Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Athletics Ireland increase race entry fees for non-club runners

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Athletics Ireland increase race entry fees for non-club runners

Earlier this week, Athletics Ireland announced on their website that they were introducing what they are calling a 'one-day licence' for non-club runners for any 'recreational event' with an Athletics Ireland permit. The fee will be set at €2.

This was first mooted in the Spring of this year and was trialled at a few events in the Autumn. It now appears that they are going ahead for all 'recreational events' which in reality means all road races.

This 'one-day licence' is I believe pretty normal for other sports and I think Cycling Ireland and Triathlon Ireland have similar charges for non-members for their events. Even the Cork BHAA have a similar fee in that they charge non-registered BHAA runners €10 instead of €5 on the day.

UK Athletics operate a similar model in that they have a £2 charge for non-club runners so it seems to be modelled on that.

Let's have a look at some of the finer details of the change...

1) "All €50 permit fees will be retained by respective County Boards approving events."

Up to now, any athletics club organising a road race (under 1000 runners) paid €50 to Athletics Ireland for a permit. That essentially was all that Athletics Ireland had to do with the race, the club did everything else.

Under the new plan, Athletics Ireland are at the centre of every race and are involved in the entry process and the money.

The County Boards role is pretty much to rubber stamp a date that the clubs have selected and are doing pretty much nothing. This €50 per race for the County Boards is more or less a bone to keep them quiet and not to rock the boat.

I'm sure at the Athletics Ireland National Congress next year, there will be some rumblings about this change but they will be told that this new one-day licence is going to bring in so much money that there is no financial alternative for the association.

2) "Our registration partner Eventmaster will provide preferential rates of 4.5% for event registration excluding bank fees (For registration under €14.00 a €1.00 minimum will be applied)."

"All registration must take place with Eventmaster through the Athletics Ireland online system at the preferential rate."

Note the 'All registration'! I take this to mean that all race entries in future will have to go through the Athletics Ireland online system. This I presume means no more turning up and entering on the day of the race?

If this is indeed the case then it means that club runners will have to pay at least €1 extra per race if they enter online while non-club runners will in reality pay at least €3 extra - €2 for the one-day licence and €1 for the online charges.

I suspect that this is indeed the case as Athletics Ireland will want all monies to go through their system so they can control and track it. They don't want to be chasing after clubs for money from people that entered on the day by cash.

On the day race entry has been the norm for nearly all small races up to now. This 'online only' change plus the extra costs are likely to make a difference to numbers taking part in races in the future.

3) "A results database from permitted events will be developed, similar to the power of ten, this database will be a powerful tool in expanding our digitisation into the recreational space."

This might be interesting but will be of limited value due to the fact it won't have results from all of the non-permit races like the Cork BHAA ones. 

It's no big deal for people to keep a record of their own times in a spreadsheet so I'm not sure it's of much value. I suspect some people will like this feature and many others couldn't care less.

Let's have a look at some case studies of what the impact might be.

a) East Cork AC... This is one of the few clubs that have retained the ability to manually time their own races and not depend on chip timing companies. They are able to put on races that have a very low entry fee.

Take for example the Cloyne Commons 4k Challenge Series. This costs just €5 per race to enter.

If a non-club runner now wants to enter, they will have to pay €2 extra which is a 40% increase. Add in the €1 online fee which wasn't there before for this race and it's €3 extra, a 60% increase.

It could be argued that going from €5 to €8 isn't that much extra so it's no big deal. Some non-club runners may well decide just to do their own run on those Sunday mornings closer to home and just keep the €8.

The likes of East Cork AC and West Waterford AC are very much at the grassroots in terms of road races and organising them at a very modest fee. This new fee will probably impact these type of races the most.

b) Typical club race with a €15 entry fee... The big races with say 500 plus runners may well be able to absorb the cost and carry on as usual. I can see problems with smaller races with say 100-250 entrants and tight margins. It may well feel to those clubs that the long arm of the national association is reaching into the kitty and taking out a big chunk of the proceeds. I suspect some clubs will question if they are putting on a race to raise a few Euro for their own club's activities or are they fundraising for Athletics Ireland?

c) Big events like 10-milers, Half-marathons, Marathons e.g. Cork, Clonakilty, etc... The entry fees here tend to be in the €40+ bracket and most are online entry only. These tend to be special events that are less price sensitive and people train especially for these races. I suspect the extra €2 won't make  much difference. The question is if the organisers will absorb the cost or pass it on to the runner. I suspect the latter. 

