Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
John Upham
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Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by John Upham » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:27 am

Has anyone had a chance to review the following:
Dear Member of the English Chess Federation,

The Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission has been tasked by the ECF Board with carrying out a review of the ECF's Articles of Association and other aspects of ECF governance. The Commission's full terms of reference are published on the ECF website at this link.

In September 2014, the ECF Board subscribed to the Voluntary Code of Good Governance for the Sport and Recreation Sector. The ECF and other Signatories are expected to adopt the seven governance principles of the Code :
• First principle. Integrity : Acting as guardians of the sport, recreation, activity or area.
• Second principle. Defining and evaluating the role of your board.
• Third principle. Setting vision, mission and purpose.
• Fourth principle. Objectivity : Balanced, inclusive and skilled board.
• Fifth principle. Standards, systems and controls.
• Sixth principle. Accountability and transparency.
• Seventh principle. Understanding and engaging with the sporting landscape.
The full text of the Code is available at this link.

The Commission expects that any recommendations it makes will be consistent with the Code. The Commission would welcome the views of constituent units, counties, leagues and other associations as well as direct members on any aspect of ECF governance. We would like to hear about what you think is being done well, as well as what you think needs to improve or be updated, with particular reference to the principles of the above Code. All views expressed will remain confidential. Please email us at Independent.Review@englishchess.org.uk. or write to Independent Review, English Chess Federation, The Watch Oak, Chain Lane, Battle, East Sussex TN33 0YD. Comments received by 30 June 2015 will have the most impact on our work.

Yours sincerely,
Gareth Pearce
Committee Chairman
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:06 am

John Upham wrote:Has anyone had a chance to review the following:
It's something of a forest of verbiage to obscure what many would see as the key point; namely that as the Hitler parody points out, individual chess players have so little say in the running of the ECF and who it elects as directors, that they aren't even allowed to vote for their own choice of ECF Player of the Year.

Paul Dargan
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Paul Dargan » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:19 am

Saw it in my inbox - visually un-appealing ... on the to-do list.

Paul

harrylamb
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by harrylamb » Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:09 am

I replied saying that if he was really interested in governance he would have an unsubscribe button on the email. That way I could avoid receiving this type of unwanted spam.

Harry Lamb
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:21 pm

I think there is a very serious issue at stake here.

My reading is that this commission is set up with the brief that it builds an ECF round the Code of Good Governance rather than examining what is appropriate for the ECF.

I have read (most) of that Code of Governance and though it contains many sensible and laudable ideas I nevertheless found it very disturbing. Throughout it does emphasise that the 'athletes members and participants' of an organisation should be communicated with by the Board, but it is clear that the primary objective of this is to keep them on-board. There seems no concept in the document that the Board is there as the servant of the membership and that the purpose of the organisation is to serve the wishes of the membership. The membership is one 'stakeholder' among many - which includes Government, the Sports Council, international organisations connected with the sport and, of course, the most important stakeholders - those mythical sponsors. It is stressed that non-executive members should <b>ideally</b> be unconnected with the sport and that the Chairman should be selected by the Board, not the membership. It suggests that the position of Chief Executive should be filled as a result of interviews by the Board (which I accept might make sense where the C.E. is a salaried position with as brief to be the executive of policies determined elsewhere - but that is not our situation).

This is quite different from the historic origin of the BCF as a federation of chess groups coming together for cooperative purposes in the furthering of the game. The structure we have at present with the cumbersome Council structure is one that most of see as unfit for purpose, but at present we are in real danger of losing any control that we may have over our own game and this venture should not be laughed off as just unwanted spam (sorry Harry, I understand your sentiment entirely and the Emailing is being overused - but we do need to be aware of what is going on).

Rarely do I feel that Roger's Cassandra-like pronouncements should be taken too seriously but in this case he shares with Cassandra the curse that he is never believed. The virtual imposition of direct membership (which, deaf to Cassandra, I have always hitherto supported) has forced chess players into a dependence on the ECF, not just because they want a grade, but more importantly that opponents do and they cannot have one unless they play in tournaments where non-members are effectively banned. Having achieved a situation where playing of chess at a competitive level is under the control of a central organisation we see it seeking to extend its control by its attitude to Chess Academies that it has taken a dislike to.

My reading of the current Board, the C.E. in particular, is that there is a strong belief that the Board should rule; a dislike of dissent and a personality that wants to control. Maybe with a different person in post a centralised organisation might not pose such a threat - but structures should be based on who might be in charge and we should not simply hope that we get decent people there. Do we want to finish up like FIDE or FIFA?

NickFaulks
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:02 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:Do we want to finish up like FIDE or FIFA?
Michael,

Who do you believe runs FIDE? I only ask because I genuinely do not know what answer to expect from you.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:13 pm

Anything that encourages Phil Ehr in his habit of incomprehensible phrase-mongering is to be discouraged.

