Bowls: Bowls NZ and centres at loggerheads over membership fees

By Dale Budge

Mandy Boyd examines the bowls during the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images
Mandy Boyd examines the bowls during the Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty Images

Bowls New Zealand is running into some resistance from its centres over their proposed change to membership fees and will struggle to pass the motion at Monday's Special General Meeting.

The sport's governing body was hoping to lock in a new membership fee structure that would see clubs pay a fee based on their 2014 membership numbers over the next three years. The plan would give Bowls New Zealand some certainty around its income over that time period but the clubs are reluctant to agree to it as falling memberships would see clubs paying greater fees.

"The Northern Region - these are all the centres from the Waikato up to the top of the North Island - met up yesterday and everyone is on the same page," Bowls Auckland General Manager Phil Vyver tells NZ Herald.

"It was agreed that there was a lot of potential benefit from this proposed system in that it frees things up from a club point of view. They currently get charged a per member fee rather than a club fee so it frees the club to collect that money however they want.

"The down side, and where we think there needs to be more discussion before it gets adopted, is that there is uneasiness about using 2014 figures rather than 2015. That is simply because for those clubs that have lost members you are then paying more than what you would be than if it was done on a per-person base."

Memberships across the country are trending down as more and more people prefer to play the game casually. Overall playing numbers are up meaning casual pay-for-play bowlers are becoming more prevalent. Finding a way to get those players to contribute to the overall membership fee is a new challenge facing the sport.

There are a couple of other issues around the new proposals that the clubs are unsure about. One aspect is how to deal with clubs that amalgamate and another is Bowls NZ's insistence that every person that steps on a green to play must be registered with the national body.

Vyver says the Northern Region centres will opt to vote against the proposal on Monday but insists there is no animosity between the clubs and Bowls NZ.

"We sat around the table saying we are going to vote against this but let's go with a positive attitude and come up with some points to say if these things change a little bit then we can probably get it across the line.

"All of the lower South Island is going to vote against it. I don't think we are out of step with a fair chunk of the country."

Vyver believes a compromise could be reached.

"I think if they used the 2015 figures or the most recent figures they have got then that would go a long way to getting a vote in favour of it."

Bowls NZ says they are not trying to force the centres to accept this new proposal and are only trying to come up with a plan that will help the sport evolve.

"If there is resistance to adopt this plan we are not going to try and force a vote," Bowls NZ chief executive Kerry Clark says.

"We are perfectly happy to continue with the status quo. If there needs to be more dialogue and discussion around this proposal then we are happy for that to happen."

- NZ Herald

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