarise, we are removing abandonment insurance for 2022 and we are doing it after detailed consultation with and understanding from, the three major stakeholder groups – the BEOA, EHOA and ERA. We will keep the situation under review and make adjustments if these prove necessary.
Once again, thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, and I very much look forward to seeing you out at events in 2022.