This article forms part of a series of reports which accompany the 2022-23 BF Annual Report.
In the first full season unaffected by pandemic related postponements, cancellations and/or related operational restrictions, 2022-23 saw significant challenges due to the cost of living crisis and price rises in areas including venue hire, accommodation and travel.
Recognising the additional financial burden on fencers as entry fees rise, BF established an Entry Fee Support Scheme, piloted for the BYCs in May 2022 and subsequently rolled out across all British Fencing (BF) run competitions.
The practice of referee day rate payments, piloted in 2021, was extended to all BF run events. This contributed to an increase in the quantity and quality of refereeing available to support our events. Alongside improvements to ‘Field of Play’ this contributed to improved feedback scores from participants.
BF Portfolio Events List
Those events run by BF and held during period 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023:
2022-23 season saw the return of several events that had been unable to run due to pandemic related restrictions.
In the first May bank holiday of May 2022, the British Youth Championships (BYCs) took place for the first time since before the pandemic. The three-day event is the largest youth participation event in the UK competitions calendar. The event, where young fencers qualify through regional qualifying events, received positive feedback from entrants regarding the field of play and updated accreditation systems in place.
Entry numbers were back up to 2019 levels, 1141 in 2022 compared to 1100 in 2019.
From a financial perspective the BYC’s were challenging. BF waived the qualifiers levy to support the Regions in running the qualifiers. The Regions felt they were no longer able to provide referees, so the cost and organisation of around 50 referees was transferred to BF. Whilst entry fees were slightly increased, overall the event contributed to the net deficit in the events portfolio.
BF extends it’s thanks to the Regions for organising the regional qualifying events.
The British Senior Individual Championships, traditionally held in April, was rescheduled due to challenges with venue availability. The one-off extra Jubilee bank holiday in June provided an opportunity to expand the event to add in the National Club Team Championships, the GB Cup and for the first time since the transfer of responsibilities from transfer of responsibilities from British Disability Fencing, the Wheelchair Fencing National Championships.
This was a fantastic way to celebrate the Jubilee weekend, all the more special as the late Queen Elizabeth was the patron of British Fencing.
With the start of the 2022-23 Cadet and Junior Season, September saw two BF ran events, the Cadet and Junior ‘A’ BRC, and the 2022 Cadet and Junior Championships. The events, both held at the University of Nottingham, saw young fencers compete for ranking points, ahead of the international selection events commencing in late September.
November 2022 saw the first Eden Cup (FIE JWC Foil Event) and London Cup (EFC U23 Foil Event) take place since the pandemic. We welcomed over 500 fencers to London for the event weekend. For the 2022 season the FIE added a new requirement to hold a team event, which extended the event from a two, to three day event. With entry fee limits still in place (25 euros individual, 150 team event) and other factors including rising venue costs, and transport and accommodation costs, the level of loss experienced is not sustainable.
It is therefore with great sadness that British Fencing are unable to host this event in 2023. We will continue to review our competition portfolio and will liaise with the FIE and other stakeholders in relation to future opportunities for BF to host international events within our financial means. Should there be an opportunity to overcome the economic barriers we would look to reinstate the Eden Cup in future years.
2022-23 also saw the introduction, following a 2 two year delay due to the pandemic, of the Ranking Event Levy, which was introduced to support volunteer training and development across the UK from August 2022.
This levy is primarily being used to subsidise activities to upskill, grow and support our volunteer workforce including event organisers to ensure that we can continue to support quality competitions (both those run by BF and club) across the country in the future.
