Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Alex McFarlane
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Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:33 am

Manager of the British Championships

I am starting this thread because I think there are important issues here which need to be clarified. I don't think existing threads are appropriate.

Firstly the remit of the Manager has to be clearly stated. Quite obviously many decisions taken by the Manager will require Board approval but many will not. Which is which needs to be defined.

In the past the Manager has sought to find venues for future events. The exception to this is Torquay 2013 where the Home Director, with some reference to the co-managers at the time, decided the issue. Andrew Farthing recently claimed that finding a venue is the responsibility of the Home Director. I do not think this is reasonable. The person running the event should select a venue, after all it is they who have to operate within its restraints. (Torquay has been used several times so there should not be a problem in that respect.) This selection should be approved by the Board.

The overall structure of the event should be decided by the Manager. Again, unless it is a minor modification such as a small change in round times, rate of play or a less significant event this should be with Board approval.

The Manager should be responsible for the day to day running of the event, production of entry forms etc. Also inviting dignitaries and celebrities to the event. (This has always been the case with the exception of Sheffield.) No Board approval needed. If any Board member wishes to make suggestions then that is acceptable.

The Manager should be responsible for producing a budget and to ‘living’ within that budget (Board approval.)

The system should revert to being that the Manager determines qualification rules, subject to Board approval.

The Manager appoints the control team. (No Board approval though the Board may determine positions which have to be filled such as web master, arbiter, games inputter, commentary.)

The Manager arranges bookstall and other side events.

The Manager should liaise with the Marketing Director (and vice versa)over sponsorship. Major sponsorship should require Board approval.

When major situations develop during the event the Manager will be expected to liaise with Board members present or the most appropriate Board member to the situation. It would then be the duty of the Board member to take this further. For example, in the case of Sheffield, the managers liaised with the Director for Junior Chess as they saw it as a child protection issue and not Marketing. It should be the approached Director who takes any subsequent flack not the Manager.

The appointment of a Manager in November to run an event the following July/August is not sensible. You would hardly do this for a weekend congress. It should be a three year appointment with a review in year 2 to allow for succession.
Last edited by Alex McFarlane on Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Roll of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:47 am

Role
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Roll of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:51 am

Alex McFarlane wrote: Firstly the remit of the Manager has to be clearly stated. Quite obviously many decisions taken by the Manager will require Board approval but many will not. Which is which needs to be defined.
Both the British Championships and grading are of sufficient importance to the public face of the ECF that they should be Board posts. The supposed constraint that charitable status places on the size of the Board should be revisited, particularly as the ECF isn't a charity.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:53 am

Thanks. At this time of the morning it is rolls that I am thinking of. Bacon, egg and tomato anyone?

John Upham
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Re: Roll of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by John Upham » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:17 am

JustinHorton wrote:Role
rôle
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:18 am

I'm not sure that I agree with some of the things that Alex thinks should be the role of the congress manager.

Take the budget. It is the ECF, not the congress manager, who takes the financial benefit or hit in relation to the British Championships. Therefore, the ECF should set the budget. This logic extends to things that could seriously affect participation (and therefore the budget) so I would include venue, format and time control within the remit of the ECF. That said, I would expect the Congress Manager to be consulted on these aspects. This is how major events (thinking of Gibraltar, London Chess Classic etc here) operate in my experience..

I do agree with Alex that the role should be clearly defined, if it is not already. There can be little doubt that this would be helpful to all involved.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Roll of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:27 am

John Upham wrote:
JustinHorton wrote:Role
rôle
I tend to leave out diacritics in English. For instance, I write Aragon in English rather than Aragón.

[Later edit - though I see that I am not entirely consistent in this, as I have a forthcoming post on the S&B blog referring to Bartók.]
Last edited by JustinHorton on Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Andrew Farthing
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Andrew Farthing » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:12 am

Alex McFarlane wrote:Andrew Farthing recently claimed that finding a venue is the responsibility of the Home Director.
I do not believe that I have ever made this claim, although I have been accused of it by Alex before. I have repeatedly stated that the Board decides where the Championships will be held (which is correct). The question of "finding a venue" cannot be relevant to a situation where a venue had already been found, agreed upon and contracted a year beforehand.

