Statement on the BAFA Development Plan and the BAFA Fee


Sport in the UK has changed radically in the last twenty years. There are now many more professionals working in the support role of sports (management, marketing, development etc.) To be successful in today’s sports environment all the major Sports have had to re-structure along corporate lines and utilise a professional approach to their operations. Rugby is possibly the highest visible example of a Sport that has restructured and re-launched itself in this way but many others Sports including hockey, netball and basketball have also gone down this route.

BAFA, as a responsible and pro-active National Governing Body, has a duty to its members to address development in the same manner that a company addresses sustainability and growth for its investors. BAFA must therefore have a realistic, credible development plan and commit sufficient resources to make the plan successful. Without this approach any growth in our sport can only be unstructured and will be achieved through mere good fortune.

The model from other sports is clear; development can be addressed seriously only by utilising a professional structure staffed by individuals with the specialist knowledge and skills required. BAFA in its development plans should follow this model.

The obvious hurdle BAFA has is being a comparatively tiny entity with very limited financial resources. This hurdle must be overcome for our sport to move forward.

All Sports National Governing Bodies (NGBs) operate financially on the fees generated through their memberships, plus any grant aid from the Government through Sport UK. This money allows them to develop their Sport from basic ‘Grass Roots’ programmes through to their elite player programmes. The individual’s contribution to the National Governing Body benefits them both directly and indirectly. Individual Federations/Associations benefit in the same manner. As each individual segment develops so does the whole.

At present BAFA does not receive any direct financial assistance from Central Government. Teams have received money from the ‘Awards for All’ grant but none of that money has come direct to BAFA.

The increase to £20 for the BAFA fee brings American Football into line with many other Sports.

The situation until 2002

Until 2002 the development of British American Football had always been allocated to volunteer individuals appointed by BAFA or the associated bodies. These individuals have for the most part been enthusiastic amateurs trying to deal with the impossible task of developing a national sport in their spare time. This system was all that was possible due to the paucity of resources available for anything better. Around this time the BAFA Board started discussing the increase of the BAFA fee to a level that would allow a pro-active approach to development.

2002 to 2005

In 2002 the NFL offered to fund on a part-time basis a position for an individual to research grants and assist BAFA teams in applying for these grants. The NFL made it clear they were willing to do this as a ‘start-up’ scheme and that BAFA would need to take over the funding of this position within two years. (This scheme was very effective bringing approximately £300,000 into the sport through ‘Awards For All’ grants to teams and other football groups). BAFA, having raised their fee to a level where they could envisage such an undertaking, agreed to take on half-funding of the position with the added proviso that this individual would also fulfil the role of National Development Officer. The NDO would also need to be supported by a number of RDOs (Regional Development Officers). The development team could then be tasked with implementing a development plan on a national basis. The NFL agreed to this scheme and the half-funding of all these positions.

At the January 2005 BAFA Board meeting the directors took the decision to review the NDO/RDO structure in light of a new development partnership with NFL. The outcome of this is that the present National Development Officer position will cease from 1st March 2005. The present Regional Development Officer (RDO) network will remain and they will be re-designated as Regional Development Assistants (RDAs).

BAFA is now planning to move to a more professional structure. This will involve recruiting the right people to take the Development Programme forward. This will include full time professional development staff who have the right qualifications in Sport Development to drive the plan forward.

There are obvious cost implications to this, which BAFA must address. BAFA is in discussion with the NFL for continued and increased financial support for this plan and the NFL have intimated they will support a credible development plan if there is a united commitment from BAFA.

BAFA/NFL Development Partnership

Over the last several months BAFA have held talks with the NFL regarding the continuation and improvement of the partnership for development. Despite the withdrawal of the Scottish Claymores the NFL still sees the UK as an area of huge potential growth. They have expressed a commitment to developing the game in the UK and acknowledge BAFA’s key role in this process.

BAFA are currently putting together a ‘business plan’ to submit to the NFL. This will provide the financial underpinning of the future BAFA Development Plan.

In the past the NFL has provided considerable support to BAFA included such schemes as:

- Funding the Grant Applications/National Development Officer and Regional Development Officers

- Funding the raising and development of NFL (5-on5) flag football

- Provision of equipment for flag football teams

- Financial support of the GB Lions Youth Team

- Financial and material support of the BAFCA annual coaches convention.

The NFL has been extremely generous in assisting BAFA in the past and there is a very high probability this will continue. BAFA are obviously very keen to grasp whatever assistance the NFL will give. There is however an understanding from both parties that BAFA must not become dependant on the NFL and must always plan for initiatives and schemes to become self-sustaining. The NFL is likely to continue to support BAFA wherever they see a united and committed approach to development issues. They have been very encouraged by the recent increases in the BAFA fee and as this demonstrates this commitment.

Financial Resources and funding BAFA

Sports Governing Bodies acquire their financial resources from a number of sources:

1. Members contributions (BAFA Fee)

This is the most reliable source of income for any governing body. Assuming that fees can be efficiently collected, this provides a fixed, measurable and forecastable income, limiting the effect of survival on external factors. Although placing the burden on members it provides the most controllable source of revenue for the Governing Body.

2. Sponsorship

If a sport has a high enough profile they can attract commercial sponsorship. BAFA is a tiny group in comparison to other sports and has almost no visibility in the national sports environment. At present, BAFA cannot plan on having sponsorship revenue to aid its budget and fund future development.

3. Government Grants

Many sports, like athletics, could not survive in their present form without huge financial assistance.