On balance, what does it all mean?

Athletics Ireland will be the big winner out of this. They say they have 650 permitted events per year. Let's just say 100 non-club runners per event at €2 a head and that amounts to €130,000 a year. I suspect in reality, it will be much more. No matter what happens, Athletics Ireland are coming out ahead.

The clubs are the losers in this. This new fee is just an additional cost and it's likely to dampen race numbers. I suspect some of the smaller races with tight margins will no longer be viable.

For charity races with permits, this new fee will be unwelcome. I suspect some will wonder if it's worth holding a race to raise funds or would they be better just holding their own event without an Athletics Ireland permit.

For non-club runners, they can pay the bit extra if they want. But there are also other alternatives.

The Cork BHAA race only cost non-reg runners €10 max and if they join the BHAA for €10 for the year then they will be saving money after two races.

The same can't be said for most athletic clubs which cost in the region of €40-€60 to join. There's no point joining a club to avoid paying the extra €2 one day licence charge.

And then there's the elephant in the room...the 5k parkruns....on every Saturday at 9:30am, timed and completely free. Why pay any extra charge or even an entry fee when you can run for free.

I don't think anyone knows for sure how this one-day licence fee will play out but most of the club races in 2022 were already well down on the figures for 2019. This additional cost for non-club runners is unlikely to help a recovery.

This system will be introduced from the 1st of January 2023. We'll find out soon enough what impact the changes will have.


Anonymous said...

One of the dilemmas for event organizers at the moment is that the entry fee for online entry has a handling charge added whereas if you enter on the day there’s no handling charge. Also many registered events are for local schools and charities and the occasional runners and walkers may be discouraged. This will not enhance athletics reputation!

Anonymous said...

What, if any, benefit does this have to someone running an event?

Anonymous said...

killing the goose that lays the golden eggs

Anonymous said...

I don’t really have an issue with this €2 charge going to AI as long as they are proactive and constructive in spending the additional funds for the benefit of Irish athletics and athletes. And as long as they seriously up their game which they are in need of. My only issue is why are AI continually looking to mass events to fill the coffers rather than securing better funding from government. Particularly when additional funding has gone to other codes in recent years, unfairly in my view.

Anonymous said...

But there has always been an administrative charge with race entries unless you were directly handing your entry form over a counter. Postal entries carried a postal fee. Also in reality most on the day entries are advertised at an additional ‘on the day’ fee for entry. As regards charity events, effectively most are commercial events. You only have to view a charity’s financial reports to see how much is spent on salaries unlike clubs, run by volunteers.

Anonymous said...

The only real thing I can see happening here is events not bothering with the permit. It offers nothing, "insurance" if you are an Atletics club but I'd feel fearful of any club depending on that to cover them for anything. If you are raising a few quid for you club or charity through a small event why would you decide to give a kick backs of €50 + a bunch of €2s + 4.5% processing fees + credit card fees to Athletics Ireland and eventmaster. At least triathlon Ireland has leagues, national series accreditations and other carrots to entice events into their licencing system.

Anonymous said...

This licence charge is in every race on the continent. Athletics Ireland are merely catching up with every other federation. The key question is whether they will funnel it back into athletics and supporting developing and performing athletes. Perhaps expanding the carding system. The clubs (in general) are not doing enough for athletes trying to break into the High Performance Pathway so maybe it’s time for AAI to expand it to encourage more developing and upcoming athletes to reach for the next level.

Anonymous said...

Cost never came into my thoughts when deciding what races to do a few years ago, now could easy spend over a €100 euro on 4 races over a couple of months. Could spend over €600 a year now on race entry fees assuming 2 races a month at average €25/race entry which factored in a 10 mile/half marathon entry extra. Factor in marathon, Could be over €1000 plus a accomdation if needed per year a
On race entry fees.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't serious then it would be funny. Running is going through a post Covid Crisis and needs help and support. Club numbers are down, race numbers are down. There is a financial crisis hitting the country and the anonymous AI for the average runners for the last 3 years shoot themselves in the foot... Only in Ireland