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Ski Club of Great Britain Chief Exec resigns

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The Lev wrote:
I think the issue is that ILG costs the Club (not sure how much in total), where as Reps are "free". How much would subs need to go up to fund ILG across Europe?


Costs the same. The Repping budget is just reallocated to ILG.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Doesn't the challenge lie in providing something to a Member that thy can't get as a non-Member? From what I read, everything that does this costs the Club money; requires employed SCGB personnel; competes with local services; can be provided by Internet alternatives; and carries legal liabilities/risks. If I want to find other people with whom to ski at my level and on the terrain I favour, why wouldn't I use a free site like Snowheads or similar, or a social group service like Facebook or whatever? If I want to join an instructor-led group, I can just walk into any one of many ski schools in a resort and. If I'm skiing an unfamiliar area and want a bit of help orienting myself, I can hire someone local for a day or two. If I want insurance I can go to a comparison website, or an existing specialist forum. And so on.

The USP for the Club was that in many resorts, they had a local representative who could provide anything from a few tips while looking at the piste map through to orientation outings to small group leading. For people on their annual fixed ski holiday, this was a very efficient way to maximise their time (and expenditure), using a trusted and reliable service. It was well worth the the membership fee. Whatever you think of the morality of it, it looks like the French at least have effectively criminalised much of this, so what is the Club's USP now, particularly in the Age of the Internet?

My expertise is in IT, as you may have inferred from my comments about over-zealous web builders and small businesses. One suggestion I would have is that one bad experience with such an internet company shouldn't necessarily lead you to discount this completely as part of your future offering. "We're not doing that again!" would be an understandable reaction but it may be that there is a useful role for a different Web presence, and one where a relatively small investment would make a disproportionate contribution. For example, where SCGB Membership gets you to the group recording level of a ski tracking app. that usually needs a subscription. Or where the site lands you in a ski-specific insurance comparison service. The thing to remember, and be concerned about, is that SCGB's competitors in the market will also be looking at the same potential opportunities to extend their services too.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Leading/guiding surely not that difficult to fix.

Start with some effective social media so people know who will be where on which dates. Make an arrangement with a venue to host a physical meet-up in resort where members could arrange to ski together (without a leader). Book a local (qualified) guide for a certain number of days a week to lead members (who have signed up via the effective social media). No reps/leaders in resort will save money. Use that saving to subsidise the guides. Make the membership fee a bit lower and make a small charge for the guiding service.
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The way I see it is that the ski club was born in a pre-internet era. It's USB was pre-internet. Consequently, it will struggle to compete with the challenges facing it (as are all businesses with a service based on pre-internet era) New businesses born in the internet era will take away business, from the younger generation which is where the future lies.

Making old businesses change is difficult, as there are too many vested interests. People with salaries, and people employing people. In my experience of business failures requiring change, the biggest obstacle are those lifers with vested interests in obstructing change. It can therefore be too difficult to convert an old business requiring change, and letting it fail and be reborn is often more efficient in the long term.

Coming from an insurance background, with knowledge of where value is in groups like ski clubs, approaching large insurers as an affiliate group insurance offering is likely to enable insurance discounts, changes to terms and conditions, and bending over backwards in order to achieve volume sales. Group business sales is different from affiliate group business, however both have volume and scale which makes efficiency savings in terms of marketing and sales. (reduced commissions for example often which are passed on to the club or members)

In simple terms if you have a large group of people affiliated together, and you approach an insurer with what you want in terms of terms and conditions they will provide it if they are able and flexible enough. So the ski club offering is exactly this, something which could be offered by another group not specifically tied into membership of a club. (affiliate insurance is optional) Compulsory insurance on joining the club, makes it easier for the insurer, and cheaper overall to administer. However, it is not essential.

If you approach insurers and none are flexible enough, go direct to re-insurers or Lloyds market and by pass the middle men. Or DIY and reinsure the large risks.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Jehu wrote:
The Lev wrote:
I think the issue is that ILG costs the Club (not sure how much in total), where as Reps are "free". How much would subs need to go up to fund ILG across Europe?