To be clear:

The Director of Home Chess has overall responsibility for the British Chess Championships. (Source: ECF Regulation No. 2, 'The Directors and Officers Responsibilities Regulations')

The Manager of the British Chess Championships is "appointed by the Board and reports to the Director of Home Chess". He or she "organises the British Chess Championships and Annual Congress." (Source: as above)

All ECF Managers are appointed to execute the decisions and policies of their respective Directors and the Board. Authority to make decisions may be delegated, but responsibility remains with the Director.

The decision as to where the Championships are held is made by the Board. In the case of Torquay, this decision was made over a year ago and a contract signed. Since then, the Board has never discussed a potential change of venue or indeed felt any need to consider such a step. No indication was ever given to the Manager of the British Chess Championships that an alternative venue was needed or that any such possibility should be explored. It would be quite normal for the Manager to consider potential venues for 2014 or beyond, for which no decision had yet been taken, but this is not the case here.

The delegated authority of the Manager of the British Chess Championships does not extend to writing to the contracted provider of the championship venue for the coming year (as decided by the Board a year previously), stating that there had been "many complaints" about the event returning to the Riviera Centre so soon and saying that we would like if possible to adjust our booking to 2014 or 2015, without the knowledge or agreement of the Director of Home Chess (and indeed without even attempting to contact the Director of Home Chess).

For the avoidance of doubt, as soon as the Director of Home Chess became aware of this, he contacted the Riviera Centre to reaffirm our commitment to the contracted arrangements for 2013.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but an attempt is being made to assert that there is grey where there is none, and an account of events has been given on this public forum which is, to say the least, incomplete. It cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:26 am

Sure, but the reason for the confusion is that for most of us, this Plymouth business came out of nowhere and we're naturally puzzled about it. So the question, say, "where did that come from?" doesn't necessarily imply that anything's been hidden from anybody. It just means what it says. I'm entirely confident that Torquay will be the venue next year - I'm just naturally curious as to who, in Playmouth, spoke to whom, in the ECF, and what was said. Nothing sinister, plainly the opposite, but what did happen?
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Paul Buswell
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Paul Buswell » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:08 pm

Andrew Farthing wrote:
Alex McFarlane wrote:Andrew Farthing recently claimed that finding a venue is the responsibility of the Home Director.
I do not believe that I have ever made this claim, although I have been accused of it by Alex before. I have repeatedly stated that the Board decides where the Championships will be held (which is correct). The question of "finding a venue" cannot be relevant to a situation where a venue had already been found, agreed upon and contracted a year beforehand.

To be clear:

The Director of Home Chess has overall responsibility for the British Chess Championships. (Source: ECF Regulation No. 2, 'The Directors and Officers Responsibilities Regulations')

The Manager of the British Chess Championships is "appointed by the Board and reports to the Director of Home Chess". He or she "organises the British Chess Championships and Annual Congress." (Source: as above)

All ECF Managers are appointed to execute the decisions and policies of their respective Directors and the Board. Authority to make decisions may be delegated, but responsibility remains with the Director.

The decision as to where the Championships are held is made by the Board. In the case of Torquay, this decision was made over a year ago and a contract signed. Since then, the Board has never discussed a potential change of venue or indeed felt any need to consider such a step. No indication was ever given to the Manager of the British Chess Championships that an alternative venue was needed or that any such possibility should be explored. It would be quite normal for the Manager to consider potential venues for 2014 or beyond, for which no decision had yet been taken, but this is not the case here.

The delegated authority of the Manager of the British Chess Championships does not extend to writing to the contracted provider of the championship venue for the coming year (as decided by the Board a year previously), stating that there had been "many complaints" about the event returning to the Riviera Centre so soon and saying that we would like if possible to adjust our booking to 2014 or 2015, without the knowledge or agreement of the Director of Home Chess (and indeed without even attempting to contact the Director of Home Chess).

For the avoidance of doubt, as soon as the Director of Home Chess became aware of this, he contacted the Riviera Centre to reaffirm our commitment to the contracted arrangements for 2013.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but an attempt is being made to assert that there is grey where there is none, and an account of events has been given on this public forum which is, to say the least, incomplete. It cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.
For what little it is worth, I think that Andrew Farthing's post is a clear exposition of the lines of authority and responsibility. Obviously it is quite in order for Lara Barnes to seek to have them reviewed.

However, I do feel she was seriously at fault in e-mailing the Riviera Centre without the approval of the Director responsible; that was not in her remit.

