Colin asked the Club Board for permission to post the following statement on the Club Website and, given the potentially precarious position facing the Club, we were unanimous in acceding to his request.
So what has the club board ever done for me?…
I’ve wrestled with what to write, given that what I am about to say will enrage some people.
Many will tell me it’s not appropriate to use a club platform to make a personal statement, however, given this may well be my final column, and given the consequences, I believe that fans, as well as members have a right to know what lies ahead.
You will know that Stirling Albion is fan owned. This ownership is represented by members, and the collective representation of the members is fronted by the Trust board. Their job is to reflect the views of their members.
The Trust board are required to hold an AGM. The Trust AGM agenda notification on 27th March lists voting on several resolutions, including two resolutions to remove club board members, Stuart Brown and John Daly.
This isn’t to suggest that members should not be entitled to raise concerns or resolutions relating to the ongoing running of the club, however the unplanned removal of club board members has ramifications on the ability to run the club on a day-to-day basis and beyond.
On speaking to members, these resolutions seem to be borne from two gripes:
1.Finding a target figure for what some have stated as a lack of progress on the field over the last 10 years.
2 The other seems to be because of a director’s personal style of interacting.
I find myself questioning how the club has managed to survive this long, given that, in effect, the members can hold an online popularity contest akin to voting someone off a reality TV show.
Stranger still is the apparent enthusiasm the owners representative board have for such public bloodletting, given that they have not stated publicly what happens if such a resolution is carried. This lemming like behaviour really is at odds to a club that I believe has loftier ambitions than a small minority intent on settling a vendetta of a few years past.
Turning to the plight of the two condemned men – neither being allowed to have a public say prior to the vote on 27th March, voting is in full swing, cajoled by an overtly non-neutral trust board member (awaiting co-option) making announcements along the way. Nothing to see here…
I am perplexed as to why, as a club board member, I seemingly have no responsibility to bear for the progress of the club? That somehow, my views are either irrelevant or ignored. Perhaps, in some strange way, I’m “one of the good guys”, therefore have no case to answer in my 4 years on the board – a strange way to run any serious business. Everyone needs accountability, however, that should be stated in advance rather than pursuing whatever negativity exists within the echo chamber that we call social media.
I should therefore equally be accused of “blame” if that’s what people want to vote upon. Why is this a targeted and personalised campaign against Stuart whilst I seemingly “get away with it”?
Given the high-profile decisions made by other clubs resulting in headlines, surely, we can agree that the club board hasn’t committed any heinous crime? Sadly, some of the personalised attacks on social media would make you conclude that we had.
Stuart Brown goes about his business in a dignified and professional manner, impacting in ways that most fans don’t necessarily see. Most fans seem content in not knowing such details – that is until it comes to the issue of how his potential removal impacts on the club.
He is “rewarded” with expenses being paid – <£8k per annum. Hardly a drain on the club resources, and certainly not to the detriment of the playing squad budget. He routinely puts in 40-to-50-hour weeks with very little time off.
Without Stuart Brown at the helm creating the space and time for me to get involved in the things I do, I simply can’t perform my role.
My job is therefore untenable without a suitable level of support – and in the absence of any alternative, I’m left assuming that any alternative will almost certainly not include me, given the lack of communication.
More worrying still, perhaps there is no alternative, which begs the question why any responsible owner would allow the club to be sunk below the waterline before allowing a resolution to be voted upon. In this instance, there’s a fine line between democracy and stupidity, especially when it looks like there is no Plan B in place.
In recent months, we have begun our own succession planning – the replacement of the long serving Alan Christie with Lorri Graham being the most visible appointment. I want to record my own personal thank you to Alan for ensuring the club is financially in a better place than when he arrived. I wish Lorri every success and best wishes; her qualifications and skills will modernise the club in ways we’ve not yet been able to deliver.
John Daly has agreed to replace the role that Graham Douglas vacated as club secretary. I want to record my own personal thank you to Graham for his role in safeguarding the club during his 10 years of service on the club board.
John is the voice of reason when tensions run high, and alongside his loyal wife, Marion – you have two of the most committed people this club needs to flourish.
The arrival of Niall Marshall has allowed Grant Morrice to focus on the more strategic aspects of delivering football within our community, including, as I highlighted in the last match day programme, the start of a women’s team wearing Stirling Albion colours.
I think we’ve demonstrated succession planning in action, and arguably would have made changes earlier, however, when the pandemic struck, the focus rightly shifted to the survival of the club in one of the greatest periods of uncertainty ever experienced by football clubs.
Undoubtedly, this season’s league campaign has been a frustrating one however this isn’t the only benchmark of what creates a successful club.
This season, the team attained our highest finish in the revised format of the league cup.
The players have made our longest run in the Scottish Cup for many years, culminating in our biggest gate receipt in the club’s history.
I understand the frustration of the league, especially given we sat 2nd spot after the first 9 league matches (Tongue in cheek – I note there were no cries to remove Stuart or John back then, nor congratulations for them doing an amazing job of reaching such unexpected highs!)
As a fan myself, it’s difficult to separate those feelings, whilst maintaining a professional approach to matters both on and off the field throughout the season.
The lines have been blurred between fan ownership and fan operations. The majority seem to be happy to allow the club board to get on with the routine aspects of running a club.
Others are more vociferous about selection of managers and players. I urge those same fans to reflect if they’d ever consider working as a manager under those sorts of conditions? It is simply not appropriate for the club board to interfere in the changing room. The minute we do that, we may as well not employ a manager.
The club board largely give up their time unpaid and over many hours a week. We accept constructive criticism and that, despite our best efforts, occasionally mistakes have been made.
The club board are not seeking pay or rewards however a little more respect that we try our best, despite our limitations and faults, would go a long way.
Most of us acknowledge that having paid professionals doing the work we do would be everyone’s preference, however, sacrificing what little playing budget we have without building up the necessary reserves to deliver success both on and off the park requires patience and a lot of money.
I am proud of what the club board has achieved and can’t allow it to go unstated – we have a club that we can still support.
I hope that Stuart & John survive the vote on 27th March.
If not, then I want everyone to know that I will step aside with immediate effect that day – I take my responsibility seriously and would attest that this doesn’t sit at the door of these two men.
I hope this adds some perspective to the debate and ends the speculation of many of you who’ve asked what I will do next.
Should that happen, then I want to thank all of the supporters, management and players at the club for allowing me to serve for 4 amazing years. I’ve really enjoyed the debates, humour, frustration, and other emotions that we all feel being part of this great club.
If you’d like to chat to me about it, please contact me on the email below. Thank you in advance.