The ghost of Lewes FC part 1
I understand why some people at the club maybe wish I was dead and a ghost. I am not and for now will be imaginary one.
So I am going to build on my Dickensian Christmas Carol theme.
I am a the ghost. I am going on a tour of various places to show the new and old Board members how I think we can improve. Learning from the past, other people, previous mistakes etc, the present and the future. Most of the themes in the past are of course linked to the future etc etc
In my last blog I took the Board down to the Lewes FC Quiz. I wanted to show them we already have a magnificent community event. A proper community club grows on the back of engaging the community. Not on ‘game changers’ ‘smart ideas’ etc. It is a task of gradually growing a proper community. We need to build our community club in the customary way, not with the underwhelming mooted ‘smart ideas.’
Today I am taking the Board to the away day Bank Holiday fixture at Hastings. A nice day. Slightly worse for wear, as Chris FM took us the long route as we as our intake of lager fermented inside and we cooked. But in the magnificent Pilot Field the atmosphere was lovely. Many groups of families, lots of children, lots of women, a real diversity of ages and people. I then take the Board to the Philcox stand Lewes FC 20/10/17. A historical day as we bagged 8 goals. But the make up of the crowd couldn’t be more different. We noted in the stand a predominant aged 30-50 male audience. Of about 250 fans there were no more than a dozen women and I cannot recollect and children.
The diversity of supporter couldn’t be more different.
The Hastings audience as I remarked to Chris was EXACTLY what the crowds were like under Martin Elliott. A community club in feel.
Currently the fan make up at Lewes FC couldn’t be further removed from the diverse make up under the stewardship of Martin Elliott.
The Board need to recognize this awful drift to an almost elitist make up.
The Board need to recognize also you will pick up more volunteers from a Hastings support base than a Lewes supporters base.
This is how community clubs are formed properly. I depart and leave the board to muse
Speaking to a Board member at the weekend, I get the impression there is a reluctant agreement that the club has lost the town and indeed the fans. We have failed to bring the town and community to the party. Criminally.
The impact of seven years of failed ‘game changers’ at the expense of engaging with the fans, community and town is pretty much now acknowledged.
You know when Scrooge was taken by a ghost with to the house of Bob Cratchett and Tiny Tim on Christmas Eve and he glared in the window at the loving family, the glow of the fire, of happiness, camaraderie the sort of thing that makes a unit work.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t the Board go down to the Dripping Pan on quiz night, peer in through the glass, and they’ll see the same thing. A packed lively happy bunch of people having a great time.
Nick and the people who put this on just couldn’t make it an better which is why it packs out. Challenging questions, fun, banter, competition etc. David, Duncan and the lovely tall lad behind the bar. It is everything we should be doing in a nutshell. Welcome to community.
It’s not like the joyless match days with the reluctant bar staff it is enormous fun.
We do nothing else like this.
I have argued our club, because of who we are, should excel at this sort of community stuff. This is how you build community clubs. Not national media coverage blah blah blah, but er….engaging the community.
The quiz is an example of how our club can and does work. Let’s drop the game changers and get back to basics.
I really hope the new Board members don’t get sucked into the culture of inertia and business gobbledegook but start working out how we can build and expand on quiz night and the principle that if the club love the fans and get them involved more, the fans will reciprocate. That is after all a PROVEN chemistry
The new Board members at Lewes FC will have the unenviable job of dealing with the aftermath of the failed budget parity venture.
Even if a magic wand musters up the donations to cover it, which it won’t, it has already failed.
I understand we were bullishly hoping to divvy out 8 three year investment opportunities @ £10,000 a pop. So far one business has expressed an interest.
Equality FC = Joke
The whole principle is flawed with the men and ladies squad paid supposedly the same, the ladies playing less games means they are paid more per game than the men. The spin from up top on this is incredibly incredulous. The facts are facts. There is not a proper parity of budget.
With the massive success of the fanzine Plan B blueprint, thanks for all the lovely feedback, the candidates for the current Board elections are all saying the club needs to mend the disconnect between the club and Equality….whoops Lewes. Yes folks what better way to turn local people off than to twist away the very name of our beloved club for a bloody marketing gimmick. Equality FC
The Board, who are supposed to represent the fans, went entirely against the wishes of the fans and voted this joke in unanimously. Words escape me at the contempt I feel for their arrogance and lack of due process that we were promised at the start of the community venture. How can you preach community principles and dump on them without so much as a public recognition and apology for your mistake. You expect the savvy town of Lewes to buy that ? Your town of Equality you seem to want so much to get involved with may buy it. The Board really don’t get it.
