Like all USACA initiatives, the individual membership masterplan took a while to get formulated and membership declined in the interim. But having a plan beats not having one at all.
By Venu Palaparthi
In a media release issued over the weekend, the USA Cricket Association (USACA) announced that it was accepting individual 'supporter' members. The new membership category is aimed at US cricket fans that want to be part of the US cricket scene. For $50, Supporter Members will receive certain benefits from USACA partners and a 'Supporter Member' pack containing a membership card, a lapel pin, discounts on insurance coverage, discounts to USACA events, etc. USACA announced that $40 for each supporter member will be used by the Regions to support development in the local area.
Readers will note that the American Cricket Federation (ACF) has had individual player and supporter membership categories since that organization's inception. And the USACA plan for individual membership differs from ACF's in two key areas. The two ACF individual membership options are offered at the $10 per annum level and the ACF player membership is vested with voting privileges by the ACF constitution.
For USACA, the individual membership proposal appears to have been motivated by the need to address a funding shortfall. USACA noted in the release that the 'theme of Empowering the Regions is the foundation in which USACA’s activities this year.' USACA wrote that it would also allocate $100 for each team that signed up as a member during 2014.
In essence, this newly announced funding plan marks a return to the grassroots focus that USACA has talked about (and one that DreamCricket has advocated) for years.
The announcement also underscores USACA's inability to make good on its royalty-fueled ambitions that were touted in town-hall meetings in 2011. USACA announced then that it stood to earn $2 Million per year beginning 2011, and proposed a 40-20-20-20 formula, which would have allocated 40% to USACA national operations, 20% towards creating a long-term reserve fund, 20% to the regions and the remaining 20% to the leagues. “This is a chance for us to broaden our horizons,” Dainty had said then. Some two years later, those horizons haven't yet broadened.
As far back as April 2010, USACA Treasurer John Thickett and then CEO Don Lockerbie spoke of development of a masterplan for individual membership fees and benefits. Thickett told the 2010 AGM attendees that roughly $30K or less than 7% of USACA revenue in 2009 was from membership fees, a very low percentage when compared to other associates and affiliates. Lockerbie said that individual sports like badminton charged $25 per player and the fee was higher for team sports.
Like all USACA initiatives, the individual membership masterplan took a while to get formulated even as membership declined in the interim. But having a plan beats not having one at all.
There are a large number of supporters who would like for cricket to be developed and played in this country without regard to the politics. Many of them spend over $300 per annum to watch cricket on TV. If USACA can find a way to reach this core, it will have finally solved a small part of the funding puzzle.