I think ILG is well worthwhile but it should not be subsidised. Freshtracks holidays are not subsidised. Members who use ILG should be charged enough to cover the costs.

What would the "membership benefit" be if it wasn't subsidised? You can already do what you're suggesting by contacting a local ski school in many resorts.
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pisteoff wrote:
Can you explain more? davidof?
Quote:

The French ski clubs will pay you to do the training courses (about 15 days for the FFME course).


Yes, if you commit to lead a certain number of club trips the club will pay for your training rather than the SCGB model where you pay for your training then get benefits in kind as a reward.

Looking back to what I said in the past on snowheads I was really surprised the SCGB leading got shut down given it seemed to have approval from the local resorts. Maybe it would have continued without the TO leading services putting it under the spotlight? After all there was only one rep per resort. I didn't see the remuneration problem (Mark Savoie saw this issue way back) coming although the de facto employment contract (aka leaders contract) would have been another red line as would the ltd.co. aspect even if this is normal for clubs in the UK.

Given the past issues it is hard to see how the SCGB reboots this service in a legal format. The SSUK model doesn't seem to be a great fit.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Approval of the 'local resort' doesn't necessarily mean everyone is happy though.
Our EoSB in Val Thorens is very much approved of by the lift company, the tourist office and various well established local businesses, none of which are the ESF though.
All instructing and guiding is performed by fully qualified, licensed people, some British some French, some from nearby resorts, some local and yet on occasion, we have had instructors threatened and even spat at by ESF staff. Just last season, an instructor was harangued at a lift station by an elderly ESF instructor, accusing him of working illegally. He demanded to see his carte pro, and was shown it, dismissed it and started trying to get the liftie to prevent him, and the child he was teaching, using the lift. The liftie, not being a loony, wasn't bothered. Then the ESF guy started on that he should submit himself for inspection at their office in town.
Our man did contact the ESF office, to complain about the behaviour of this 'rogue individual' but to his surprise, they started telling him to come submit himself for inspection!! Ever the model of calm professionality, he explained that this was not their duty nor his responsibility and that they should stop thinking they were the gendarmes.

I seem to recall the ESF were party to the court cases against the SCGB and Le Ski, non?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@admin, oui!

Some members of the ESF have also had a pop at ILG ski instructors from New Gen, even the French one! One also accused the Italian of being a stagiere, luckily he is fluent in English, Italian and French. To be fair most of the ESF guys know they have the odd idiot or two, just a shame the Management don't act, same with the minority of ESF instructors who take groups with no kit off piste.
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Arguments on the mountain or in queues in french here between easiski and elderly ESF instructors were a joy to behold Laughing
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Bigtipper wrote:
The way I see it is that the ski club was born in a pre-internet era. It's USB was pre-internet. Consequently, it will struggle to compete with the challenges facing it (as are all businesses with a service based on pre-internet era) New businesses born in the internet era will take away business, from the younger generation which is where the future lies.



skiclub.co.uk was the first UK skiing website to go live. The internet started in 1988 not two years ago. There isn't an institutional weakness at work here, it's simply that the people we left in charge did an appalling job over the last 4 years.
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Claude B wrote:
Arguments on the mountain or in queues in french here between easiski and elderly ESF instructors were a joy to behold Laughing


I bet!! Laughing Laughing
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Bigtipper wrote:
The way I see it is that the ski club was born in a pre-internet era. It's USB was pre-internet. .


So that would be RS232 then? wink

Sorry, nerd joke. Smile
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Alastair Pink, nah, Not the 9 o'clock News made that a very popular lead!

How I can remember that I have no idea.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Gerry wrote:
... skiclub.co.uk was the first UK skiing website to go live. The internet started in 1988 not two years ago. ..

From what I remember BIX was the first place I discussed skiing, that was PSS, before the net. Once we had TCP/IP Usenet's rec.skiing.alpine became the central site for most people.

