The Trust Board is disappointed to note the latest in a series of failings in the process to form a Plymouth Argyle Supporters Board.
The original aim of the process was noble: to create a supporter-led group to have ‘eyes on the board’ and oversee the operation of the club at board level, by scrutiny of the financial and other business decisions being made by the club board.
In that form, the Trust believes the concept of a ‘Supervisory Board’ has merit, and it allows the Trust to achieve one of its major objectives of club oversight by participating.
However, in the club’s attempts to realise that aim, a series of problems and mistakes have arisen over the last eight months, including but not limited to:
- Initial discussions over the ‘Green Army Supervisory Board’ (GAS Board) being cancelled at short notice;
- A supporter interested in standing was barred from entry to the discussions;
- Information about the PASB was limited to online forums, despite requests to be more open, making it very difficult for the majority of fans to engage with it;
- Despite a near unanimous steer in the second meeting for the GASB to focus on ‘eyes on the board’, its scope was broadened;
- The resulting scope was too vague, and caused confusion over the relationship between the Trust and the Supervisory Board;
- The initial idea to allow all fans to vote at a match was scrapped, putting into question the principle of inclusiveness;
- Hustings were called for the day after candidate information was posted out, meaning members would not see the information beforehand;
- The hustings having been poorly organised were then cancelled, leaving no route for most supporters to query the candidates;
- The official web site even now does not have an area dedicated to information about the Supporter Board and the election.
And now voting forms have been posted to (we assume) some 500 Junior members, including those under five years old.
The Trust Board has always been supportive of the original GASB aim, and has engaged with it through two Board members standing in the individual election, along with the Trust’s main financial advisor and five other Trust members. But the latest shortcoming in the process is one too far; we now believe the election process should be aborted immediately, given the significant flaws.
The Trust Board sees two paths forward.
One is for the election process to be started afresh, with appropriate leadership/ownership and planning to ensure information is made available to all supporters, with proper hustings held, and with candidate statements large enough to be meaningful. A path for supporter Q&A to the candidates should also be provided. If this option is taken, the process must be open and inclusive.
The other option would be to simply allow the supporter groups to form an appropriately focused Supervisory Board. There are no candidates who are not supporter group members, with only one of nine individual candidates not being a Trust member, and these groups are already democratic to different extents. Given the complete lack of interest in the Supervisory Board by those who are not already engaged with the club through being members of supporter groups, this would seem to be a fair basis on which to get a Supervisory Board off the ground.
It is vital that the club takes decisive, appropriate action to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
Regardless of the path chosen, The Trust, as a formally constituted and accountable body, with its own experience of holding General Meetings, meetings with the club board, and elections, would offer to facilitate and chair the initial Supervisory Board meetings, while a formal constitution for the Board is established.
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