12/07/2022- Member


Members are invited to share their views on a new club affiliation proposal which would see members nominate a main ‘competition’ club for a season.


Background to the consultation

It is a strategic aim of British Fencing (BF) to better recognise the importance of Registered Clubs and to empower them through a stronger system of club representation.

As a first step in this direction, BF believes it is necessary to reform our current system of administering the affiliation of individuals to clubs.

BF believes that the changes proposed will bring immediate benefits to all of our members and establish a solid basis for future improvements.


The importance of Registered Clubs

Registered Clubs make a vital contribution to our fencing community, central to our mission of ‘enabling people to start, stay and succeed in fencing’. Not only are they one of the principal types of institutions through which our members discover the sport, they provide the venues, coaching, equipment and sparring opportunities which enable our fencers to participate and develop their skills, from recreational to elite level. Many of the competitions which make up our fencing calendar are organised by Registered Clubs.

Despite this great importance, the current system of how fencers affiliate to clubs is largely informal and, in BF’s assessment, unfit for purpose.


The existing affiliation system

At present, members can select one ‘primary’ BF Registered Club to affiliate to within the BF platform. This is done through their membership profile. In addition to their ‘primary’ club, members can also select multiple other Registered Clubs to affiliate with. Furthermore, it is possible for members to be able to change their ‘primary’ club at any time.

This process is entirely optional and self-administered. This registration process does not require any verification, nor does it allow for input from the clubs themselves.

BF believes that the current arrangement, while simple, presents significant deficiencies:

  1. The current affiliation data is of a low quality
    The existing affiliation data is unverified and incomplete. In some cases it is many years out of date. This makes it next to impossible for BF to have confidence in the data when appraising clubs or making decisions which could affect clubs and their members.
  2. It can have an adverse impact on the running of competitions
    Fencers assigned to the wrong club will present incorrect data to competition organisers. This can cause challenges to event organisers. Where participants, either pre or on the day of competition, request to be affiliated to a club that is not their primary club, this adds additional admin responsibilities onto event organisers and potential delays for competitors as poules are re-drawn.
  3. The existing system can be unfairly exploited to the detriment of clubs and members
    It is currently possible for competitors to “game” the system, switching between clubs on a competition-by-competition basis, unfairly distorting poules to their advantage. It is also possible for competitors whose membership of Registered Clubs are inactive (or in a worst case scenario, invented) to claim an affiliation to which they are not entitled, depriving a club of membership fees and potentially bringing a club into disrepute. It can also deprive genuine Registered Club members of the opportunity to represent their club in team competitions and affect the outcome of National Team Championships and the associated international qualification opportunities.


The benefits of change

It is BF’s belief that reform of the existing affiliation system presents an opportunity to eliminate the problems detailed above as well as establishing a solid basis for the delivery of further benefits.

By formalising club affiliation, BF will gain a better understanding of which clubs are supporting competitive fencers and which are most successful at bringing new participants to the sport. In turn, this will allow us to better direct appropriate resources to their work and look at opportunities to collaborate to create better club and competition experiences to support the developmental needs of fencers.

Formalising club affiliation will give Registered Clubs more control over their own competition programmes, to whatever extent that they wish to exercise it.

Moving forward, BF will be better able to support the EFC’s intention to build and grow the European Club Team Championships, ensuring that the teams that are aiming to qualify (currently through National Team Championships) are made up of active members of those clubs.

At community level these changes will help us introduce more club team league competitions, both on a local and national level. Additionally BF would like to explore creating and publishing BF Club Rankings based on the BF Individual Rankings.


The proposed changes

Under the proposal, members who do not wish to be classified as “unaffiliated” will be asked to select a single club to affiliate to, their ‘competition club’.

When entering events (compete level events, including all ranking events), members would be automatically assigned to their competition club only and would not be able to change this on competition entry or arrival.

Members will be able to make one change to their ‘competition club’ once a year. This may be at the time of renewal or during identified windows in the season. Multiple changes within a year or changes outside the identified windows will only be allowed in certain circumstances (potentially requiring permissions from the clubs involved) and will be applied for by contacting BF HQ. If an ‘out of window’ change is required there will be an associated administration cost which may be levied in the form of a small fee.

In addition to a competition club, members can affiliate to other ‘secondary’ clubs e.g. school, university clubs.  They would be able to represent this ‘secondary’ club in relevant representative competitions such as BUCS and School Teams. This secondary affiliation exists purely for the purposes of insurance, safeguarding and similar British Fencing responsibilities, but will not be taken into account for the purposes of drawing poules in open ranking competitions.

The majority of BF members are members of a BF Registered Club. In this way, the fencing experience they are part of is delivered under the umbrella of BF/Home Nation policies and procedures and therefore they (and those that deliver the club fencing experience) are appropriately insured. There may be some circumstances where fencers who wish to compete are not members of a BF Registered Club. It will still be possible (in defined circumstances) for fencers to enter a competition as ‘unattached’.

It is anticipated that once the necessary systems are in place on the BF platform, members will be asked to submit a Proof of “Approval to Compete” from their chosen club, valid at the time of their membership renewal. It will be at the Registered Club’s individual discretion as to what form to offer an Approval, and whether to do so. A Registered Club will retain the right to withdraw an Approval at any time.



BF welcomes member views on the outlined proposal, the consultation is now open and will close Monday 1st August 2022.

Members are able to respond to the consultation by submitting comments using this online form.


Questions for Consultation

  1. What do you think about the concept of a primary ‘competition’ club, which is typically fixed (for the season?)
  2. Do you agree that this should be applied to compete level (including ranking events) with more flexibility applied for recreational level events?
  3. Do you agree that clubs should have a say in who represents them in competitions?
  4. Are there any other benefits that a stronger system of Club Representation could bring to fencing?
  5. Are there any other disadvantages that a stronger system of Club Representation could bring to fencing?

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