I have a copy of "The Whole Internet Guide" (yes, it was all in one book) from maybe 1992 somewhere, but I don't recall any commercial ski stuff to speak off.

The Wayback Machine has the scgb site back to April 1997. "[the] Ski Club of Great Britain Web site has been nominated for an Award in Yell's 1997 UK Web Awards".
By that time we were probably at around a million people in the UK with some sort of access. Most traffic by volume was porn.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Claude B wrote:
Arguments on the mountain or in queues in french here between easiski and elderly ESF instructors were a joy to behold Laughing


Never happened when I skied with her. But I have no doubt that she could take care of herself fluently and straight to the point! Actually, by and large, she seems to get along with the French locals, including the instructors, I think. Not so?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@achilles, except some of the older ones
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The SCGB’s difficulties with the ESF go back a long way.

In 1991 having been made redundant and due to other personal circumstances I decided to have my gap year at the age of 45. I therefore did the reps course as it was then in December 1991, spent Christmas and New Year in Val d’Isere then was a rep for four weeks in each of La Plagne, Les Arcs and by complete way of contrast, Grindelwald.

I was cautioned by the ski club before going to the two French resorts to be careful in my relationships with the tourist office as there had been problems, particularly in Les Arcs. This was 1991 but I think the problems had been going on for at least a couple of years before. In those days we visited the tourist office every day as we relied on them to fax back our snow reports. (Fax machines, who remembers them?).

As it turned out I had no problems at all with the tourist office staff and managers. If anything I think they were sympathetic to the ski club, as were hoteliers and bar and restaurant owners. The problem was really the ESF who have always had a lot of political power and the tourist offices were caught in the middle. On a personal level I had no difficulties with ESF instructors. No dirty looks or anything aggressive at all. On several occasions on my one day off from ski club duties I booked myself onto ESF off piste guiding groups. Again I had no problems and I was wearing my ski club rep's jacket.

The ESF are equally antagonistic to some of their fellow countrymen. Top Ski in Val d’Isere was founded by the wonderfully named Zimmer brothers, Jean and Pat. They were originally from Alsace hence the Germanic surname. They were founded in 1976 after a long struggle with the ESF and I think they had to go to the French supreme court if not EU courts to finally be allowed to operate. Top Ski are heroes in my book and I think all of us skiers should be grateful for their perseverance as they opened the doors for all the other private ski schools in the French resorts.

So the problems with the ESF have been going on for around thirty years and it was no great surprise to me when matters came to a head.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
sugarmoma666 wrote:
Jehu wrote:
The Lev wrote:
I think the issue is that ILG costs the Club (not sure how much in total), where as Reps are "free". How much would subs need to go up to fund ILG across Europe?


I think ILG is well worthwhile but it should not be subsidised. Freshtracks holidays are not subsidised. Members who use ILG should be charged enough to cover the costs.

What would the "membership benefit" be if it wasn't subsidised? You can already do what you're suggesting by contacting a local ski school in many resorts.


I can see your point. But why should I as a Freshtracks customer be required to join the Club and thereby subsidise ILG customers?
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@Jehu, what makes you think Freshtracks is not subsidised? (Not saying it is, or isn't; just that I haven't seen anything to support either.)
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Don't reps/leaders/shambassadors attend Freshtracks hols? If they aren't paying full retail there is a subsidy there.

The more I think about it the more I think if I was running the show I'd go with a French club model. Don't pay or cover reps expenses at all but train them for free. Of course cashflow might dictate taking a security deposit from prospective reps refundable when they had met their commitment on number of days led. Tough cheddar as a sunk cost on past trainees who are of course welcome to continue activities if they are of the modern standard. And also I'd think way beyond France - Austria and Italy have great skiing and CH too for those with the budget.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Don't reps/leaders/shambassadors attend Freshtracks hols? If they aren't paying full retail there is a subsidy there.


