Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Financially Secure and Ready for Season 2021

Last week RSPBA Chairman John Hughes issued a spirited rallying call to all pipe bands now inactive for the rest of 2020 thanks to the coronavirus epidemic of April and May. Today Chief Executive Ian Embelton re-affirms the Association’s commitment to the 2021 season and talks of the financial security which underpins that commitment.

There is nothing we can do right now except sit tight and wait for the Scottish government to give us the go-ahead to return to normal, although obviously this season has gone. All Headquarters staff are on furlough, myself included, and that lasts until October.

[The UK government has instituted a scheme whereby staff can be laid off during lockdown and receive up to 80% of their wages for the first few months.]

The Association remains in a healthy position financially. We have no debt and our only outlays at the moment are our usual service charges associated with the HQ building in Washington Street. Everything is paid for and up to date and we are looking good to get through the rest of this year.



As John Hughes the Chairman said last week there has been no decision on the World Solo Drumming as yet but we are clearly keeping a weather eye on all developments. We do not want to cancel before necessary and a change of date might be the answer.

Apart from all our band contests being cancelled, we are way behind now with our exam and education programmes. Future classes will be led by guidance from the authorities but perhaps we could begin classes fairly soon, classes that are reduced in size to maintain distancing. Our College staff are having regular meetings over the internet to keep everyone up to speed.

Looking to the winter and 2021, I can assure all bands that we are in a strong position and will be doing everything we can to make sure we come roaring back as soon as we are given the green light. Here are the dates and venues for the 2021 majors:

  • British Championships – 22nd May at Paisley
  • United Kingdom Championships – 12th June at Lurgan
  • European Championships – 26th June at Inverness
  • Scottish Championships – 31st July at Dumbarton
  • World Championships – 13th/14th August at Glasgow


Yes we have lost significant revenue from the cancellation of the 2020 major championships, but we have attracted considerable grant aid and that will keep us afloat no question. We also have the opportunity to borrow cash in the unlikely event that that is needed.

We should hear nothing negative about the Association. We will be here for the bands when this is over. The building refurbishment is paid for, in fact was paid for before we moved in. It is a fine facility and we will have our official opening as soon as possible.

The above extracts are from the publicly available accounts document prepared for the 2020 RSPBA AGM

We are in negotiations with the various championship sponsors about extending their contracts. The Europeans, the UK and the British are due to end in 2021 and they might want to go on another year after losing out this year.

The Board of Directors are working tirelessly in the background, none more so than the Chairman and Vice Chairman. In conclusion I can say that the Association is strong. We have a custom built Headquarters ready for all meetings, classes and functions. The bank balance is healthy and the organisation is all in place to see us through to the start of the 2021 season.

The new RSPBA HQ in Washington Street, Glasgow
  • The Association’s Annual Accounts and Order Paper indicate the total income from all 2019 championships including the World Solo Drumming was £577,307, with the Worlds alone bringing in £254,195. Costs associated with running the Association and the Majors totalled £553,622. (Prizemoney for the year came to £123,763 and judges’ expenses £51,016.) Other income: £66,000 from band subscriptions, £2,036 from band fines and £2,500 from website advertising. Accumulated annual surpluses over the past 20 years have been used to pay for the £900,000 refurbishment of the RSPBA’s HQ. Read more here: RSPBA Chairman Hails Bright New Future for Association
  • The online 2020 RSPBA Annual General Meeting is at 10am on Saturday 27th June. All bands have been contacted with voting information. Voting closes at 10am on Thursday 25th June 2020. Bands need to be able to access the voting system to cast their vote. An account has been set up for this. Login details are on the original email of 4th/5th June. Contact webmaster@rspba.org for help.

1 thought on “Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Financially Secure and Ready for Season 2021

  1. Its great news that the RSPBA is fully prepared for the 2021 season. It would be very useful and highly desirable if the RSPBA can use the current “off season” to review the format of the Grade 1 competitions, most importantly at The Worlds. For example, should there be a qualifying round or an “all bands final”? Should it be a 2 day event? Can the endless repetitions of Lord Alexander Kennedy/Susan MacLeod/Mrs MacPherson et al be avoided? Is the circle the best formation. And there are many more questions/issues that need to be addressed. Now is the time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.