Pandemic leads to major changes to competitions programme

Author:
Paul Stimpson

Publish date:

Due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, Table Tennis England has cancelled a series of national ‘mass’ events scheduled for the spring, including British League weekends, and is working on a new format for the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships.

We can confirm that the following events have been cancelled:

  • National Cadet League (NCL) – all remaining rounds
  • National Junior League (NJL) – all remaining rounds
  • Women’s British League weekend 2 (January 23-24)
  • Veterans’ British League weekend 2 (February 20-21)
  • Junior British League weekend 2 (February 27-28)
  • Wolverhampton Grand Prix (March 20-21)
  • Inter-Regional Championship qualifiers and finals (various dates)
  • Cadet National Cup (March 27-28)
  • National Championships Qualifying Tournament (January 9-10)

The Mark Bates Ltd (Senior) National Championships is still on the calendar but a new format is currently under development and will be confirmed in due course. As a consequence of this, the Qualifying Tournament has been cancelled.

The Cadet & Junior and U10-U13 National Championships, plus the U12 and Junior National Cups, which are all due to be held later in the spring of 2021, remain on the calendar and subject to the decision dates set out in our cancellation and refund policy.

If those events are cancelled, they too will form part of the new format for a ‘Nationals Series’ which will replace all National Championships and National Cups and which will include a single event for each key category, including para.

The remaining scheduled rounds of the Senior British League, and the London and Gloucester Grands Prix, also remain on the calendar at present and subject to the cancellation policy.

Because of these cancellations and changes to the calendar, Table Tennis England has decided to offer refunds to players who purchased Compete Plus membership (formerly Player Licence) for the 2020/21 season in anticipation of competing at these events.

Refunds are offered on the ‘Plus’ portion of their membership fee (£22 for adults and £11 for under-18s), in line with our published cancellation and refund policy. Details of how to claim can be found below.

National events covered by Compete membership, including County Championships, English Leagues Cup Competitions and Regional Championships, are not affected at this stage but remain subject to progress to Stage V of the Ready to Return pathway and the cancellation policy.

Sanctioned events (ie events organised locally or regionally and approved by Table Tennis England) are also not affected at this stage but remain subject to restrictions set out under our Ready to Return guidance and by any local lockdown restrictions which may be applied. Events currently taking place can be seen on the Competition Calendar – this extends only to 1* events at the current time, with scheduled 2*, 3* and 4* events also subject to Stage V of the Ready to Return pathway. Further news on these events will be announced as it is available.

Why are we doing this?

Recent Government announcements indicate that restrictions are unlikely to change for the better over the next few months. This clarity enables greater certainty in medium-term planning.

The national events which have been cancelled are large-scale events which require a lot of planning at club and individual level, as well as by Table Tennis England. Cancelling them now takes away the uncertainty faced by members over matters such as travel and accommodation.

The decision also reflects that it is impossible to deliver these events within current constraints to anything like the normal level, with hundreds of players competing.

The Mark Bates Ltd National Championships series and the National Cups are flagship events for various age groups and we wish to retain them in some form if we can. With restrictions as they are, these events are unlikely to be able to take their normal form. Making this decision now means we can work on plans for alternative formats, while providing as much clarity as possible for players who compete as this level.

Any changes to competition formats will apply only for the 2020/21 season.

Table Tennis England’s Head of Competitions & Events, Neil Rogers, said: “Whilst there are no guarantees regarding the ongoing impact of local lockdowns and further restrictions, we strongly feel a new approach with revised event formats will maximise the opportunity to deliver meaningful activity within the capacity and social-distancing constraints that make our traditional events non-viable in the current climate.

“This will give our leading players the best opportunity to still contest a national title, and for national events to be enjoyed online by the table tennis community during the COVID crisis.”

How to apply for a refund

A refund is not automatic. This is because many of our members have told us they wish to support the sport by paying their Compete Plus membership fee even though coronavirus restrictions may limit or prevent opportunities to play.