Especially as it turns out we have been shafted anyway by the FA who want to upgrade the teams at the top of ladies football with ‘names’ despicably cleansing the minnows in time from the upper reaches of the game. Don’t be fooled by the spin. We have been shafted and the Board knew that this was a possible scenario. A Board member told me they knew it was a risk.
It is an unmitigated disgrace this risk was taken and approved by the whole Board. We are dependent on donations. Now even more so….another 75k p/a. With perilous finances you NEVER NEVER take punts on a hunch. It is a gamble. Unacceptable.
September 2017 @Equality FC….sorry Lewes FC female representation on the Board 4/10 members
October 2017 female representation on the Board 1/10 at Equality FC. Just saying
What a travesty and embarrassment. Three months into the Equality FC venture and the ladies representation on the Board has already collapsed.
The new members on the Board need to stand strong and clear this mess up and deliver the club to the town of Lewes and give up this line of ‘game changers’ that have been anything but and build a proper fan based club. We have a clean slate with new members and a re elected member who was opposed to much of what has happened and if we continue to waste the brilliant work of Darren Freeman it’ll be nothing short of gross incompetency and commercial suicide.
I sincerely hope the new members of the Board at Lewes FC can facilitate a new settlement with regards to the relationship between the club owners, democracy, transparency and fan involvement at Lewes FC. Not just the customary lip service.
At the moment Lewes FC is having the annual election for the Board. The aborted election.
Six candidates have stood for five positions. In that we had six candidates for what is a thankless task, the governance of our club, shows them rightly in a fantastic light. Mind you, it is of course an honour to serve on the Board of Lewes FC but amazing such talented people are willing to make a huge sanity sacrifice and pitch in. Thank you
At the fanzine however, we have hammered away at the lack of transparency by the Lewes FC Board. The outrageous and despicable lack of consultation with the club owners over Budget Parity was a gross act of democratic vandalism.
I would argue now not such an act can or should be morally possible. Of course, the Board could argue then, we are elected so we make the decisions. As in effect they did with Budget Parity steam rolling the wishes of the club owners.
But now this is no longer the case.
The majority of the Board are now un elected. Yes we now have a ‘democratically un elected Board’
That’s right folks 6 of the 9 or 10 Board members are un elected having in effect received ‘byes’
As Issi would say. Why is this ? Six candidates stood for 5 positions deeming an election necessary. All produced good addresses. Issi Doyle broke rank with the best address by far, by asking totally pertinent but uncomfortable questions. Sadly in a series of cryptic posts on the fans forum Issi withdrew her candidature. This meant with five seats on the Board available and five candidates the candidates immediately became Board members with the election unnecessary. As was the case with John Peel two years ago. At the same time club stalwart and grandee Jacquie Agnew sadly resigned reducing the Board to 9 members, possibly temporarily. Factor in two of existing board members bank roll the club and one assumes their position on the Board unassailable and six un elected it makes very undemocratic reading. Maybe the most undemocratic un elected elected Board ever !!!
This is of course not the fault of those new members of the Board but our stupid constitution.
The fact remains we now find ourselves governed by an un elected Board which is unhealthy.
The Board absolutely no longer have a moral mandate to do what they did with budget parity as long as the situation remains that the Board are un elected. In fact they no longer have anything other than a de facto mandate. That is a fact. They must acknowledge this and act accordingly.
We were promised transparency and democracy at the inception of Lewes CFC and I expect it to now…at long last and not before time… to be delivered, and I expect the fresh blood on the Board to buck the failings of the past.
To the Board. You are now elected by default and now have a moral obligation to offset this default by opening up and being more open and democratic. Nobody cares that you are in effect un elected, that is our constitution, but with this new unwanted status there has to come a new settlement.
I am going to send all board members a list of questions that I know the owners of the club will want answers to and I will publish the questions in the next fanzine. In the issue after that I will publish the answers and you the reader and fan can be the judge of the new settlement of democracy and transparency at Lewes FC. I cannot be fairer than that. I am not going into a rant of the failings of the past. And don’t want to hear that crap that the AGM and forums can shed proper light on many problems and issues properly. I have found some Board members very helpful but ultimately little is ever given away.
