Sports Clubs see significant funding cuts

Photo credit: Camille Lombard.[br]The UCD Athletic Union Council (AUC) has stated that it can no longer fund major capital items for clubs. Meaning in effect that non-competitive sports clubs have had huge cuts to their grants.The AUC claimed this was due to the fact the University has not increased their own grant in 8 years, in spite of increased membership numbers, activity levels and costs during that time.At an executive committee meeting held last December, the AUC decided to review grant applications received from sports clubs. The AUC stated that from 2017, sports clubs would have to complete a special grant application to the Student Activities Committee (SAC).The changes in the grant system particularly effect outdoor sports clubs that have little or no competitive aspects to them such as the Mountaineering, Caving and Potholing, and Windsurfing Clubs. The announcement was made in an email sent out to UCD sports clubs, during the semester one exam period.“The criteria was seemingly devised for traditional sports such as rugby, football and GAA,” said Cillian O’Corrbui, treasurer of UCD Mountaineering Club. “As a result it makes no sense for an outdoors club. It states that all travel and accommodation will not be covered unless it is for training or competition purposes” he explained.This means trips for purposes of recreation is not deemed valid for funding by the AUC. They are placing the emphasis on traveling for competition. Yet it is obvious that clubs such as Mountaineering and Windsurfing need to travel to the mountains and the sea in order to function. “As a mountaineering club it is absurd not to go outside” O'Corrbui said.That email, sent in December, informed UCD Mountaineering Club they were ineligible to receive a grant this year, in spite of the fact that they’ve been receiving a grant from the AUC since the club’s inception in 1967.Other outdoor-based sports clubs have also admitted that the loss of the grant would negatively affect their ability to hold events. However, a number were worried that speaking to The University Observer might negatively impact their standing with the AUC.For each member a club has, they pay a €5 levy to AUC. For the mountaineering club, this totalled €2,180 this year, in turn they expected to receive €5,000 as had been the system for years. However, they now have to pay the levy and receive nothing in return, which leaves them down €7,180 when they expected to have €2,820. O’Corrbui, says this greatly limits their ability to run events.O’Corrbui, told the Observer: “we replied to their email within the day to ask for an explanation on why our grant was cut. We instantly got an automated email in response informing us that they were on holiday until the 9th of January. Their secretary offered us a meeting on the 10th of January, but we were on holidays until the 21st if January.” The club didn’t receive any information on their grant for six weeks.“We did not anticipate not getting a grant and it’s hard to do a complete plan for all the training programmes we are going to run”, he explained. The club use a lot of the grant money they receive to subsidise training programmes in mountaineering for their members.“Usually, when we receive a grant, this is not an issue as we have enough funds to run the courses ourselves but in our current situation it looks unlikely that the club will be able to subsidise any training programme which will price the majority of students out of the courses.” It also means the club can’t afford to go on as many outings as planned.In January, UCD Mountaineering Club and Caving and Potholing Club had a joint meeting with Suzanne Bailey, Sports Development Manager at UCD Sport, to discuss the changes to their grant situation. Following this meeting the clubs received an email from the AUC Executive Committee saying that on the basis of the revised application and grant award criteria, the clubs were not deemed entitled to receive annual grant funding.It was also stated that while the AUC understood that mountaineering and caving clubs needed to travel, the committee would find it difficult to quantify the number of trips allowable.UCD Sport staff were asked for a statement but has not yet replied.