Virtual Events and the SA £2 levy

The SA £2 levy

Most of us will enter a race – certainly all the runners I know do. And we are all used to seeing the prices displayed in a format such as £13/£15. Non-Scottish Athletics runners are expected to pay a £2 levy. This is collected on their behalf by the event organiser and paid to SA.

This is a major source of funding for Scottish Athletics, along with other income streams from club affiliation, individual membership and commercial contracts.

With the current COVID19 guidelines meaning race after race is cancelled, Scottish Athletics are not receiving this important revenue stream. There is also a loss of revenue from the clubs. Runners are not renewing their club memberships as they are not getting the regular coaching. This in turn means the club pay less affiliation fees to SA.

I spoke with the chair of Scottish Athletics, Ian Beattie, who confirmed that Scottish Athletics “could lose between £150k and £200k this year through lower club membership and therefore affiliation fees, loss of individual membership fees, loss of license fees from events, and loss of commercial sponsorship because the events are not on.”

Ian Beattie, Chair of Scottish Athletics

Virtual Events

The lack of “actual” events has led to an upsurge in “virtual” events. Many a runner before the lockdown scoffed at the idea of a virtual event. Now they find themselves eagerly searching social media for the next one. Events range from 1mile to 100 miles over a period of days.

TRB have already hosted a few both north and south of the border – we’ve had the Virtual Migo Mile, Virtual Dick Wedlock in Glasgow run on an actual race route. In Preston we’ve had the Old Tram Mile Solo Series, again run on the actual race route. Some would suggest this isn’t strictly a virtual event if you are required to run on a specified route. Indeed, OTM race director Dan, refers to his event as a “Solo” run, to identify it isn’t strictly a virtual event which you can run anywhere in the country, but must be run alone.

SA licensed virtual events

Scottish Atheltics licensed event logo

Our Scottish virtual events have all been licensed with Scottish Athletics. I’ve had some queries why we do this when other organisers don’t.

My reasoning is two-fold. Firstly like an “actual” event, being licensed means we are covered by the UKA public liability insurance. We are listed on the SA event listing and results. Something you would expect from any other SA licensed race.

Secondly, and more importantly in my opinion, it puts a little bit of money back into the governing body. This during a time when their main income stream is missing. It may not be the huge amounts they are losing from the big city events, but if each and every virtual event did the same it would soon add up, and help fill a funding black hole which affects the whole of Scottish Athletics, from the grassroots and upwards.

Fortunately it’s not all doom and gloom for SA – through careful and prudent leadership they have been able to build up some reserves in recent years to cover unforeseen eventualities – and I am sure when they made that plan, they never envisaged a global pandemic!

Ian Beattie added, “it obviously means that money is not available to help develop athletics in Scotland which is our key focus, particularly via the clubs. Any license fees from the virtual events is very welcome, and will make a difference in helping to bridge this gap.


The next TRB virtual event is the Virtual Clydestride 4.0 Miles. Four miles, £5 – or £7 with the £2 levy for non-SA members! Further information can be found here