We have a new settlement so let’s move up a gear as part of the process of challenging and beating the disconnect between the fans and the town of Lewes. Thankfully an issue most at the club now recognise as a problem so open up a TRULY open and transparent settlement with the fans make us feel part of the club as originally promised.
Good luck to the new Board members and again thank you for your generous commitment to the club. Please please do as you say you will in your addresses. Question and ignore the ‘fluff’ and other reasons why we cannot be 100% transparent that will be thrown your way.
The restructuring of the ladies game revealed this week by the FA is such a savage indictment of the Board of Lewes FC and their competency it is untrue. Shame forum poster Hammerook was ignored on the issue during the process of trashing the democracy at our club.
October 15th 2016. Hammerook a level headed and sensible poster on this forum said basically we should wait and see what happens with the FA restructuring for 2018, just announced this week.
Come in Hammerook.
‘I’ve felt for a while that while the goal of WSL is a nice one to have i do wonder if its a tad beyond or level and if we should wait to see what the FA throw at us in 2018. It’s not beyond the FA to somehow make it difficult for clubs like Lewes to get promoted especially when you have a number of so called big name clubs with ladies teams at our level and below.’
Read more: http://lewesfc.proboards.com/thread/3391/mens-ladies-budget-parity#ixzz4u4lsM64Y
With hindsight Hammerook is bang on. Hammerook who did not need the benefit of hindsight.
Had the Board taken this advice they may have avoided the humiliation of Budget Parity. Because they have called this so wrong.
I have been looking into this in the last few days with interest and latterly with absolute horror.
I presume an enormous amount of time, energy, thought and process went into parity.
If so why were alarm bells not raised over the despicable enforced relegation of the iconic Doncaster Belles in 2014 from the ladies top division. No team was relegated or promoted between the top two divisions that season. The Belles though were forced out by Man City who finished that year 4th in the equivalent of the second division.
I quote from The Indeendent
‘’When inviting applications from franchises for a reorganised Women’s Super League for the 2014 summer season, the FA had four criteria: financial management, commercial sustainability, facilities, plus player and youth development. Manchester City met them, the Belles did not.’’
That’s right folks through parity we, big Lewes FC are going to buck the system, we are taking on the big guns of the FA who are basically rebranding the ladies game to cleanse it of the minnows, cleansing it of the basic principle of sporting achievement being rewarded, by selling places at the top table. Hilariously / unashamebly they have said the top division will be 8-14 clubs as they are unsure how many clubs will stump up the admission fee to join the party. What a joke.
Evidenced further by the Yeovil Ladies who are in the top flight and despite heroic efforts to take their seat at the top table are now told they need to find £350,000 a year extra to join.
Clear as day the FA are trying to encourage and give a massive leg up to the giants of the game as part of the rebranding and commercialisation of the ladies game.
Why did the Board of Lewes FC not see this coming. Charlie Dobres said on Woman’s Hour parity was not a quick fix and the affects may take ten years. In your dreams. Chuck all the money you want at the Lewes Ladies they are not wanted by the FA.
The Ladies game is heading into an orgy of licences and criteria to popularise the game and we just don’t fit.
I assume the Board knew this. So why budget parity ?
Were they just dumb and did not do their homework ?
Was it just, as most suspect, a gimmick at the expense of the basic principles of fan ownership ?
Were they ambushed by this announcement ? This is the get out of ineptness card but cuts no ice with announcing parity three months before a major overhaul of the game.
If anyone reading this seriously thinks, as I originally did, budget parity is going to be some great boost for the club forget it. For a few years we may dine out close to the top table but it will be a battle we are going to lose and we should have not embarked on. It is throwing good money after bad.
I have always supported the principle of parity, if democratically agreed and phased in.
I now believe it to be a pointless exercise and a waste of, fortunately, someone else’s money.
PS I trust, if we are still in negotiations with possible sponsors, they are made aware of the fact they are sponsoring a totally doomed venture.
Steve Parish ordered a bottle of de Beer, but once he looked at it he bottled it, couldn’t stomach it and poured it away. Hmmmm, he mused, that was an expensive drink.
What has angered me the most about the despicable treatment if Frank de Boer, is the disgusting way the excuses and spin coming from the club indicate it was the fault of Frank de Boer. This was an industrial disaster entirely the fault of the hapless Steve Parish.
