The long-running battle over control of UEA’s sports clubs continues, after a vote at last Thursday’s Union Council reaffirmed the student union’s determination to retain sole control of sport at UEA. But Sally Maryosh, chair of the union’s sport executive committee, branded the current situation “frustrating”.
Maryosh opened the debate by speaking in favour of returning to round-table discussions with the Sports Partnership Group (SPG) about dramatically changing how clubs are financed and administered. This could have allowed the university a greater say in how UEA sport is run. Concrete reported on December 2014 on an attempt by the SPG to take control of sports clubs out of the union’s hands.
Speaking to Concrete after the vote, Maryosh said that she understood why Council was unwilling to countenance ceding control of sports clubs to the university. She explained that she brought the motion to Council because the sports executive felt that it would be better if there “wasn’t anything stopping any negotiations”.
Commenting on the debate itself, Maryosh said that she had been “frustrated” over the opposition to the motion because she was “coming from the position of students. I only gave a brief history [of discussions with the SPG] because it’s actually a rather complex issue – there is so much more to what is going on”.
An amendment proposed by Yinbo Yu, the union’s Opportunities and Activities Officer, and Liam McCafferty, Postgraduate Education Officer, stated that sport at UEA is expensive because the union is under-funded by the university. However, Maryosh argued that funding was available. “There is more funding, but it’s just not available under the current system. The sports clubs feel the restrictions when there is money [which is not being invested]. But clubs know that sport is expensive”, she said.
Yu expressed his support for the policy: “The union is absolutely committed to working in partnership with UEA on sport, but there’s a big difference between partnership and takeover”. He added: “Students at UEA don’t want their union’s grant to be cut or their sports clubs taken over”.
But Maryosh told Concrete that the sports societies didn’t “care who works for who. We deal with the product, and at the moment, that product isn’t getting there”. She added that the main issue which had been brought to the sport executive was not one of finance, but of “better structure and organisation, and just more support”.
Yu summarised by stating that he was “now keen that everyone – the SU, the uni and sports club – moves on from this debate and gets round the table to start solving practical problems – such as sponsorship, storage and facility allocation – that clubs tell us they’re facing”.