The divided diamond

At 7:45 pm last night the news dropped that Liverpool Trojans and 8 other teams opted to start a baseball league of their own. Under the name of the Northern Baseball League, the teams elected to take a step away from being full members of the BBF (British Baseball Federation) and decided to become affiliates. The move is seen as a protest by the organisations at the current state of the BBF and the democratic process involved within it. bbf_logo_shadow_400px_smallThe statement list 3 main factors in the decision, A non-democratic voting system, a breakdown in the relationship between BBF and BSUK (Baseball Softball UK) in the funding and direction of the sports and general mismanagement. Whilst this move is not the end of all communications and not to say the teams will not re-enter the BBF fold fully until next season, as their statement indicates, they are willing to discuss this after the next AGM if relevant changes are made.
Kevin Macadam, a former board member of the BBF, along with his Lisa Janson a former BBF and BSUK Director resigned recently after the BBF AGM. The reasons for resignation were they felt that they could achieve more outside of the BBF and BSUK working directly for the Northern teams rather than being embroiled in the politics of two ineffective organisations.
Kevin was clear in the reasons that the teams have decided to opt for affiliate status are purely because they believe that this will send a clear message to the BBF and BSUK that they have no confidence in them developing baseball in the North of England. The belief from Kevin was that the Northern League would benefit them as affiliates as they will only pay £100 per team as opposed to the £400 to be full members. That extra money will remain with the clubs allowing them to invest in their own promotion and development. This isn’t new in the BBF circles as the South West League has worked on this basis since its existence.
The downside to affiliate status is that there will be no playoff baseball for the teams although that’s already been planned around. Kevin was keen to state they would arrange their own “Finals weekend at the great facility in Hull”. The reduction in fees will also make it easier for new teams to be developed. “As full members of the BBF a new start-up would cost £150 for insurances and £400 for membership” Kevin stated, “under the new setup this cost is more than halved”. twojansteam
The democratic imbalance has come into effect in recent years with the adoption of Little League as the BBF Youth program, which has been extensively utilised in London. Under the old rules each senior team, after they had paid full fees, would be allocated a vote and they simply had to send their representative to the meetings. The introduction of the Little League system, which costs just £100 to set up your first team and then £15 for affiliates, were at some point “morphed” into the constitution. When Kevin tried to understand how and when these teams had been given a full vote there seemed to be no paper trail, but everyone accepted it as fact. With the new system in place the London teams, now amassing with near 35 youth teams have a huge portion of the vote in any decision making the power was firmly in the grasp of those youth organisations.
A motion tabled to adjust the balance and restrict youth votes to just one per each age range per club thus capping it at 4 votes per youth organisation was defeated at the recent BBF AGM.
The newly elected BBF President, Gerry Perez was a major beneficiary of the voting system as he heads up London Sports one of the youth organisations that controls 21 votes and therefore is happy with status quo remaining where the voting is concerned.
Another major factor was the distribution of funding and projects currently being completed by BSUK. The organisation was originally set up, in conjunction with BBF and BSF (British Softball Federation), to grow both sports. The organisation is funded by Sport England and as such has to pitch for its budget every few years. The latest disagreement between the Northern League and BSUK came about when a few of the teams questioned information published in a report covering the numbers of teams and players that BSUK had managed to generate in the North. In February of last year as Northern Commissioner Macadam asked BSUK what development work was being done in the North so that he could have a clear picture of where teams needed help.
His request was met with a defensive report detailing the work done by BSUK in the North and an exaggerated claim by BSUK that there were 39 teams in the North when in fact by their own counting methodology there was in fact only 24 teams. When Kevin contacted BSUK and asked them to rectify their report, he and the BBF were told that the figures would not be changed. At which point the BBF refused to endorse the figures reported to Sport England.
With this being another stand taken against an increasingly isolated BBF, the questions being asked will need to be answered but as of this going to press there has been no contact from them. This could well be the start of a messy breakup but as we stand tonight the Northern League is about to embark on an exciting new dawn.

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4 thoughts on “The divided diamond

  1. Hi Matt. I like your blog. I have just discovered it, as I have been following this activity within the BBF with great interest. I hope that the other sides of the story will come out. I did want to point out that Gerry Perez does not head up LondonSports. He is in charge of their “Travel Team” programme (which is the portion of their club which sends youth teams to compete in tournaments) but not the entire club.

    1. Hi Drew,

      Thanks for the comment, I have asked for a response from BBF but as of yet have hand no response. I would love to hear the other side or the story and give them a chance to air their own views.

      1. Awesome. Well I look forward to seeing how this develops. I wasn’t at the AGM, but from what I understand there were quite a few points of view about this.

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