FUTURE OF TT365 - RESPONSE BY TABLE TENNIS ENGLAND
Thank you for your positive feedback on our letter last week.
We would like to take this opportunity to give you the latest information regarding the development of the new Table Tennis England league and fixtures management platform.
We are developing the platform to create a more affordable and sustainable product which is owned by Table Tennis England rather than an external supplier. This ensures it will always be available to our affiliated leagues at no additional cost to them and we can continually adapt it to meet the needs of the table tennis community now and in the future.
We are using the initial name of TT Leagues, although the official name for the platform has yet to be decided.
Our partners Rocca Creative have been working alongside a small group of league administrators to ensure the platform is table tennis-ready and they have released a short video to show development of the platform so far, including a first look at how easy it is to set up a league. You can see this video on our website.
Also on our website is a list of the functions which will be available on TT Leagues, both at the launch date and during Phase 2 development which will follow immediately. You can also see a timeline of how the project will move forward, plus the answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
All of this can be found on this page on our website. We would encourage you to share this link with club-mates, those who play in leagues, and other interested parties.
More than 80 leagues have so far signed up to test the platform – if you would like to get involved, please email Joanna.email@example.com
We will continue to keep you informed over the next few weeks, on our website and through our newsletters and social media platforms.
If you have any questions about TT Leagues, please contact Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandra Deaton / Sarah Sutcliffe
Dear Colleagues, 10 April 2019
We are writing to give you some more information regarding the background to the recent developments with TT365. It is important to us that you have all the facts as you debate within your leagues and counties the issues before you.
In June 2016 Table Tennis England and TT365 entered into a three-year contract that expanded their previous relationship. Prior to that, for a fixed annual fee and development costs, TT365 provided the membership system, rankings data and had developed a tournament entry system for Grand Prix competition. At the same time TT365 continued to develop and roll out its League Manager platform. This was undoubtedly a positive step for the sport and as the Governing Body we wanted to encourage leagues to embrace the use of technology. Not only would it modernise league administration but it would provide useful data regarding playing habits, which we could help leagues understand. It became apparent that if Table Tennis England could provide funding for TT365 League Manager that would represent a direct tangible membership benefit for numerous player members. So, at the AGM in 2016 part of the rationale to support an increase in membership fees was that 10% of relevant membership fees would be paid to TT365 so that League Manger was delivered free of further charges to the leagues wishing to use it.
In 2018 we decided to go out to tender for the membership/CRM system. This was a business decision to ensure we were using a system that was both ‘best of breed’ and competitively priced. The tenders were assessed in a transparent manner by a panel including an independent director and an independent consultant. The contract was awarded to Sport:80 for the 2019/20 season onwards. Both in its tender and shortly afterwards TT365 confirmed that it wanted to enter into negotiations about a continued contract for League Manager and the British League site. We agreed.
However, by January 2019 negotiations had not started and the reasons given by TT365 as to why not were not clear. The Board instructed the staff to consider alternative options.
A while ago Table Tennis England had identified that in the future, we would like to develop our own league and fixture platform, an asset we could own and control for the benefit of our members, but it was not an immediate priority. In an ideal world we would introduce such a platform as an alternative choice for leagues. However, once it became apparent that TT365 was in no rush to enter into a new contract we started researching alternatives. In February, Sport:80 introduced us to their strategic partner, Rocca Creative, who specialise in league and tournament platforms.
Finally, with a deadline of the March Board meeting looming, we received the proposal from TT365 that costed the League Manager system at £7 per player, British League at £15,000 and additional services such as data and advertising at another £20,000. This represented an almost five times increase on the existing fee. Clearly, this was not affordable, after much consideration we put an alternative proposal on the table that would provide a fixed fee (so not reliant on the number of users) that was close to double the existing fee. At the same time, we announced that Table Tennis England would be developing its own league and fixture platform, one that it would own, but that it would still like to support TT365 as an alternative system. This was not because we didn’t think our system would be ready, but it was to provide genuine choice for the leagues and members. It was not our intention or decision for commercial negotiations to take place through public domains, however TT365 decided to place all this information on its forums and encourage public sharing.
Some people have commented that four months is a short time to get a new system up and running. We don’t disagree but Rocca Creative have an existing product that needed further development but timeframes were achievable so we are working very hard along with Rocca Creative to do just that in response to the situation we found ourselves in back in January/February. The risk we had always identified of having all our eggs in one basket with one supplier was coming true and we needed to regain control of the service we provide our members.
However, we are not starting from square one: The SportPAD platform has been used by numerous universities for a few years to manage all their intramural sports fixtures. With some bespoke changes it will be fit for purpose as a table tennis league and fixture management system. Three current league administrators have helped with the scope and over 60 leagues have come forward offering to be involved in the testing phase. We are genuinely overwhelmed by that positive response and will work hard to ensure that everyone who wants to be involved can be. We will focus on getting the core essential functionality right first and some of the other ‘nice to have’ features will come in phase 2. We will keep you fully informed. Leagues have a choice facing them. TT365 has put a proposal to leagues to buy the League Manager system directly. As we said, in an ideal world, we would have funded TT365 so that that choice existed. But not at any cost. We have a duty to members to ensure best value for their money. The development of the SportPAD system, which Table Tennis England will then own, is comparable to one year’s existing TT365 fee.
