Polo Times Magazine Subscribe to Polo Times Home
HomeNewsTournamentsClassifiedsAbout usSubscribeContact

Fri 15th Nov 2019

HPA’s Vision for Polo

The HPA responds to Polo Times September issue article

Yesterday, 14 November 2019, The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) issued a statement in response to the Polo Times, Handicaps – The Ultimate Conundrum article, published in our September 2019 issue. We are delighted to have received a public response from the HPA which you can find below. Our article, which also saw the re-publishing of Mark Tomlinson’s 2014 piece The HPA… “57 Old Farts?”, addressed some key concerns raised about the current HPA format and its plans for the future of our sport and brought to the fore, a number of topics perennially up for debate. 
As the foremost British polo publication, Polo Times keeps abreast of polo news, at all times endeavouring to express a balanced view of all goings on. To be in the conversation, make sure you subscribe here now and have your say by contacting us. You could even be in with a chance of winning of a bottle of delicious British Polo Gin for your efforts. 
We look forward to hearing from you.
To read the Handicaps – The Ultimate Conundrum article, please click here now.
The HPA’s response is as follows:
The HPA’s vision for polo in the UK

Changing the game for the better

There has been much coverage in certain media outlets recently concerning the issues that face polo. Within this coverage was a considerable amount of criticism directed at the HPA.  Constructive criticism is always welcomed, as are ideas to improve the sport.  These must however be balanced with the statistics.

When compared with mainstream sports, including other equestrian disciplines, polo is a highly skilled yet niche sport with (comparatively) very few participants. This presents tremendous challenges, as few participants correlates to few spectators which correlates to fewer sponsorship opportunities. It also creates a difficult environment for professional players to make a living within the game – not helped by its seasonality.

Under the incoming new chairman Nick Wiles, an extensive consultation took place with HPA members, resulting in the creation of the polo vision document.
Key areas of concern were highlighted:

The importance of grass roots development
The development and education of young players
The raising of the standards of conduct, behaviour, discipline and animal welfare
The importance of a coherent commercial strategy to bring much needed funding and sponsorship into the game
The need to modernise the overall governance structure of the HPA as the governing body.
Handicapping and tournament conditions
This will be an extensive ongoing programme and changes will naturally take time to both implement and take effect.

A republished article written by Mark Tomlinson raised the following points, to which the HPA has added some context. Mark himself concedes that the situation has changed between 2014 (when the original article was published) and now and is fully supportive of the vision document.
Nonetheless, it is useful to highlight some key differences between rugby and polo.

Comparisons between rugby and polo.

Current RFU membership is over 2,500,000 and comprises over 2,000 clubs.
HPA membership is in a different league, approximately 2,500 and 70 clubs.
The RFU generated over £170m in annual income, had over 600 paid staff and the board alone were paid in excess £1.5m.

HPA income is £1,811,600 with total staff costs of £309,000 (incl pensions). All board and committee members are voluntary (unpaid) and do not get expenses.

The top International at Twickenham last year was watched by over 9m viewers and a full stadium of 82,000.
The Coronation Cup had a crowd of circa 5,000 and about 7,000 additional viewers online.

The HPA’s blueprint is similar to that of the RFU, with money invested to support polo, including the development of players at all levels, supporting the England teams, improving welfare in the game and the standard of umpiring.

The article made further points:

An HPA owned polo complex (such as rugby’s Twickenham)
Whilst an excellent idea in theory, the current economic reality makes this impossible.  This plan would require very significant initial investment (several £million) and considerable ongoing cost in maintenance.

Polo in the Olympics.
This lies predominantly with the FIP who have worked hard to get polo into the various games around the world as a prelude to being considered as an Olympic sport. Being an Olympic sport opens up the opportunities for funding, but the pressure within the IOC has been to reduce the equestrian sports to make room for endurance, racing and eventing has already had team numbers cut down to three.  There is a view that snow polo (or a format like Polo in the Park) stand the best chance of getting into the Olympics. Realistically, the chances are slim.  That said, closer alliance with the FEI and UK Sport would be positive.

