Last night's meeting of the Union Executive Committee put off a decision on the final terms of its sports partnership with the College, due to concerns about the attitude of Sport Imperial.
The partnership was originally proposed around a year ago, with the Union rejecting the plan outright as it looked like an attempt by the College to take over the sports teams. After negotiations by Deputy President (Clubs & Societies) Eric Lai a veto was added allowing the Union to block any actions it feels would move clubs towards direct College control.
Under the terms of the agreement sports teams will receive extra funding and support, along with an extra member of staff paid for jointly by the partners to handle sports administration. The partnership was approved earlier in the year, with Mr Lai lending his full support to the idea. However, Lai has now expressed concerns that Sport Imperial are already taking over events. Previous partnerships with College have led to the loss of student-led events and associated profits.
The annual ACC dinner is one of the first events to be consumed, with College looking at running it as a "Sports Partnership" dinner, at a cost of £50. Not only is this a high cost, it is proposed to run it during the exam period and close to the centenary summer ball. Lai expressed his view that the Athletics Clubs Committee Chair, Luke Taylor, had "offered it on a plate" to the College.
A Sports Festival was originally proposed by a student to run during May, as a centenary event to raise money for the Student Opportunites Fund or Beit Redevelopment. Sport Imperial are now running the event, claiming it will make no profit and hence not donate any money. The event would charge £50 a team for four sports, with over ten universities and sponsorship in the form of corporate teams. A barbecue and bar - almost a license to print money at sports events - would provide additional sources of revenue.
The primary concern with the transfer of sport to College is the promotion of sporting excellence over inclusiveness - when BUSA points are the most important thing, is there any room for less skilled players? The Union is to seek further assurances and safeguards against a complete take-over of the sports clubs.
Update: Lauren Davies (ICSMSU Clubs and Societies Officer), who originally proposed the Sports Festival, has asked us to note that it was always aimed at being non-profit "to encourage participation and the highest quality of sporting performance possible". It is still student-led, with financial and administrative support from Sport Imperial.