Looking at the overall situation, I feel that although Lara Barnes - assisted by Alex McFarlane - has by all accounts done an excellent job as Manager of the Championships, she should now consider her position, and I feel that she should conclude that the time is right for her to step down. I think that the state of the relationship between the Manager and the ECF Board - at least as I see it reflected here - has reached the point at which an honourable separation is the better course. Christopher Kreuzer has pointed out elsewhere that the ECF should not be in a position to rely overmuch on one particular volunteer, and I feel that that might now have to be faced.

Again for what little it is worth I feel too that Mr De Mooi should not seek re-election as ECF President as I feel he has lost the confidence of too many, and seems not to work in the collegiate manner appropriate for an organisation.

PB

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:17 pm

Andrew Farthing wrote:I have repeatedly stated that the Board decides where the Championships will be held (which is correct).
The practical position always seemed that it was decided by those running the event. Prior to 1995, it was a Board level appointment anyway and implicitly remained that way when the Manager was also a Director.

Anyway if it was a Board decision, why is the Championship in Torquay so often? It was there in 1998, 2002 and 2009. In previous years, there may have been financial incentives, alleged missing in 2013.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:22 pm

Andrew,

I think it is inappropriate for you to try to hijack this thread for what appears to be an attack on Lara. As CEO you do yourself no favours in doing so. By all means have a go at me but please allow me to publish the contents of some of your emails so that I can fully defend myself. It seems strange that you should leak other people's emails but be unhappy for me to do that with yours.

Justin,

An initial approach was made by Plymouth to Stewart Reuben who suggested that they should contact Lara (not Adam Raoof nor any other member of the Board). They did so showing interest in the possibility of a future event but more importantly the 100th. However, this was not followed up in any way. Plymouth's representative arrived in North Shields on Friday with a detailed proposal for the 2013 event. His arrival had been expected but not this proposal. The proposal was very detailed and attractive including free first class venue (not in a building they had considered demolishing!) with live chess on the Ho, free entertainment for children, cheap accommodation in student flats (£20). Perhaps Andrew is correct and Lara should have simply rejected it out of hand.

It is clear (and documented) that many people were unhappy when the British went to Scarborough for the third time in a few years. There were many complaints about prices the last time the event was held in Torquay, particularly parking and accommodation. I can produce the survey results to show this.
Having seen Lara's email referred to by Andrew, I can agree that I would have worded it more conservatively but would argue strongly that in the light of the offer being made that it was worth seeing if Torquay would postpone until 2013.
As Paul Cooksey points out in a different thread, I was approached about potential sponsorship of the 2013 event. I let Andrew Farthing know even though I did not consider it to be acceptable or sufficient to attempt to move the venue. As Stewart Reuben points out events are frequently moved. Indeed the European Team Championship was moved from Torquay on the grounds of cost. Plymouth may even have reimbursed lost deposits.
I wonder if Andrew would be quite as critical if Stewart was still in position and had done as Lara had. I am certain he would not be so public in expressing his views as has been demonstrated in the past.

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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:33 pm

Thanks for that - it's a lot clearer to me now.

Couple of questions, though.

a. was Andrew Farthing contacted - or was an effort made to do so - when it was known that this representative was coming up to North Shields? (It's a hell of a long way to come.) How long in advance was this known?

b. was he contacted once the details of the Plymouth representative's proposals were known?


I'm puzzled by Stewart Reuben referring the Plymouth rep to Lara, assuming that this is what occurred, and wouldn't mind having his account. I am less au fait with the details of internal ECF organisation than many, but my working assumption has been that the Congress Manager runs the congress itself, and if somebody asked who was in charge of deciding where it should go to, I'd refer them to the Chief Executive. Is this not so?
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:40 pm

JustinHorton wrote:but my working assumption has been that the Congress Manager runs the congress itself, and if somebody asked who was in charge of deciding where it should go to, I'd refer them to the Chief Executive. Is this not so?
Notwithstanding what it says in the ECF's internal documentation, recent practice has been that the Manager(s) (prior to 2005 Director) does the leg work of sorting out a venue and the financial conditions surrounding it with the Home Director/ CEO/ Board just rubber stamping the result.

Someone should currently be working on establishing the venue, date and format of the 2014 event, who is it?

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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:42 pm

Ok, that's useful. In which case I can see why both Stewart and Lara might have acted as they have done. Though I'd still like to know if (and when) Andrew was actually contacted.
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