The membership fees we receive help fund an incredible amount of important work at grassroots level – work which has continued throughout the pandemic. They also help us unlock other funds. In fact, for every £1 of membership fee income we receive, we invest an additional £2 in Sport England funding supporting grassroots table tennis.

You can find out more about how your affiliation fees benefit you and the sport as a whole by clicking here.

We recognise that, in these times of uncertainty, many members would prefer a refund. Anyone with Compete Plus membership can ask for a refund on the difference between Compete and Compete Plus membership, amounting to £22 for adults and £11 for under-18s.

How you request a refund depends how you paid.

If you paid via a club, league or by cheque payment you will need to download and complete the refund request form.

If you are on auto-renewal or paid by card over the phone, simply click the button below to let us know, filling in your name, TTID number and email address. It should take less than a minute to submit your request. Click here to request a refund to your card

Please note, for the 2020/21 season, players who compete in any revamped National Championships or National Cup, in any Senior British League events or at the London or Gloucester Grand Prix later next spring, will be able to do so with Compete membership and will NOT need to upgrade (or re-upgrade) to Compete Plus. Entry into any 2*, 3* or 4* events which take place will also be permitted with Compete membership.

Any players who wish to compete abroad during the season ending July 31, 2021, WILL need to retain Compete Plus membership in order to retain valid insurance cover. This may include talent pathway players playing in foreign leagues and ITTF events; VETTS players; senior players playing in foreign leagues and ITTF events; and para players playing in foreign leagues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens if I don’t request a refund?

If you do not request a refund, you will remain as a Compete Plus member for the remainder of the season, and your membership fees will help towards supporting our sport.

How do I request a refund?

If you paid via a club, league or by cheque payment you will need to complete the refund request form. If you paid by card or are on auto-renew, simply click on the red button in the section above and fill in a few details and our customer service team will do the rest.

How long will it take to process my refund?

We aim to process all requests within 7 working days but this may take longer depending on how busy our team is – please keep an eye on your email inbox for confirmation.

Why are you not refunding Compete Plus members automatically?

Many of our members have told us they wish to support the sport by paying their fees regardless of the coronavirus restrictions. Therefore, we are asking members to make the choice for themselves and let us know if they wish to receive a refund.

What if I am on auto-renewal?

If you apply for a refund, we will need to cancel your auto renewal in order to process your request. If you wish to continue to auto-renew from the 2021/22 season, you will need to set this up again when you renew.

Will I need to upgrade again to Compete Plus membership if I am able to compete at the London or Gloucester Grand Prix, in any Senior British League events which may take place, or in any revamped National Championships or National Cup?

No, Compete membership will be accepted for these competitions for the 2020/21 season.

Will I need to upgrade again to Compete Plus membership if I am able to compete at sanctioned 2*, 3* or 4* events which may take place?

No, Compete membership will be accepted for these competitions for the 2020/21 season.

What if I play (or am scheduled to play) in an overseas league or competition?

You WILL need to retain Compete Plus membership in order for your insurance cover to remain valid.

I have Compete membership – do I qualify for a refund?

There are no plans to refund Compete members. Local Leagues and 1* events have been able to resume as from 01 September at Stage 4 of the Ready to Return pathway and in line with Ready to Return guidance. Entrants to national events at Stage 5, normally requiring Compete Plus membership, will also be able to do so with Compete membership for the remainder of the season.

Will clubs’ British League fees be refunded?

Due to the uncertainty, we asked British League clubs to pay only 50% of fees for this season up front and committed to a refund if all activity was cancelled. Clubs with entries in WBL, JBL and VBL will be contacted shortly regarding refunds.

Will clubs’ NCL and NJL fees be refunded?

Due to the uncertainty, we committed to a refund if all activity was cancelled. Clubs with paid entries in NCL and NJL will be contacted shortly regarding refunds.

Can I roll my membership into the 2021/22 season?

We are not offering this option, as it is difficult to plan that far in advance under current circumstances.

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