Colleges boycott Team Durham fees

“We’re angry because there was a lack of information, and a lack of warning”: colleges refuse to pay Team Durham fees after subs double from last year.

With less than a week until fee payment is due, college sports officers have slammed the lack of information and warning given to them about the new Team Durham fee-paying system.

Considered the biggest unified PresComm issue of the year, the revolt appears to be a unanimous decision. 

Stephen Hook, President of Van Mildert, told The Tab: “We are withholding payment until we are happy students are getting a good deal.”

Many feel it is “unreasonable” and “extortionate” for sports team members to have to pay more than £30 in subs at college level.

One college’s Union and Societies Officer told The Tab: “We think that £30 is an astronomical amount to pay considering we all paid Sports levies upon joining the university.

“Team Durham are forgetting one key factor – that we are students. How are we meant to be able to afford to play more than one college sports when subs are in the region of £30 to cover costs?

“The lack of communication regarding the increases is simply unacceptable.”

Complaints over the lack of communication arose after Team Durham reportedly gave no prior warning about the new fee-paying system, despite arguing that it was discussed at a meeting last year.

The new system sees colleges now having to pay by invoice, rather than the previous ‘pay as you play’ arrangement.

“We’re angry because there was a lack of information, and a lack of warning”, explained one college president.

Football appears to have been the most hard-hit, with many college players having to pay £30 in subs

One college football club captain said: “I was very angry. When we got to the meeting at the start of the year, none of the club captains knew anything about it.

“Tom claimed that at last year’s meeting the issue was brought up, but none of the club captains including myself knew anything about it.

“It’s just a lot of money to play football. It should be a cheap sport. And for the club to have to pay a lot of money to play football is annoying, and may well have put some people off.”

Another college exec member described these costs as a “deterrent” to many players:

“The costs make it unfeasible for many students to play more than one sport as they simply cannot afford it.”

But Team Durham College Sports Manager, Tom Newman, said: “I was appointed in September and as soon as I knew of the projected costs involved I informed the club captains in our initial meetings at the beginning of October.

“Football is the sport which has benefited the most from the new facilities – and as a result incurs the cost.

“The University’s Senior Management Team is extremely supportive of all aspects of sport at Durham University. As with any department we would always welcome further investment but it would be unfair, and wrong, to suggest that the University is not supporting, or funding, Durham University Sport.

90% of premiership matches are now played on the crumb

“If you add pitch hire prices and the cost of referees together the cost per student, based on an average squad size, is £30 per person for the season.

“We would be delighted if there were no costs at all but, set against the quality of programme we are now able to offer, I am confident that we are delivering value for money which is what students should, quite rightly, expect and demand.

As a Collingwood student himself, Tom says he understands how much college sport means to students as a part of their Durham experience:

“I genuinely want to make a positive difference to sport at Durham.

“I cannot apologise enough for the confusion that this may have caused and I would be more than happy to talk to anyone who would like any further clarification.”

The Tab also spoke to Quentin Sloper, Head of Sport at Team Durham: “One of the things we would love is if we were to get to a place where students didn’t have to pay for the AstroTurf facilities of the rubber crumb.

“The reality is that we have to generate income to sustain the quality of the facilities and with the cost of grounds staff, equipment and general maintenance specifically associated with our artificial facilities everyone can be assured that our only objective is to ensure that we break even.

“We can’t continue to grow, or even sustain, the College Sport programme without using all of the facilities at our disposal – perhaps it’s a long term debate which needs to be had but, in the short term, what it does mean is that we actually have the opportunity to finish college football and rugby which is something that is always a real challenge.

“If colleges don’t want to play on the crumb, no one is making them – I guess there is a little bit of you can’t have it every way.”

Fees are due this coming Monday, and although Team Durham claim to know nothing of the boycott, it seems revolt is inevitable.

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