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Club Law and Management

by Philip Smith, Secretary of the A.C.C.

SKY Television - Is it worth it?

We often receive correspondence from Clubs on the issue of Sky Television and whether they should continue to pay for the subscription given the expensive nature of a subscription. Often
this is prompted by an offer of cheaply sourced international Sky Television, such as Sky Italia. Although Sky Italia is unlawful to be broadcast in the UK, due to copyright infringement, we do
recommend that Club Committees carefully look at their Sky packages to make sure that they are providing value for money.

Committees will regularly point out that with the addition of Sky they are assured an audience for weekend football; this in itself is not enough to justify continuing to pay high amounts for a Sky subscription. The general rule of thumb is that a Club must supply one pint for every £1 of net expenditure. This means if your monthly subscription is £800, then a Club must be able to sell 1600 pints. Unless the Club is achieving these figures it is likely that Sky is loss making for the Club.

If it cannot be clearly establishedthat the revenue which can be directly attributed to Sky makes having the provision of Sky profitable for the Club, then it may well be in a Club’s financial interest to eliminate the high cost of a Sky subscription. There is still sport which is shown on free to air television, notably international and Champions League football along which occasional rugby matches. Whilst these may not make up for the attendance lost due to not having regular Sky Sports coverage these will often still provide an audience for the Club which, along with suitable promotions alongside them, will create an audience inside the Club for these events.

The ACC, along with other Club organisations, has consistently lobbied Sky to create a package which is suitable for Clubs, taking into account the special conditions under which Clubs must operate. The fact that Sky continues to calculate the subscription prices against a Club’s rateable value means that for more and more Clubs, Sky has become an expensive luxury rather than a necessity. Clubs historically have a high rateable value due to inheriting large buildings; however this bears little relevance to a Club’s financial situation.

We have consistently lobbied Sky on these facts; however, we have not been successful in negotiating a new subscription package tailored for Clubs. Sky’s priority seems to be shifting from providing services for commercial establishments to targeting the home market which may be why they may have been unwilling to create a package which is commercially viable for Clubs. We are therefore advising all our Clubs to carefully evaluate whether a Sky subscription is profitable for the Club and if it is not, then we recommend reviewing the arrangement. At this time we have no reason to expect Sky to re-evaluate its pricing structure to Clubs. However, we shall on every available opportunity continue to lobby Sky to create a reasonable solution for Clubs. Any further updates will be included in the Magazine.

Questions and Answers

Q. At a Committee Meeting two members attended the meeting with the intention of being co-opted onto the Committee. At the meeting there was a split vote which resulted in the Chariman having the casting vote. A question was rasied over whether the proposed Members should have been able to vote on this matter.

A. As the meeting was to determine if these two individuals should be co-opted onto the Committee they would not be eligble to vote on that matter. Only properly elected or appointed Committee Members and Officers are entitled to vote at Committee Meetings. These two members were not members of the Committee at the time of the vote. I suggest the vote is taken again with these two members not in attendance.

Q. Should we be keeping informaiton and Accounts and if so should these be kept away from the Club premises?

A. Whilst orignal Membership and Accounting Records should be kept on site, it is beneficial for there to be backups made of these documents/records which are stored off site. Backups should never be kept near the original records and should be frequently maintained and updated.

Q. A Member has asked whether the new style electric cigarettes are legal to be used in the Club. Apparently they have a small cartridge inserted which gives the impression of smoking and are actually been retailed as an aid to give up cigarettes. I am assured there is no nicotine or toxins included in the device.

A. I would strongly suggest that the Committee do not allow such a device to be used. I am not entering into an argument that the device is not a cigarette and is therefore not illegal, my advice is based purely on the fact that the device looks exactly like a cigarette and therefore will either give the wrong impression about the Club and may give rise to complaints being made, or it may indicate to other members or guests that the Club premits smoking and that as a result they light up a real cigarette which could create serious problems for the Club.

Q. We are a Club with 250 members although there are never any more than 30-50 members in the Club. Should either the Steward or another employee hold a first aid certificate and must we conduct a yearly risk assessment?

A. The Club is required to conduct a risk assessment of hazards and fire risks in the workplace. Completing this risk assessment will help you establish your first aid requirements.

Most Clubs will be classified as a low-risk enviroment after the risk assessment has been preformed. As a low-risk environment the minimum first aid provision is:
* a suitably stocked first aid box
* a person appointed to take charge of first aid arrangements
* information for employees on first aid arrangements

As the Club has less than 25 employees you will not need a properly trained First Aider but should have an employee responsible for dealing with any first aid related incidents (we have guides to First Aid and Risk Assessments which can be emailed to interested Clubs).


Q. It would be very helpful for us and probably many other ACC Clubs around the country if the ACC could collect information regarding the rates of pay and terms under which they employ their Steward/Stewardess. This would give clubs valuable guidance on how much to offer when advertising for a Steward.

A.  I think it is a good idea to calculate some form of standard rates of pay. This would obviously be beyond the normal national minimum wage. The problem we have is  that are so many constituent factors. The size of the Club, the number of Members, the  responsibilities involved, the area of the UK and the length of service which can have a dramatic effect.

Apart from the obvious factors mentioned above,  there are then addition points such as residential  accommodation
being provided, and whether or not a catering franchise might be involved.

You will see from my comments that whilst I agree with the concept of the idea, in practical
terms, it is very difficult to produce a model list of averages. I normally recommend Clubs to
contact a small number of local Clubs which are of a similar size,
to ascertain a local average. From this you will see whether you are heading in the right direction with your own package, bearing in mind, of course, the factors I have mentioned above.

Q. Currently we charge members a reduced annal subsciption rate if they are in receipt of a State Pension and have been members for 15 or more years. Could we be in breach of the Equalities Act by charging different rates based purely on age?

A. The Club does not need to be concerned. The Act does not seek to outlaw special rates of entrance or subsciption for either senior citizens or children.

Discounts can be offered on the grounds of age. Junior members and senior members can be offered special terms if the Club decides this is appropriate, provided they are offered equally to men and women.


Q. Please can you clarify how the Gambling Act affects persons under 18 years of age playing bingo at our Club. We normally allow persons aged under 18 to play but have been told that his is not allowed.

A. In Private Members' Clubs persons under 18 years of age can participate in bingo if they are legitmate members of the Club or are guests of Members. However, you should make sure that the Rules of the Club allow for the admittance of under 18's as either Junior Members or guests of Members.


Q. We have amended our Rules to allow women to become Full Members. Previously Members have been told that they could bring their wives into the Club at anytime without needing to sign them in. Is this still the case now that women can become Full Members?

A.  We can confirm that any person who is not a member of the Club must be correctly signed in. This applies to all guests, including spouses of Members. It was never, in fact, the case that spouses could freely enter the Club without being signed in and whilst this may have been the practice of the Club, it was not included as a Rule.

The Licensing Act 2003 makes no distinciton between guests and spouses of Members and it is a breach of your Licensing conditions and of the Club's own Rules to allow non-members into the Club without first signing them in.

Spouses can, of course, continue to enjoy the Club's facilities as long as they are correctly signed into the Club upon arrival.


Q. A Member purchased tickets from our pull tab lottery machine and allowed his granddaughter to pull back the perforated tabs. One was a winner and the Member got the money. However, another Member has said that we are allowing minors to gamble. Were any Rules broken in this incident?

A. I have looked into this issue and am satisfied that no rules were broken with the incident that you described. A Pull Tab Lottery is run under the same rules as a Private Lottery which means that there is no age limit on the participants or purchases of tickets. In Private Lotteries persons of any age may partake in the lottery.