Finally three months after it was due to be held Football West will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Thursday evening. An event that anyone can attend as an observer.
There are plenty of questions that need to be asked at the meeting which will sign off on 2016, and at which the Financial Report will be presented. The Financial year closed at the end of October and the organisation has opted to take the full five months to present it to its Members, even though it had to be presented to the FFA, according to the constitution, “no later than 3 months after the end of the Company’s financial year.”
This year the AGM will be preceded by a General Meeting, to see if the Members will pass a motion to change the current constitution, and allow current Chair Liam Twigger to remain in the role for another four years.
Before the vote on this matter is carried out, it is hoped that the Members ask some key questions. First of all who made up the Nominations Committee to assess those who applied to be elected onto the board? Secondly, they need to ask how a General Meeting can be called when Mr Twigger’s application to stand for another term as Chair at the time the Nominations Committee met made him ineligible to stand? In fact he is ineligible until the outcome of the General Meeting. It is important that the footballing public be advised as to how the Nominations Committee reached a decision to deem his application legitimate before a General Meeting has been held. Why was Mr Twigger afforded such a privilege, when some who nominated were not even advised as to why they were deemed unsuitable, even though they hold senior management positions in large companies?
It is hard to speculate the outcome of the General Meeting as there is by all accounts a lot of Politicking going on in the background to try and raise the required numbers for Mr Twigger to remain. What is disappointing is that the Chairman has not spoken publicly, or put out a statement explaining why he should be afforded the unique privilege of being given an unprecedented third term on the board.
When the AGM itself gets underway straight after the General Meeting there will be new candidates standing for the three elected positions on the Board; the three appointed Board Members must also step down as they have all served more than two year terms now.Hopefully this will happen.
Before the members vote on the new candidates there are some key questions that need to be asked by all involved with the game. Questions clearly necessary when one member posted on social media that they would hear the cases put forward by the candidates and vote for who they thought would be best for the game.
If the system was working properly the Standing Committee Chairs – with the exception of the NPL Standing Committee who are not listed in the Constitution, so have no vote – should have been advised as to who are the candidates that are up for election and who nominated them. They should have either met with them, or at least had a small one page profile on all given to them. These representatives of the majority should then have sat with those that they represent and been advised as to whom they are to vote for. Or, if they feel that none of the candidates are acceptable, reject them. There is no obligation to elect the candidates put forward. All can be rejected, and a call for new candidates can be put out there.
The Zone reps should have done the same, contacted all the clubs that they represent in their Zone and accumulated feedback from those who have entrusted them with their vote, and come the meeting should vote according to their wishes, not the own personal wishes.
How many clubs have heard from their Zone Reps in the past three weeks and been asked their opinion on this? It is expected that the Standing Committees have all held meetings to decide their positions.
When the AGM does in fact start one key question that needs to be asked is why for two years running the AGM has not been held within the calendar year as required under the Corporations Act? Check before attending the meeting to counter the excuse that will undoubtedly be tabled that Football West can wait until they present their financial report to hold ether AGM. (NTFS has spoken to three lawyers as well as ASIC on two occasions and all have said that it should have been held in 2016). This has happened two years in a row. Maybe it should be decided at this AGM, by the Members a date on which the 2017 AGM will be held in 2017?
The Financial report can be presented at a later meeting, as long as it is not more than five months after the end of the Financial reporting period. A Call to ASIC or a read of the Corporations Act will bring Members up to speed on the legal situation.
While the AGM is very much about looking back at the year that has passed, this AGM needs to be very much about the future. The past year has seen the game embroiled in events that are not wanted, and as creditable as the NPL review process that is about to get under way is, it has taken too long. Many will say that this process should have been carried out prior to the competition starting, and they would be right. Let us not forget that many of the outgoing board members, and the former CEO thought otherwise under direction from the FFA. Which raises the question are the Board there to serve the game in Western Australia or to be at the beck and call of the FFA? Another pertinent question, and what perks do they receive from the FFA when Socceroos games are held in Perth and have these been declared?
The current lack of faith in Football West can be fixed with strong leadership. So far James Curtis, the current CEO who was appointed in May 2016 has been in the role since July last year, but he has done little to convince people he is the man to carry the game forward in those eight months. His public profile is non-existent. So if he is not going to lead, then the Board needs a new Chairman to carry the game forward and right some of the many wrongs. Re-appointing the same Chairman is not going to assist in the day-to-day administration of the game. It may help a push for a State Football Centre and an A-League licence, but are these really priorities for the game as a whole this point in time?
Moving forward one of the first things that Football West needs to do or appoint an independent person to do is monitor the Zone Reps that have been appointed, and ensure that all are communicating with the clubs that they represent, and a record of that communication is being kept. They need to ensure that every Standing Committee meeting is minuted, and that those in attendance communicate the outcomes of those meetings to the players, coaches and supporters of their clubs. There should be at least two meetings a year of all the Standing committees to see if they are fighting for similar issues and then they can unite and advise the game’s administrators of their wishes. After all the Crawford report advocated that the Standing Committees were the ones who would influence the direction the game went in, State Bodies were simply the administrators of those wishes.
At the AGM, the question should be asked, especially if Mr Twigger’s bid is successful, is whether other changes will be made to the constitution to include the NPL Standing Committee and therefore give them a vote? Can the wording be changed to be less ambiguous so that there is no longer debate as to the meaning of certain clauses, that they become clear cut?
A Marketing plan for the NPL should be demanded. As well as a break down on where the sponsorship dollars that come into the organisation are being spent. Football West promotes FFA sponsors but how many of those give money to the game here in Western Australia? If they are not supporting the game here, why should they benefit from such exposure? If there are sponsorship dollars coming in where are they being spent? Money needs to be spent on lowering the cost of a juniors playing the game, and the game needs to be promoted properly. Dwindling crowds are testament that posts on Facebook and Twitter are not working in bringing in fans.
The NPL Review Workshops are a start, but do they go far enough? Does the game in Western Australia need a total review?
Never have the votes of the Standing Committee Chairs and the Zone Reps been more important. They hold the future of the game in their hands. Remember who these people are and if they vote to accept the status quo then hold them accountable if they have not followed the wishes of the they represent, game continues down the same path. Like politicians if you are not happy do not vote them back in, and do not accept Football West placing people they feel would be ideal into these positions. That should never be acceptable, as one never knows why they appointed that individual.
Let us hope that those entrusted with taking the game forward see where it is placed at the current time and realise that change has to happen, and accept the responsibility to implement that change.