According to the Alaska Public Radio network, a youth sports registration company, Count Me In, has told Fairbanks Youth Soccer and other youth sports groups that they cannot currently pay them registration fees they are owed. Many youth sports leagues use online registration services to not only register their players and help manage the league, but to also collect registration fees from parents via credit cards. The service then pays the league the collected registration fees. Apparently, Count Me In has run into financial difficulty and is strapped for cash, so they can’t pay the leagues the fees they collected. Count Me In responded that they were working with their investors to get leagues the money they are owed, but it might be paid in installments.
If these leagues don’t get the money that is owed to them, or they get it over time, this could have a huge impact on their ability to function. While leagues usually have reserves to help with unexpected expenses, losing most of a season’s registration payments would be a huge hit and might prevent many kids from playing if referees and coaches can’t be paid. Even if a league has reserves, this could significantly reduce money they have saved for fields, equipment, and other purposes.
Here’s hoping that Count Me In can find the funding to pay what they owe, otherwise a number of youth sports associations could be in significant trouble. Amounts of 50 to 150 thousand were mentioned, which is a lot of money for most non-profit sports leagues. If you use an online league management company, do you know what the fine print stipulates in terms of money that is collected on your behalf? How quickly is it paid? How often? What are your rights? Can you pursue payment if they go bankrupt or do your parents have to? It would be horribly inefficient to expect transfers after every payment, but I would expect a league could ask for payment after the collected balance exceeds a certain threshold or every X weeks. This would minimize any losses related to a company’s financial troubles.
I wonder how many leagues used Count Me In and are affected by this…
UPDATE: Turns out a LOT of leagues are affected by this. Two Tampa Bay leagues are together owed close to $150,000! You have to expect that there are many more leagues affected by this and that the total amount owed is in the millions. I personally think it’s criminal for a company to include collected registration fees as any part of their balance sheet, money they KNOW they have to immediately pay back out. Given the amounts they can’t currently pay, they had to know for some time that they were in serious financial trouble and it sounds like (just conjecture here) they tried to ride out tough times using the float of registration fees for operational expenses (vs. actual income), only to end up deeper in the hole and owing clubs millions.