Summary Participation Statistics
Over the period 22-23, there were 3,320 individual entries 227 team entries into the 8 BF Portfolio events ran in this period, with a further 221 competitive fencing events ran by community organisers (licenced through the BF Events Platform) taking place within the year.
|Event||Entrants (year last held)||2022-23 Entrants|
|British Youth Championships||(2019) – 1100||1141|
|British Senior Championships||(2021) – 409||492 (Individual Entries)
61 (Team Entries)
|GB Cup||(2019) – 105||73|
|Cadet and Junior National Championships||(2021) – 574||562|
|Cadet and Junior ‘A’ BRC||(2021) – 514||469|
|The Eden Cup (FIE JWC Foil)||(2019) – 327 (Individual Entries ONLY)||352 (Individual Entries) and 37 (Team Entries)|
|The London Cup (EFC U23 Foil)||(2019) – 303||231|
|British School Team Championships||(2020) – 130 Teams||129 Teams|
Feedback from Events
For BF Portfolio Events, customer feedback scores remained steady, with a slight rise across all events in areas such as the implementation of the field of play, organisation on the day and overall experience. Feedback on events is always welcome, providing opportunities for us to implement improvements for future events. BF would like to thank all those who take the time to complete the feedback surveys post events.
“Really pleased to see the baggage area was addressed from the previous event. Many thank for taking on board the feedback and finding a way to improve it.” (Feedback from 2022 Cadet and Junior Championships)
Entry Fee Support Scheme
Recognising that the increased entry fees can create an insurmountable barrier for some members of our community, BF established the Entry Fee Support Scheme, which aims to provide fencers from lower socio economic groups (LSEG) free entry to BF run events. The scheme, running in its current format since 2021, can be applied for by fencers for all British Fencing National Events via the event webpage. This scheme will continue throughout 2023-24.
Event Licences (events not directly run by BF)
Both the number of competitive and recreational licenced events has risen from 21-22, with a 42% and 108% increase in the number of events respectively compared to the previous period, which can be in part attributed to the removal of Covid-19 restrictions.
During the financial year, the Executive team published a number of articles updating the membership on the challenges being faced in organising events, providing a more details on the costs involved. This follows a break down of the cost of running an event, published in 2021.
Given the increasingly difficult financial situation, the overall deficit for the events portfolio 2022-23 was £34,442, before staff costs. As explained, the deficit was due to increased costs in goods and services in many areas. Including venue hire, transport and accommodation costs.
As previously mentioned, the cost of running the Eden Cup significantly increased. Historically the Eden Cup has always cost BF more money to run than the income generated. The International Fencing Federation (the FIE) places limits on the entry fees and mandatory FIE delivery standards resulting in losses of between £8K & £13K per year. However, the new requirement for an additional day, due to the team event, combined with other increasing costs incurred by the Eden Cup resulted in a deficit for the competition of £25K in 2022.
Our Volunteers & Officials
BF Events continue to be run by Evie Millar with help from across the BF team and supported by Competition Manager, Jon Willis. To put events on we continue to rely on volunteers who provide invaluable support, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in running events.
This year has seen continued engagement with our event volunteers and officials, with through Community Discussion events and pre-event drop-in sessions via Zoom before each event. These sessions have enabled further collaboration and establishing best practice in running events.
New to 2022-23 was the practice of appointing Head Referees at events. Head Referees are responsible for supporting the refereeing team, working with DT to manage allocations, fielding queries, supporting and advising referees and providing additional training and education opportunities through the BF Events programme. Our thanks go to Adrian Speakman, Luke Deamer, Jennifer Sancroft and Mike Selig for taking on the role of Head Referee at events throughout the year.
Looking ahead to 2023-24
Looking ahead to 2023-24, the focus for BF is to continue to run high-quality national competitions, whilst dealing with significant budgetary challenges for the portfolio.
Given the current situation and significant cost rises affecting events, BF will not be running the 2023 Eden Cup, instead focussing limited resources on provision of high quality and accessible National Championship competitions.
In light of the cost of living rises across the UK, BF will continue to provide financial assistance to fencers from lower socio-economic groups (LSEG) to participate in fencing activities, such as through the Entry Fee Support Scheme.
BF would like to thank all the volunteers who give up their time to make fencing competitions happen across the sport.
Event organisers and community volunteers are encouraged to get in touch with BF to discuss issues facing them. The new event organiser zone includes resources and guides for running events and will be updated based on community feedback.
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