The government has informed all Sports NGB’s that they must make provision to become more self-sufficient. Sports UK have made the decision to focus what resources they have on ‘core’ sports. In effect, minority sports like American Football can expect no assistance from government funds. Small sums of money are still available to individual groups and teams through the ‘Awards For All’ scheme.

4. Patronage

This covers external benefactors who have an interest in seeing the sport survive and grow. Largely, patronage has been substituted by sponsorship. The NFLs support of BAFA may be seen as patronage as BAFA does not directly ‘promote’ the NFL.

BAFA then must plan at present to be self-reliant in funding its operations and development. The support of the NFL is at present the only external source of financial assistance. As development brings more people into the sport, funds will increase through extra fees. Increased participation also brings higher ‘visibility’ and increases the potential for gaining sponsorship.

The BAFA fee and what it funds

1. BAFA Administration – Telephone, stationery and postage, web site, meeting costs (meeting venue hire, travel and hotel expenses of BAFA Board members), other expenses.

2. EFAF (European Federation of American Football) – Affiliation fees, meeting costs (travel and hotel expenses for BAFA representative), EFAF tournament fees.

3. IFAF (International Federation of American Football) – Affiliation fees (?)

4. Development – Fees/salaries/expenses for development officers, meetings/clinics etc.

5. National Programme.

 BAFA Administration

In the past, the Board members have absorbed much of the costs of running BAFA. In some cases each Association has paid expenses for their representative. This situation has know been rectified and in future when attending to BAFA business the Board members will have their expenses covered by BAFA.


Membership of these bodies allows BAFA to be represented at club and National Team level in international competition. EFAF and IFAF recognise BAFA as the sole body representing football within the UK.


A major part of the BAFA fee is and must continue to be allocated to Development. With future growth will come increased revenue generation allowing greater investment or better returns for members. (See BAFA development plan)

 National Programme

The National Programme is the flagship of BAFA football. It allows a pathway for elite development, increases visibility and credibility for British American Football and provides an education resource back to all BAFA members.

The Future of BAFA development

The BAFA Board are currently reviewing the BAFA development plan. Of key importance is the acceptance that BAFA needs experienced, professional advice and resources. The appointment of a professional development team is the first and most important stage. Once this team is in place their first role will be to review existing plans and advise on the future course of development. Hence, the present development plan is not fully compiled but the following schemes and initiatives are envisaged.

 Marketing and Publicity

A much more active and creative presence must be generated by BAFA. This role will tie in very closely with the new development team and will take advantage of other initiatives like the National Programme. The NFL obviously has considerable experience and resources in this area and under the partnership scheme would provide major assistance.

 Grass Roots Initiative

Continued support and development of the existing GRI. The GRI promotes flag football to children and young people through schools, clubs and youth organisations. A comprehensive GRI programme is essential for the growth and sustenance of any sport. The benefits to individual players, teams and federations are interlinked:

1. Generate interest from a new generation of football players.

2. Increase participation in the sport.

3. Develop community-coaching programmes.

4. Improve club participation in the community.

5. Long-term development of players starting at a younger age.

6. Development of a ladder system of players moving into upper tiers of football (flag to youth to college and/or senior).

7. Develop stability for teams with continued development of young players.

8. A ‘Grass Roots’ programme provides an attractive proposal for potential sponsors.

BAFA investment in the GRI programme will initially benefit BYAFA. However an increasing number of Youth players are now seeking places at Universities with existing football programmes to continue their own development. As more ex-youth players enter University (with a possible 3-8 years of playing experience), their presence will help raise the quality of the college game. They will also provide impetus for further growth of new teams (many of the present college teams were started by ex-youth team players wishing to continue playing the game at University). Senior teams will also benefit from the new generation of football players as they feed through the system.

Obviously investment in future participation does not benefit today’s participants now. Today’s BAFA members must accept a level of benefaction to provide a legacy for the future. BAFA as the NGB has a duty to engender this action within the current membership.

 Coach Education and Development

Education of our ‘educators’ is vital. All BAFA associations have committed to strong support of the BAFCA as the educating body by enforcing membership and qualification of the Coaches Association. The BAFCA Coach Education Programme must continue to be developed. The continuing support of the BAFCA by the NFL through the ‘partnership’ is of major benefit and there are several new initiatives currently under consideration for adoption.

 Officials Recruitment and Development:

BAFA acknowledges this is a crucial issue at present. There are already many games going ahead without officials. Without a significant increase in the number of officials any expansion in the number of teams will make this situation much worse. BAFRA (the Referees Association) has a small but very experienced corps of members. This must be supported and nurtured. BAFA are currently in talks with BAFRA on how this situation can best be addressed.

 Team and Club Development

The setting-up of workshops to provide practical help and advice on how to develop clubs. These would need to be specific to the teams ‘League environment’ and would directly support the Leagues/Associations in delivery. Topics covered should be recruiting of players, coaches, managers and volunteers, operations procedures, building a profile in the community, developing links with Local Councils and Education Authorities, building a team grass roots programme, improving performance on and off the field, approaching sponsors, developing a PR programme.

Staff workshops: Improve the off field performance of clubs. How to assign and structure responsibilities for the day-to-day running for your club. Reporting structures. How to approach and deal with out side bodies. Keeping people involved in the sport. Recruiting new people to the sport.

Grant workshops: Providing information and assistance on grants available to teams and or players. Giving experienced advice on the application procedure.


Football in Britain is now twenty-three years old. Although the boom days of the 80’s gave way to bust in the 90’s, the sport is now slowly growing again. With the NFL presently re-considering it’s own development plans and offering an increased contribution to BAFA the time is now right to push the sport forward to the next level.