UNITED WE STAND BUT DIVIDED WE FALL
by Mike Lakin
Wouldn't it be good if...
Many of those who are involved with the organisation of cross channel racing are well aware that it is becoming more and more difficult to budget for these longer races whilst trying to provide good prize money for the race winners. If sufficient numbers and support aren’t there it really is a case of mission impossible. For a few years now many Federations have been trying to juggle with the figures as the entry numbers spiralled down and down. It has been clear to the more level and open minded that races from French race points was really a thing of the past for all but the largest Federations.
Continental racing is gradually being left to the National and Classic clubs. More recently it is becoming abundantly clear that there are too many channel organisations for a dwindling membership. Quite simply there are too many races on offer for them to all be successful. I have been giving it much thought on what is the solution on how the specialist clubs can carry on with the hope of a secure future. For me the only answer is for the Classic Clubs to come under the umbrella of one of the ‘Big Two’, the Midlands National or National Flying Clubs. By following this course of action and becoming a duplication club from either of the National organisations the Classic Clubs will not only be able to survive but actually prosper.
As someone who hears much of the talk I ask how many of the Classic Clubs can truly say that they are operating in a truly prosperous and cost effective manner at the present time? The facts are that transporters cost just as much to go to over to France whether there are 50 or 5,000 birds on board. I know for sure that when there are plenty of pigeons on the transporter that there will be more prize money and the birds are more likely to be looked after better in the finest transporters and with no worries in regard of feeding costs and obtaining the most up to date and accurate weather forecasts, which are expensive, especially in the case of long holdovers. At the moment it must be very tempting for the smaller organisations to rely on ‘home’ forecasts obtained off the internet. This really isn’t good enough with a valuable cargo of racing pigeons on board. With the best will in the world the channel can be a very temperamental ‘beast’ and so the need of a professional adviser(s) cannot be over emphasised.
It must be a real temptation when the entry is low to gamble in an attempt to cut expenditure and liberate when the weather outlook is rather ‘iffy’. For me this is totally unacceptable but when the funds are low it is sadly understandable that it happens. Surely our highly prized birds deserve the very best treatment that we can give to them without tempting fate.
I am well aware that most of the Classic Club members are also members of one or even both of the National organisations mentioned earlier in this article. This fact makes it even easier to see the benefits of choosing to be carried by one of the two which would mean that the smaller Classic Club could duplicate back from the National club race and so the costs and worries would be minimised. A huge bonus would be the fact the birdage duplication price could be quite considerably reduced whilst the prize money would be greatly increased because there would be no transportation costs, also with no need for any costly marking and clock stations so all of the entry fees could be paid out in prizes.
Obviously the National clubs would benefit from the extra birdages that they would obtain from any amalgamation but this would be dwarfed in comparison to the advantages that the duplication organisations would be rewarded with by way of extra members who would undoubtedly be wishing to take advantage of the chance to duplicate their entries back into the Classic Club. So for a small amount of outlay the opportunity is there to have two bites of the cherry. If this initiative was followed a larger proportion of the entry fees would go into the prize pot instead of into the ferry company coffers and substantial fuel expenses.
The more cynical reader may ask ‘where has he dreamed this one up from?’ It’s very simple, I looked across the channel to Belgium and it is the way in which they operate. To form a club to compete in their longer races they have to compete in the races organised by such as the Entente Belge. In this way no individual club suffers financial loss. Surely if this works for the Belgians it can work for us in the UK.
I am certain that if this were to be the way that we operate in the future the benefits would be gained by us all. The only question now is how can this be achieved? Well the members of the Classic Clubs who can see the many benefits of a union with a National organisation must make their opinions known and put the idea forward at future meetings or AGMs because unfortunately I doubt that many of the people who are currently in charge of the Classics will make the decision on their own. This is simply because they will view it as both a capitulation and also undermining their power. Actually the reverse is the truth of the matter with both an increase in membership and entries for us all. In this way we will all grow to be both more cost efficient and therefore stronger. Never I believe has the saying ‘united we stand but divided we will fall’ been more accurate and true.
For my vision to achieve reality it is down to you the members of the Classic Clubs. Is your club failing? Then do something about it and don’t just nod your head on reading this piece and then do nothing otherwise my vision will remain just a ‘pipe dream’ while you act like thousands of Neros ‘fiddling while your empire burns’.
Elimar - February 2015