Not to mention his liking for making or signing up to statements and policies which are not going to be followed in practice.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:35 pm

Ehrism aside, the Code is manifestly designed for sporting organisations which are much bigger than the ECF: with a large affiliated membership, substantial commercial activities, professional executives and so on. It's just not relevant to our present circumstances.
"Do you play chess?"
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:47 pm

I'll recycle what I wrote last September in another forum
Had the code been in place five years ago, what would the ECF have done differently in that period? Would it for example have prevented the non-disclosure of the ECF acting as Kasparov's agent in a dispute over FIDE Vice-Presidents, or handled the aftermath of a major row between the ECF President and the organisers of its prestige event?

At a more general level, I'm far from convinced that the combination of a small Board and independent directors makes any sense at all. Why elect or appoint clueless passengers? It's enough of a problem already that the ECF Board finds itself out of touch with even the opinions of the voters on Council, let alone the broader mass of actual players.

Chess governance and perhaps mind sports governance in general is difficult because the longevity of playing careers can mean administrators with far less experience than those they are attempting to rule.
Unsurprisingly I didn't really get an answer. The CEO said the first point was "challenging" and the other two "off topic".

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:19 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Michael Farthing wrote:Do we want to finish up like FIDE or FIFA?
Michael,

Who do you believe runs FIDE? I only ask because I genuinely do not know what answer to expect from you.
That's a big question, Nick. For much of what FIDE does I have no problems and I am aware that a lot of work is done by many committees with a wide diversity of input. - I am not a FIDE hater and I actually think the ECF should be a lot more positive in its engagement. However, I do think that there are a few individuals at the top of the organisation who cannot be properly held to account and I suppose that is what I was thinking. In a similar way much that is done by the ECF or its officials is of great benefit and gets insufficient praise.

Forums tend to produce strong statements that posters then try to defend too resolutely. If this was the former then I am trying not to fall into the latter category.

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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by benedgell » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:03 pm

Past the 30th June deadline for comments, the ECF has now sent invites to regional council delegates/ presidents for face- to- face interviews near the end of the month.

Angus French
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Angus French » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:13 pm

benedgell wrote:Past the 30th June deadline for comments, the ECF has now sent invites to regional council delegates/ presidents for face- to- face interviews near the end of the month.
Ben, are you able to say what's meant by "regional council delegates/ presidents"? Is it, for example, a reference to the chess unions (made up of multiple counties) or the chess counties? And can you tell us what specifically the consultation is about?

Julie Denning
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by Julie Denning » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:13 am

Angus,
The invitation that has come to me was in the form of an e-mail from Phil Ehr and referred to "input from Presidents and Council Representatives of the regional chess unions". From this, I deduce that the intention is only those Council representatives from the Unions. This is in line with what I recall being stated by Gareth Pearce at the last Council meeting. I intend taking up the invitation on behalf of SCCU. To this end, I have sought inputs from all other SCCU Officers and County representatives (and more generally from around my own County - Sussex) adding to / detracting from thoughts that had already occurred to me. In your case, please liaise with Mike Gunn (current Surrey rep to SCCU) if you want to feed anything back to me ahead of this meeting which is anticipated to be on either the 20th or 21st July.

Julie Denning

NickFaulks
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:29 am

Michael Farthing wrote:
NickFaulks wrote:
Michael Farthing wrote:Do we want to finish up like FIDE or FIFA?
Michael,

Who do you believe runs FIDE? I only ask because I genuinely do not know what answer to expect from you.
That's a big question, Nick. For much of what FIDE does I have no problems and I am aware that a lot of work is done by many committees with a wide diversity of input. - I am not a FIDE hater and I actually think the ECF should be a lot more positive in its engagement. However, I do think that there are a few individuals at the top of the organisation who cannot be properly held to account and I suppose that is what I was thinking. In a similar way much that is done by the ECF or its officials is of great benefit and gets insufficient praise.

Forums tend to produce strong statements that posters then try to defend too resolutely. If this was the former then I am trying not to fall into the latter category.
Michael,
Sorry, I've just found this when the thread revived. My question had no side, I just wanted to know the answer because one hears many theories. From what I can see you're about right, although we may not have have quite the same people in mind. We can continue this privately.
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benedgell
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Re: Independent Constitutional and Governance Review Commission

Post by benedgell » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:13 am

Angus French wrote:
benedgell wrote:Past the 30th June deadline for comments, the ECF has now sent invites to regional council delegates/ presidents for face- to- face interviews near the end of the month.
Ben, are you able to say what's meant by "regional council delegates/ presidents"? Is it, for example, a reference to the chess unions (made up of multiple counties) or the chess counties? And can you tell us what specifically the consultation is about?
The email I was forwarded was originally sent from the ECF to the WECU President and WECU's ECF Delegate. I think its unlikely anyone from WECU will be attending. There's not really any interest in contributing further to the consultations.

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