10/03/2023- Member

Consultation Opens on Referee Provision at BF Championship Events

Consultation opens on Referee Provision at BF Championship Events – referees and clubs are encouraged to respond using online feedback form and/or attend online discussion sessions.

Over time the requirements to source and cover costs of referees for all British Fencing (BF) run events have become increasingly the responsibility of BF. Expectations have risen to the point whereby participants in the majority of BF-run events expect not to self referee and for referees to be at a certain standard. The cost of this currently needs to be covered by the entry fees of all competitors.

As event costs are rising significantly (for details see here) BF has been exploring other models of referee provision that will better support the development of referees across the wider fencing system and structure and help protect against future significant rise in entry fees for all.

As part of this review we looked at the models used by the EFC, the FIE, and other European nations including France and Germany. All of these use models of either country or club-level referee provision for their competitions. These models in turn encourage referee development across all levels.


Proposal for Consultation

As part of this review, BF is proposing that the following model is piloted for the 2023 British Open Championships in June followed by the 2023 British Cadet & Junior Championships in September and the 2024 Senior Nationals. For these competitions we will ask that:

  • Each UK Club (or Country if fencers are not BF members, representing a club), provides a referee based on the number of fencers they enter:
    • 1-4 fencers – no referees required
    • 5-9 – 1 referee required
    • 9 two referees
  • Fine: £250 for each missing referee.
  • Clubs cover their own referee’s expenses (travel, accommodation).
  • BF will still pay these referees according to their qualification level/requirements.

The expectation is that BF will still end up having to provide a significant number (if not the majority) of referees for the first few years. The intention is for BF and the Home Nations to support growing clubs through referee development courses. ADP athletes are already provided opportunities to attain referee qualifications, and this will continue.

How to Respond

To respond to the consultation online using the online form please click here.

Provisional dates/times for the first online meetings are:

  • Tuesday 21st March 12.30 Clubs
  • Tuesday 21st March 18.00 Referees

These dates and times will be confirmed in the sign-up invitations which will be emailed directly to club secretaries and referees. We will also look to run additional sessions the following week if possible so please check your emails.

The closing date for responses is the 3rd April.


Additional Questions

In forming this proposal we thought about questions that might arise. The answers form part of the proposal under consultation. The purpose of the online discussion sessions is to discuss these answers and explore their feasibility particularly with the club and referee community. We would also welcome additional questions and suggestions on how we can improve our referee provision model.  (Click here if you would like to submit these questions and suggestions directly).

Will BF have a list of referees that we can’t invite?

BF will appoint a Head Referee, and this will be the only referee not available to be nominated by a club.


Will BF manage conflicts?

Yes, if a referee is provided by a club the conflicts will be managed to try and avoid that referee being used for matches with those fencers. Conflicts are already managed on a club affiliation basis in referee allocation.


My club might not be able to provide a referee for one of the weapons/days but can then provide an additional one for another weapon/day – can we get flexibility to avoid a fine?

Provided the referees are of the standard required we will be flexible if clubs can support with additional referees in other weapons.


My club doesn’t have any qualified referees – will BF help me find one?

Yes, we will support clubs in finding referees eg by sending out requests to the referee register.


I’m a referee but I am not affiliated to a club – will I still be able to referee?

Yes, you can referee for any club that needs a referee. BF will still need a significant number of additional referees, so you will be able to be an unaffiliated referee as well.


My club doesn’t have a referee, can we instead provide people that can help in other capacities, eg armoury, call room etc?

If the competition needs support in other areas we are very open to exploring the options with clubs.


What about the BYCs?

There is no intention to change the model for the 2023 Finals. This model is currently based on BF providing all the referees and covering all expenses.

The BYCs is the biggest challenge for BF due to the significant numbers of referees required (approximately double the other events). The challenge isn’t just the cost, it’s finding them!

The ideal situation is that the Regions will be actively engaged with their clubs in local referee development so that upcoming referees can be identified. The BYCs can then also be used as a development opportunity for the referees to progress through the Home Nation and BF qualification system.

If BF has to continue to cover all the costs of provision and these and other costs continue to rise in the way we are seeing, there will be an impact on entry fees.

Other potential options is that (subject to discussion/agreement with England Fencing) there is additional investment in the referee development in and around the Sheffield area, which will longer term significantly reduce financial and environmental impact of events held around this area.


Is this the expectation for other Opens?

No, there is no expectation that other Senior Open competition organisers will adopt a similar model.


What about BRC A’s and B’s

BF referee day rates will be paid by the organisers of BRC A’s and these should be no less than the rates used by BF.

Otherwise, organisers of BRC A’s and B’s will have continued flexibility in relation to referee provision rules.


More information

Referee Development Responsibilities 

The responsibility for training and developing referees is split between British Fencing and the Home Nations. Home Nations are responsible for level 1 and 2 regional level refereeing, whilst British Fencing are responsible for level 3 and above. This reflects the Home Nation structure, where Home Nations are passed on 40% of the membership fees.

A few years ago the Home Nations and BF came together to address the gap appearing between Level 2 (regional level referees) and Level 3 (national level, able to referee at an EFC international), which resulted in BF agreeing to provide additional administrative support to level 2+ mentoring. More information on this can be found on the British Fencing referee journey.


Current Referee Provisioning Arrangements

  • British Cadet, Junior and Senior Championships & GB Cup – BF provide all the referees and pay day rate and expenses.
  • BYCs – Historically regions would provide referees or pay fines. BF are now fully responsible for providing referees (day rate and expenses) and there are no fines.
  • Eden Cup/EFC U23 – EFC/FIE model of referee provision applied to non GBR athletes, BF provide referees for GBR athletes (day rate and expenses). Fines apply.
  • School Teams – schools provide some referees, BF provide the remaining
    (expenses and day rate)


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