Linked with this is the proposition to reduce membership fees to £9 for an adult player member. This is on the basis that Leagues can then spend the £7 saved by each member to contract League Manager directly from TT365. This rationale is flawed. Membership revenue is needed to fund, subsidise or support several aspects of the association’s work including customer services, ranking administration, elite performance, AGM, Annual Conference and National Council, the Members’ Advisory Group, National Championships and other national competitions, youth products such as TT Kidz, marketing such as broadcast and website services and much more.
We will be sending you more information on this as you face a decision on whether to back that proposition or not. We urge you to think of the bigger picture and consider the wider work of the Governing Body to provide a safe and growing sport, not just this issue of TT365 League Manager when making your decisions.
The Board has decided to propose no increase in the affiliation fees this coming season, keeping it at £16 (adult) and £8 (junior). Part of the rationale will be because the membership and league systems will in fact be less costly.
Finally, Chris Dangerfield has publicly stated that he believes that this whole situation has come about because he has sought to challenge the current administration politically. That is not true. The decisions have been made on a business basis. The conflict that Chris Dangerfield has between his commercial and political hats has in fact made it more difficult to take these business decisions, as is shown by the debate we are now having.
We will be sending you more information in the coming weeks as you face these debates and decisions. We are happy to talk to anyone and we have offered to personally attend league and county AGMs.
With our best wishes,
Sandra Deaton Sara Sutcliffe
Chairman and Chief Executive
FUTURE OF TT365 - PROPOSAL BY TT365 FOR CONSIDERATION
We have been supporting grass roots Table Tennis since 2009
We maintain over 300 websites for Leagues, Clubs & Counties
For many members TT365 has been seen as a progressive step-forward simplifying administration and improving player experience
A portion of your Table Tennis England (TTE) affiliation fee has always been used to support TT365, via licencing agreements, ad hoc development or direct support for League Manager.
We are a business that has running costs like any other, running TT365 requires a 6 figure income each year
As a result of the TTE decision to move membership provision to another provider our income will take a significant drop next season.
We cannot survive on income from advertising alone and we have been unsuccessful in agreeing terms with TTE to provide League Manager (LM) as a benefit of TTE membership.
TTE declared their intention to try to replace LM by 1st August this year.
If our bid for survival is unsuccessful we require a minimum period of 10 weeks to wind-up the company.
Our staff deserve to be treated with respect and given proper notice.
We will need time to handle the hundreds of requests for historical data and support.
We have contractual obligations to hosting companies and other IT providers which must be correctly closed down. Some have 60 day minimum notice periods.
3 year League Manager agreement.
We will implement our own individual membership scheme at £7 per Senior player and £4 for Juniors. Pay once, play as many leagues as desired.
Players subscribe via league or online.
Organisations will ensure every player is a paid basic (£7/£4) player member.
Associate members (those that do not play competitively) will be free.
Maximum annual increase in basic player subscription of 3%.
We require a minimum of 15,000 members to make this proposal viable.
Tried and tested solution that you know and can rely on.
Zero risk to your organisation or our sport.
Zero training required before 1st August 2019 and no loss of data.
Many new heavily requested features planned in the future.
Continuation and expansion of the National Ranking system.
Email Manager Pro, provided free as part of the agreement.
Use TT365 regardless of TTE affiliation.
£7 is a reasonable amount to ask each player to pay given the amount of additional voluntary work that will be required without TT365.
A proposition put forward by several leagues is going to the TTE AGM this June to reduce affiliation fees by £7. If all leagues that support TT365 support this position it will pass with considerable margin and offset the new TT365 subscription.
It’s clear what players get for the £7.
£7 is less than the cost of 3 TT balls from several well-known brands.
TT365 has had a decade of continual development to-date.
The commercial cost of developing TT365 over the last decade was over 2 million pounds. This is not a joke.
We have spent over £100,000 on web hosting to-date.
There are over 300,000 lines of code that make up TT365.
Over 45,000 hours of time invested.
Supported over 1000 admin users.
Still think TTE can do it in 4 months?
Without TT365 will your current league administrators return to a manual system or risk the unknown with an un-tested system from TTE?
If (and we stress if) TTE do provide some alternative system, you will have very little time to learn it.
TT365 has matured over a decade, no new solution could support every feature or rule your league currently uses. Significant loss of functionality has to be expected.
Expect increased TTE membership fees in the future to pay for new system development and support.
We request you provide your response to this proposal by 17th May 2019.
On the 20th May 2019 we will announce the future of TT365.
On 31st July 2019 our current agreement with TTE expires, if this proposal is unsuccessful TT365 servers will be shut down at 10am on 1st August 2019.
It is suggested you hold an EGM in order to get member agreement to this proposal, if your AGM is after the deadline.
TT365 is generally seen as a key strategic resource for our sport and it should be protected.
Act now to save TT365. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
We ask for your response to this proposal by 17th May 2019, preferably earlier, to help us make the relevant decisions.
Respond by logging into the admin area and completing the simple form for your league.
You must be authorised by your league to complete the form.
Chris Dangerfield (TT365)