February 09, 2023

UK Championships very much on for June 10th in Lurgan, Northern Ireland

Lurgan Park has been home to many pipe band competitions over many years, including the UK Championships.

In the wake of the revelation that the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s British Championships are likely not to take place as a single event in 2023, rumours swirled that the UK Pipe Band Championships might also be in jeopardy.

We checked with both the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, and both were quick to respond, confirming that the UK Championships in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, are very much on.

“Thank you for your enquiry about the UK Pipe Band Championships,” a spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council said in a matter of minutes after we asked by email. “It will be taking place this year in Lurgan Park on Saturday, 10th June.”

The rumours possibly started because of RSPBANI’s listing some of their 2023 events as tentative, but a representative from the branch said that some events are typically confirmed in March every year.

It is not known if there is a multi-year agreement between Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and the RSPBA, though sources close to the matter said that the existing three-year agreement between the RSPBA and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council expires after this year.

We also checked in with West Dumbartonshire Council about the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, scheduled for July 29th in Dumbarton, Scotland.

A spokesperson for West Dumbartonshire Council promptly responded, saying, “The Scottish Pipe band Championships 2023 will take place in Levengrove Park, Dumbarton, on the 29th July for the 22nd year,” and added “West Dunbartonshire Council have a rolling contract with RSPBA,” presumably meaning that the agreement is re-evaluated and re-negotiated with the RSPBA annually.

At publication time, the RSPBA head office and chair had not responded to email requests for details on agreements with the UK and Scottish, as well as the European and World’s.

The organization promised that it would present its alternative solution to a unified British Championships on February 10th. It is expected that the recommendation will be to stage specific grades of competitions at the small non-championship games around the UK. While not the ideal of a one-day event for all grades, such an approach could serve to inject renewed interest and revenue in small competitions that are generally not well attended by bands.

The RSPBA late in 2022 announced that Aberdeen, Scotland, would host the European Pipe Band Championships on June 24th. The World Pipe Band Championships are scheduled to take place August 18-19, once again at Glasgow Green in Glasgow, marking 38 consecutive years and 40 in total that the event has been held in Scotland’s largest city since 1983. The contest was held in nearby Hamilton, Scotland, in 1985 due to problems with the Bellahouston Park venue in Glasgow.

Before 1983, the World’s changed locations every year since the competition’s formal inception in 1947. Ironically, the decision to begin a designated World Championship was driven mainly because of a desire to change locations every year. Before 1947, the Cowal Championships in Dunoon, Scotland, were considered the de facto World Championship.

Each major championship is organized for and promoted to its members by the RSPBA parent body headquarters directly, regardless of location. For example, the UK Championships, while being held in a Northern Ireland location, are not administered by the Northern Ireland branch.

The RSPBA sells the licensing rights to hold each of their five major championships to bidding regional councils in the UK. The RSPBA organizes and stages the competitions, administering entries and collecting entry fees. The councils in turn are able to sell tickets, vendor stalls, broadcast rights, and other revenue-generating opportunities for the benefit of the local economy.

The RSPBA’s financial records reported in recent normal operation years have indicated that only the World Championships nets a profit for the association. The other four championships appeared to run at a loss.





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