British Baseball Federation leaves BaseballSoftballUK Membership

Thu 10 Dec 2020

10 December 2020: BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK) regrets to announce today that with immediate effect, the British Baseball Federation (BBF) is no longer a Member.

Despite the undoubted shared commitment of both organisations to grow participation in baseball across the UK, and the best efforts by BSUK Staff and Board Members, the BBF’s membership of BaseballSoftballUK has reached an untenable state. Recent invitations to participate in independent mediation at BSUK’s expense were declined by the BBF.

At a BaseballSoftballUK Board meeting last night (9 December), the Board considered the question of whether the BBF had violated the Company’s rules, which according to the Company’s Articles, would result in automatic termination of the BBF’s membership. The Board concluded that the BBF Board’s actions had, in fact, infringed the membership rules, citing specifically several public acts of harm and a continued failure to constructively further the aims of BSUK.

Regardless of these unfortunate circumstances, the Board of Directors of BaseballSoftballUK wishes to make clear that it and BaseballSoftballUK remain fully committed to its role developing and growing the wonderful sports of baseball and softball in the UK.

Today’s announcement differs from the announcement made by the British Baseball Federation in September that they were not renewing the Agreement that governs the relationship between the BBF, BSUK and the British Softball Federation. Per that Agreement, the terms of that contract remain in place until 1 April 2021. The rule infringements end the BBF’s membership of BaseballSoftballUK.

The BSUK Board of Directors regrets that it has come to this point and wishes to reassure all its stakeholders that every effort was made by the Board to avoid this situation. It also noted the great efforts of so many people within or connected to BSUK to further the aims of the BBF over more than two decades.

BSUK has discussed this matter at length with its key funding partners. The Board is now clear that there are no material impediments to securing Sport England funding and maintaining ongoing compliance with the Government’s Code of Sports Governance. Despite this departure, BaseballSoftballUK’s work for baseball and softball will continue uninterrupted.

Reflecting the significant value that the BSUK Board places on its relationship with the BBF, the former has spent more than a year working with the BBF Board to understand the latter’s concerns. However, this has proved impossible due to the intransigence of the BBF’s Board.

While the organisations’ paths diverge at this time, the BSUK Board of Directors very much hopes that that the BBF will re-join in future, should its leadership and approach change. The BSUK Board is committed to ensuring that there is a suitable voice for baseball within its governance structure and it will work with the baseball community over the coming months to identify a suitable representation mechanism.

In August, BSUK launched its new strategy for baseball and softball in the UK under the title “Two Sports, One Ambition”. BSUK will soon begin the facilitation of a baseball development plan, engaging across baseball. It is BSUK’s hope that this can be a process to bring all of baseball in the UK together behind a shared vision of the future.

###

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

Following numerous, public acts of harm, the BSUK Board of Directors decided that the BBF’s continued membership is no longer tolerable, nor permitted by the Company Articles.

The BBF continues to seek to raise historical issues as they relate to BSUK despite an independent review by BDO codifying a way forward and addressing these issues. The BDO report, which has been deemed confidential by Sport England, laid out several improvements for BSUK to make. These actions have been integrated in full in Board operational plans delivered this year and through its new strategy, published in August 2020.

BSUK will continue to work with the British Softball Federation and will work with the baseball community to create alternate representation for it as BSUK maintains its course to grow the participation in both sports for the long-term health and benefit of people in the UK.

The Board of BSUK is made up of eight people, seven of whom are independent of the sports and who had no direct involvement in the sports prior to their appointment by the BSUK Members. The Board’s responsibilities to the BSUK Members as a whole and to the development of the sports of baseball and softball are clear and it has made every effort to engage positively with both Members. The Board of Directors has now exhausted every avenue available for resolution and is now moving forward for the good of both baseball and softball in the UK.

The steps BSUK took earlier this year to introduce free services for Safeguarding and Development through our Development Charter will mean that clubs and leagues can continue to access our support and continue to be safeguarding compliant. For clubs and leagues affiliated with the BBF, all BSUK services will continue to be available to them until our Agreement with the BBF expires on 1 April 2021. After 1 April, any BBF Members who have not directly signed up to the Charter would need to join the Development Charter to continue to receive these services from BSUK or find alternative arrangements. Those organisations may join here.

Chartered organisations will continue to be eligible for BSUK facility grants. The Coach Summit 2021 and Coach Awards announced last week will proceed in January. BSUK will continue to work with BUCS on the introduction of baseball and softball to the University sports programme. Our #GameReady and safeguarding support will continue through the winter. Farnham Park Baseball & Softball Complex will prepare for the 2021 Season. 

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