They don't do any on-snow leading so it's irrelevant.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Gerry wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Don't reps/leaders/shambassadors attend Freshtracks hols? If they aren't paying full retail there is a subsidy there.


They don't do any on-snow leading so it's irrelevant.


Hardly - if they are paid for from Freshtracks revenues it's irrelevant, if their costs are covered from the SCGB members funds pot it's not. Which is it?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
The more I think about it the more I think if I was running the show I'd go with a French club model. Don't pay or cover reps expenses at all but train them for free.

UK clubs do this too, I know of people getting funding to go on UKSS courses.

I have paid my own costs when coaching kids from a club. It was my choice to do this though and I only did it for specific weeks if I had a reason to be in the same area as the trainees. I wouldn't bother doing this for a random group of kids unless I was being paid.
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hamilton wrote:
the club comms was sent to the various club lists of emails. e g. anyone who has entered a comp, been a member, not actively unsubscribed, etc.

my personal take from the Chairmans post is that the club are part way through the investigation into the financial issues and the CEO departure is part of that. Hang11 seems particularly astute.

Chairmans prior comms gives some comfort that the future will be better for the club, but I'm not optimistic... time will tell, and we can expect am update in due course.


They were advertising for a new Finance Director earlier this year. I guess that was possibly under the old regime.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Gerry wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Don't reps/leaders/shambassadors attend Freshtracks hols? If they aren't paying full retail there is a subsidy there.


They don't do any on-snow leading so it's irrelevant.


Hardly - if they are paid for from Freshtracks revenues it's irrelevant, if their costs are covered from the SCGB members funds pot it's not. Which is it?


The former.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:


The more I think about it the more I think if I was running the show I'd go with a French club model. Don't pay or cover reps expenses at all but train them for free. Of course cashflow might dictate taking a security deposit from prospective reps refundable when they had met their commitment on number of days led. Tough cheddar as a sunk cost on past trainees who are of course welcome to continue activities if they are of the modern standard. And also I'd think way beyond France - Austria and Italy have great skiing and CH too for those with the budget.


I think that could work, leaders could offer a bit of coaching as well as leading.

I bet they'd get away with paying the rep's travel expenses too. Anyone who qualifies as a coach can work on the inside/out model.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
ecureuil wrote:
@Jehu, what makes you think Freshtracks is not subsidised? (Not saying it is, or isn't; just that I haven't seen anything to support either.)


The annual accounts are on the SCGB website up to 2018. Not sure why 2019 isn't shown. Each year Freshtracks contributed around £200k. Mountain Tracks also made a profit/contribution.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
That assumes the Freshtracks figure is already net of 100% of its staff, premises, marketing, website etc costs. Which it may or may not be.

The Treasurers Report suggests that website costs, at least, come under central/support costs. And they make a point that it is the new website that has led to many Freshtracks bookings now being made online. If say half the website costs should be allocated to Freshtracks it would look a bit different.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@ecureuil, I think the website costs were written off last year which lead to a lot of the issues at the AGM. So, no need to further charge them against FT bookings if you were trying to assess FT profitability
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
It's many years since I studied accountancy but I remember that there are many ways of making an activity look more (or less) profitable in presenting accounts. Let's hope that the current investigations make things clear.
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@ecureuil, I think that’s a bit bogus. There was no practicable improvement in booking FT holidays in moving from the old to new website. Compare it to Snoworks website which offers a similar package and I understood was put together for an awful lot less than £450k

If there was an uptake in % of booking via the website I suspect it was just reflective of people’s changing habits generally
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
FrediKanoute wrote:
They were advertising for a new Finance Director earlier this year. I guess that was possibly under the old regime.

That was to replace Ian Holt because Council at the time thought it would be a fabulous idea to replace the old CEO with the Finance guy under whose guidance the Club had a million pound loss. Embarassed
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Um... Ian Holt was the Treasurer, not the Finance Director. There’s a difference, which is that the Treasurer is an elected club position, while the Finance Director is an employee, in a company position.
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ousekjarr wrote:
Um... Ian Holt was the Treasurer, not the Finance Director. There’s a difference, which is that the Treasurer is an elected club position, while the Finance Director is an employee, in a company position.

