Proposal: to change the Club Rules so that the Board becomes the General Organising Committee (GOC), overwhelmingly made up of at least one representative of each of the club’s other committees rather than directly elected.
What is the issue?
Although it has at times been difficult to encourage volunteers to come forward and participate, the Club’s semi-autonomous committee structure has been a qualified success in allowing members who do want to volunteer to focus on activities they are interested in, rather than a commitment to take on everything.
This has left the Club Board in the equivocal position where its members are extremely active in other committees and its remaining and most pressing responsibility, other than safeguarding issues, is “ensuring the mutual ownership of the Club operates democratically, fairly and transparently (rule 4.2)”.
In practice, this has meant organising two members' general meetings in 2020 and facilitating and supporting the activities of the Club's committees at a strategic level. The latter, however, has been difficult to sustain because the Club Board has met only three times in the last year. Most communication between committees is instead about immediate issues and concerns and is carried out largely on Telegram, which is far from ideal as a means of conducting more long-term and strategic discussions.
Furthermore, faced with the same hierarchies seen everywhere in society (especially within football), many members have struggled with the idea of a “Club Board” that does not sit at the top of a pyramid of hierarchy and power and is not the most important decision-making body within a club that is trying to organise non-hierarchically.
Why does this matter?
The existing Club Board’s roles are important: as well as the club’s internal democracy and welfare duties, it is also has a responsibility for mediating and settling disputes.
However, if the Club Board’s relevance within our wider structures is unclear after so much work has gone into clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the other committees, then it makes sense to explain them before this becomes a significant problem (such as the Club Board no longer meeting or no longer having enough active members).
This also provides an opportunity to reiterate our support for a more horizontal way of working that does not have power emanating downwards from “the Board” but rather outwards from the membership, with members very clearly the final decision-makers within the Club.
How do we address this?
This proposal suggests the Club Board’s important roles – from members participation and resolving conflicts to safeguarding – require wider and regular input from other committees. As a club, we propose to achieve this in the following way:
- From 1 July 2021, the Club Board becomes the General Organising Committee (GOC), made up of at least one representative of each of the club’s committees. Members of the GOC also become the named directors of the Club.
- From 1 July 2021, Officer positions – currently Treasurer, Secretary and League Representative, but potentially in future other posts – will remain elected directly and Officers also serve as members of an expanded GOC.
- Between the AGM in December 2020 and the start of the 2021-22 season, the existing Club Board will take on the responsibility for implementing these changes. It will undertake a detailed governance review that looks at these and any other recommendations for tightening up and amending the Club Rules and then and bring forward a proposal to a general meeting before the end of June 2021, which will require a two-thirds majority of the vote of the membership to pass.
- The GOC will meet no less than six times a year. Its remit will remain the same as the existing Club Board but with the added responsibility of bringing the committees together to strategically plan how the Club meets its core objects with the active participation of the membership, rather than only facilitating and supporting the committees’ activities. A key element of this is not only settling disputes but trying to anticipate and avoid them.
- The GOC will take on the role of ensuring that safeguarding practice is coordinated more effectively across the club.
- The GOC will also take on the human resources role within the club, acting as the employer for any position (paid or unpaid) that is covered by contractual agreements.
- Every quarter, the GOC will review the current activities of the club, what has worked well, what needs improvement and what is planned for the following three months. It will circulate this review to members and publish it on the club’s website.