Fishing’s new governing body, the Angling Trust, has revealed it’s in financial crisis this week after failing to attract enough members and spending too much money.
The organisation, which was only launched in January when all the sport’s disparate groups merged, needs to make seven staff redundant and attract at least 3,000 new individual members to stay afloat.
The board of directors has decided to make cuts to the Trust’s overheads to safeguard key member services after only 9,500 individuals and 1,100 clubs joined up and projected income fell way short of expectations.
“These measures are necessary to balance the books,” said Trust chairman Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith.
“It is difficult to conceal the board’s disappointment to the response we have had from anglers. However, we expect to be able to continue at a satisfactory level of service,” said Stephen, formerly chairman of the Anglers’ Conservation Association.
Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd is making fresh appeals for anglers to lend their support by joining up today.
“Anglers need to imagine what the future might look like without a national body to represent their needs and join the Angling Trust,” said Mark.
While the Trust has succeeded in getting its message out to anglers - the EA sent out over half a million membership leaflets with rod licence renewal letters in March - questions are being asked whether it’s the right one. And many remain concerned that the Trust is losing out to the Environment Agency when it comes to anglers’ money and the services it’s looking to provide.
“Anglers in this country desperately need a strong voice. The situation with the Angling Trust is recoverable with good management, but we’re currently paying the price of an attempt to create a new organisation out of bits of failed old ones,” claimed English Carp Heritage Organisation (ECHO) chairman Ruth Lockwood.
“Where’s the inspiration? What’s igniting the imagination of huge numbers of anglers to join? Many of us remain unconvinced the current leadership is capable of engaging with anglers at all.
“I doubt the Trust can even coexist alongside the current structure of the EA fisheries department and the rod licence. Will anglers ever pay another £20 on top of the £26.50 for their licence when both organisations seem to be offering the same services? We need true representation on angling issues.”