After a tenure of fire fighting, through the continued gross mismanagement of Crystal Palace, Parish took the view it was time to stop this cycle and stamp his authority on the Palace. Swinging like Tarzan through the trees Parish has grasped for and plumped for a predictable galaxy of manager’s pretty well suited to the Palace, our rise in stature from TV revenue has made us an attractive proposition. But nobody sticks at it. Pardew did but Parish failed to manage the manager. Pardew is talented but erratic and needed taming. Parish watched on seemingly oblivious to a car crash of his making that could have been avoided. His man management is appalling.
So it was a surprise, but a welcome one, that our chairman grew some balls in an attempt to force positive change at Selhurst Park. Failing at the first hurdle as we start another season in a bloody mess of Parish’s lily livered ineptitude. Appointing a young manager of pedigree was amazing and a brave act. One that needed backing up and supporting. A decision that would bring about a new would involve enormous change and upheaval. Well if anyone thought this was not going to be the case, they were enormously stupid. Sadly, as appears to be the case, they are.
I’m sorry but all the faults the mates of Parish are spinning in the press of criticisms of de Boer leave me cold, because I just think of each and every one of the dim witted excuses and think, well yes sure that happened, but that is what happens when you sign up for upheaval. Oh the players didn’t like him….he’s the manager tough, change was too fast….manage him accordingly which in fairness was done with Burnley, a remit by ALL accounts he acquitted with success, as a top manager does. He has had the gall to kick a ball on the training pitch and the players have gone running to Parish crying and Uncle Steve has said don’t worry children I’ll get rid of him. He was difficult to get on with….ah you stupid morons, what like Sir Alex ? A good manager needs balls of steel. As does a chairman. He didn’t get the club….no he was asked to change it. The most effective managers are disliked managers Etcetera etc etc.
Anyway I am just pleased all the crap from the Palace hierarchy has been received by the world of football and most importantly Palace fans with contempt it deserves.
Palace are a popular club in football and that is because we are a great club, the club of ‘bouncebackability’ tenacity, balls and values. Our brilliant brand has been sorely dented by the gross mismanagement of Parish who is clearly not capable of steering the club safely. Ron Noades, love or loathe him, temporarily brought enormous success to the Palace on a shoestring with shrewdness. Make no mistake the reign of Parish the Great is built on luck and TV revenue. His attempt at creating a long term legacy has lasted 4 games and we continue our run of Premiership status on the most dodgy of foundations.
This is the time when we must redevelop Selhurst or move if we are to develop as a club taking advantage not just of the enormous catchment area but somehow the Home Counties where there exists massive support for the Palace. At loggerheads with Sainsbury, local residents etc and no plan b Parish instead spends enormous quantities of money on players plastering over the dysfunctional monster he presides over but cannot master. We have a Chairman incapable of taking that step up from Premiership mediocrity in a run down stadium as the enemy on the south coast show us how to run a football club. Surely the greatest and most savage indictment of Parish and Co is being overtaken by Brighton, a club we should and could eclipse in every area.
The hiring and quick sacking of Frank do Boer, someone who could start to help end the Palace cycle of mediocrity, shows what many of us have thought for a while now. Steve Parish is out of his depth and all of his big mates in the press and Palace family saying otherwise is contrary to the facts.
Thought I’d stick the Clash in as they have featured in our posters, bit random I know burt it is funny as they look like New Romantics !
The Lewes FC match day posters are well known in football circles and excellent they are too. Using iconic cultural images to promote games and identify the club with is smart. Living in the High Street I have each one in my window.
But actually it is a sign of the times at Lewes FC.
Many people are tiring of the spin, the clever initiatives (very clever they are too), budget parity, 3g, possible ground development, possible new branding options and associates (not the band) and just want to get back to basics.
We have a fanzine out on Saturday. It will not go down well in many quarters.
We will be doing fanzine’s monthly as we believe, and many other people are coming round to our view, Lewes FC simply isn’t working.
Did you know the sugar daddies put more money into the club 2015/16 than the actual first team budget ? FFS we were told we would be self sustained within three years seven years on nowhere near.
I mention posters as a starter so we can highlight where we feel the club has been taken in a wrong direction away from being community based to an unworkable and unfathomable business model that has failed. We will be throwing out a fresh approach to how we can work within Lewes within our means.
So as I stick another poster up do you remember this ?
