Get Rid Of The National Stewards To Cut The Costs

It’s not going to be many weeks before clubs that run British Championship events in the main series, the Novogar series, the Classic series, the Ladies series, the Sidecar and the youth series have to apply to the ACU for the dates on which they wish to hold the respective rounds in which they are interested in hosting next year.

For years this has been a pretty straightforward process and the ACU have allocated events as best they can to the interested clubs. There’s every reason to suppose that applications to run events in 2009 will be treated in the same way.

But, and this could well be a big but, if travelling costs continue to rise as they have done so these past few months, just how many riders will be prepared to tackle a full series of events, in whichever championship they are interested, if it is going to cost them an absolute fortune to do so?

To some extent, costs of taking part in a championship series, have been reasonable for many years. Whilst the cost of fuel has continued to rise inexorably, it has been proportionate to the general costs of living. This may not be exactly proportionate, but just accept for a moment that what I write is about true.

However, since January, the price of fuel has risen massively and I can see the situation where simply to attend all rounds of a series has become prohibitively expensive.

Which brings me to the point emanating from my first paragraph. Some clubs that currently host a round of a series may consider that entries to their planned event next year may well drop off considerably, perhaps to the point where it becomes unviable. So will there be enough applications from clubs to run all the rounds of all the series next year?

I don’t know. But if there are not enough, then we could well see a situation where the ACU may decide to reduce the number of rounds in any particular series, in order for it to retain significance for riders.

Of course, some clubs run spectacularly good trials and can get entries come what may, and those clubs are indeed fortunate, but as I repeat myself, applications may well be reduced with the subsequent knock on effect that means.

Running a national trial is more expensive than running any other type of trial. One cost that is to my mind exorbitant is the cost of the permit/steward fee, which is £135 (correct me if I’m wrong). And I ask whether this large sum is really necessary?

Each national trial is allocated a national steward who is paid expenses to attend. However, it seems to me that in many cases the appointed steward frequently has to travel several hundred miles to attend. And with the best will in the world, no matter how efficient or popular they are, on the day of the event they serve no useful purpose.

All the responsibility is in the hands of the clerk of the course, and if he does his job correctly and follows the ACU rulebook, there is – to my mind – simply no need for a national, ACU appointed steward.

Look, we are only talking about trials here, not racing where the safety requirements are much higher, and in my 42 years of riding events all over the country, I cannot recall a single incident in which the presence of a national steward has been required.

The argument will probably be that they are there to view the efficiency of the event and the quality of the organisation so that in the future, if the club applies for a national, then their past history is taken into account prior to the club being allocated the event.

If that’s the case it’s a load of b******s because I’ve been to numerous events during my career that have been abysmal, yet the next year and many years following, they’ve been allocated the same trial which has frequently been just as bad.

So, let’s cut the costs to clubs as much as we can and either kick the need for a national steward into touch, or at least get local ACU men to officiate and remunerate them according to the distance travelled. They are all supposed to be impartial, so it should not matter whether they are locals or not!