This is always the biggest and most contentious topic. In focusing on handicapping and tournament conditions the HPA is trying to make the game fairer for all players, and remove the off-field advantage of those who play the system to the detriment and enjoyment of others.
The HPA has been clear to clubs and members in its guidance on these two important elements of the game over the course of this season.
Of particular contention were U18 overseas players. These players entering with a European passport have a legal right to play under EU law; those without come to the UK on a visa. The latter are subject to strict conditions concerning working and playing sport (laid down on the Government’s web site).  Any misunderstanding of the conditions can have serious implications for the individual, any employer and the HPA as the governing body. Consequently, the HPA intends to continue to include the Government’s pertinent conditions in the rules and hopes to publish these alongside the overall visa criteria for the 2020 season in the near future.

The HPA is seeking to work for the many, not just the few, and to improve the sport for everyone involved. The purpose of the vision document was to establish a clearer direction for the sport over the next five years, to recognise the challenges faced and to put forward ideas and plans to respond to said challenges.

Yours sincerely,

The Stewards of the Hurlingham Polo Association

Follow Polotimes on Twitter

Other top stories

Wed 26th Feb 2020
Frasers England Women’s Team Announcement
English ladies to play in the inaugural Copa De Las Naciones

Tue 25th Feb 2020
The King Power International Ladies' Polo Tournament 2020
Action begins today

Mon 24th Feb 2020
Las Monjitas Win C.V. Whitney Cup
Narrow win for iconic team

Sun 23rd Feb 2020
Polo Times Out Soon!
March issue of Polo Times

Sat 22nd Feb 2020
2020 Women’s US Open
Draw announced for tournament

Fri 21st Feb 2020
Frasers England Australian International Teams Announced
HPA announces Men’s and Women’s teams

Fri 21st Feb 2020
Gauntlet of Polo USPA Gold Cup
Teams drawn at 2020 launch party

Thu 20th Feb 2020
C.V. Whitney Cup Final
La Indiana and Las Monjitas to compete for honours

Wed 19th Feb 2020
Home Office Visa News
Home Office announce proposed points-based immigration system

Wed 19th Feb 2020
The Junior Arena Gold & Silver Cups
New youth tournament to take place at RCBPC

Tue 18th Feb 2020
C.V. Whitney Cup Update
La Indiana, Pilot & Las Monjitas qualify for Semi Finals

Mon 17th Feb 2020
All-Star Challenge Final
Valiente crowned as champions

Sun 16th Feb 2020
The Ladies Polo Foundation Scholarship
Annie Woodhead to visit South Africa

Sat 15th Feb 2020
USPA Outdoor Rules Changes
Alterations to USPA outdoor rules

Fri 14th Feb 2020
2020 Three Match International Polo Test Series

Fri 14th Feb 2020
Frasers England to Play Australia
Polo International Down Under

Thu 13th Feb 2020
The New Zealand International
Home team triumphs

Wed 12th Feb 2020
Ghantoot Secure Dubai Silver Cup
Half goal secures Ghantoot success

Tue 11th Feb 2020
Sue Cudmore Memorial
Memorial to be held in Gloucestershire

Mon 10th Feb 2020
SUPA University Winter Nationals
Rugby Polo Club welcomes 202 teams

Wed 5th Feb 2020
World Polo League Announces Schedule
Play commences tomorrow

Tue 4th Feb 2020
La Familia Retain B. Grimm Thai Polo Masters Title
News from South-East Asia

Tue 4th Feb 2020
Patagones Champion Ylvisaker Title
Sun shines in Palm Beach

Mon 3rd Feb 2020
Farrington Secure Extra Time RCBPC Win
The HPA Winter Victor Ludorum Final

See all news in:

End of Polo Times news page

Advertiser information Contact us Subscribe Work for us All information is subject to copyright 2015


Latest Classified

Latest Classified

 Get into Polo

Get started in polo

Information on how to get started in polo
 Destination of the Month

The global game

Holidays and breaks playing or following polo around the world

Online magazine

Login to read current and back issues of the magazine
 Find your nearest club

Club contacts

Find your nearest polo club
Cookies in Use