You are correct - the volunteer board member charged with overseeing the Club's finances during the financial debacle was chosen as (paid) CEO. Sorry if my post was interpreted to mean that Ian Holt was previously in a paid role.
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Like so many others I decided not to renew my membership when the ski leading service ended. The supine way in which we all accepted the high handed tactics of ESF and others was to the detriment of us all. The buying power of the British skiers in France should have been more effectively marshalled into a serious campaign, if necessary by not going there for a season or two. Little wonder the SCGB is imploding. They should have been leading the campaign, and in doing so might just have demonstrated their relevance in a changing world.
Very sad.
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bailidh wrote:
Like so many others I decided not to renew my membership when the ski leading service ended. The supine way in which we all accepted the high handed tactics of ESF and others was to the detriment of us all. The buying power of the British skiers in France should have been more effectively marshalled into a serious campaign, if necessary by not going there for a season or two. Little wonder the SCGB is imploding. They should have been leading the campaign, and in doing so might just have demonstrated their relevance in a changing world.
Very sad.

Excellent point. A shift of 10% of UK ski bookings to other destinations would have driven the point home.

(And replacement of Freshtracks France destinations with ones to other destinations might have brought some long term providers onside).
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Reality check - there were 1.7 million ski trips by UK skiers in 2019. There are about 20000 members in the SCGB if the reported figures are accurate.

To constitute 10% of the UK bookings, every SCGB member would have to take 8.5 trips per year, and that assumes all of them still ski, which given the membership demographic seems highly unlikely.

How many person days were there of rep-led or ILG-led skiing per year for the last ten years? 1000, 5000, 10000 or more? I suspect it is definitely on the low end of this - 20 resorts, 5 days per week, 10-12 weeks in the season, up to 10 people per day makes it a max of maybe 12000 days if every day was full. Which it won’t be - the number could easily be less than 5000.

In short, the SCGB is mainly an irrelevance to the resort, region or country, but a highly visible irritant to the ESF.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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bailidh wrote:
... The supine way in which we all accepted the high handed tactics of ESF and others was to the detriment of us all. The buying power of the British skiers in France should have been more effectively marshalled into a serious campaign, if necessary by not going there for a season or two. ...
Wow. The scgb doesn't control "British skiers" and they've no real significance in the market.
If anyone's in any doubt about which way this is going, that sort of thinking makes it crystal clear.
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ousekjarr wrote:
Reality check - there were 1.7 million ski trips by UK skiers in 2019. There are about 20000 members in the SCGB if the reported figures are accurate.

To constitute 10% of the UK bookings, every SCGB member would have to take 8.5 trips per year, and that assumes all of them still ski, which given the membership demographic seems highly unlikely.

How many person days were there of rep-led or ILG-led skiing per year for the last ten years? 1000, 5000, 10000 or more? I suspect it is definitely on the low end of this - 20 resorts, 5 days per week, 10-12 weeks in the season, up to 10 people per day makes it a max of maybe 12000 days if every day was full. Which it won’t be - the number could easily be less than 5000.

In short, the SCGB is mainly an irrelevance to the resort, region or country, but a highly visible irritant to the ESF.


Head meet nail
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bailidh wrote:
Like so many others I decided not to renew my membership when the ski leading service ended. The supine way in which we all accepted the high handed tactics of ESF and others was to the detriment of us all. The buying power of the British skiers in France should have been more effectively marshalled into a serious campaign, if necessary by not going there for a season or two. Little wonder the SCGB is imploding. They should have been leading the campaign, and in doing so might just have demonstrated their relevance in a changing world.
Very sad.


You need some facts.

It was one individual from the ESF who complained to the French Ministry of Sport (6k employees against UK equivalent with less than 1k). This organ of the French State then told the ESF they had join the prosecution whether they wanted to or not. Apparently they didn’t particularly want to.
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