Rather than swank around our new posters around the national press etc what happened before the community club was formed ? Someone came up with an idea for our old boring posters. Establish a network of fans in outlying towns and villages happy to distribute posters around their local shops clubs etc. What a brilliant form of free advertising and a way of bringing the club together and establishing networks outside of Lewes and building that fan base up. The forum was bursting with people from dozens of outreaching parts to help. I can’t remember if this ever happened in the end, it was when the club was in meltdown. But we must be doing simple things like this rather than court a new soft drinks branding initiative. The focus of the Lewes FC Board is plain wrong.
This is how our club should be run. Not all this slick crap we are fed that has ultimately failed but by utilising the fans into building it.
Lewes FC rather than chewing the fat over how to increase sponsorship etc needs to get back to engaging fans into building the club. Of course it needs dozens of new initiatives like the above. But there are dozens out there and old ones long forgotten.
The board needs to reconnect with the fans after their ham fisted handling of parity and the fanzine will hope over the next issues to contribute ideas so people and fans can consider how things are. Will this do ?
Lewes FC is beginning to take on the look of a failed football experiment.
We have all supported the theory of building a self sustained football club by our continued attendance and support, this has clearly been taken for granted.
In tatters lies the original promise of three years until being self sustained. Extended to five, still nowhere near and continues to be far away on the horizon. The openness and transparency appears to be mere lip service. Democracy? well the budget parity bludgeoning of the fans views says it all. Need I say the farcical decline in the first team performances until Darren came in.
People forget the idea of our current model was to learn from the errors of the Elliott years but nothing has been learnt or changed. On the face of it maybe, but the 2015/6 accounts and the recent parity debacle say otherwise. And yes, parity has been an unmitigated disaster. The club may get the sponsors and I hope they do, but getting them or not is irrelevant. The shoddy way it has been achieved has ruined for many brand Lewes FC Community Club. We are now clearly reliant on two sugar daddies on the Board whose commitment and hard work for the club is not in doubt, but whose vision of achieving it lies in tatters. Parity has backfired. As seemingly does the ‘build it and they will come’ approach which was never despite the blind faith put in the idea was never going to work at a non league football club.
The development of Lewes FC should have been driven by the success of the first team. This done properly should bring in financial security and investment in a high profile non league club with a brilliant fan base. Instead year after year focus is concentrated building the infrastructure as the off field running costs accelerate away from the club income.
The percentage of club turnover going to Darren Freeman is shockingly low and the percentage of club turnover going on back room and admin shockingly high. At this point spare me the crap spouted about lack of volunteers. Few places in this country have a better volunteer culture than Lewes as Bonfire shows yet the Board are haplessly either incapable of harnessing this raw material or it does not fit into their vision of how to run a club. The income from catering is disgrace. I know marque Lewes businesses never even approached for sponsorship yet we are told streams for more sponsorship have dried up. Rubbish. Er try getting out and finding it. That is how non league grass roots football works. Not through slick marketing, talking about it and number crunching but through the traditional rolling up of the sleeves and ‘engaging’ with the business community.
So much of what the current set up has achieved off the pitch has been brilliant. But ultimately on too many of the core aims it has failed and the club and vision has now not so much run off course but hit the rocks.
Enormous change is needed at the club and sadly I sense no appetite from many on the Board for this. My deepest sympathies go to Darren Freeman. His squad per game are now paid 40%, I believe, less than the ladies an oversight perhaps in the formation of Equality FC. Don’t tell me, in this crucial season where Darren needs all the support he can get, the focus of the Board has been on him and not the launching a national gender equality initiative. I accept of course Stuart and Barry are as focused as ever as they work closely with Darren, but as a collective body ?
Sorry I don’t buy it. Too many football clubs have been taken over by smart men with great credentials and buggered it up. Too much faith has been placed in the adventures of the current set up. Business and football do not mix and we are beginning to see the venture hit the rocks and at last many people involved with the club are waking up and smelling the coffee. I hope there is now a realization at Board level that things need to change.
This great sprawl of an entity needs to get back to basics and needs a fresh approach. A random well meaning national initiative is not going to build Lewes FC into the club it should be. Charlie Dobres has said we need to be ‘smart.’ Is this smart ? No, it is a failed vision.
Smart is recognising when to change course. Smart is learning from mistakes. Smart is tapping into the volunteer culture the town is famous for and building our club around that. Building a legacy that will span generations not short term initiatives that turn people off. Lewes FC needs to aim to be self sustained and volunteer run. It needs to not have swish ambitions but to set goals year by year harnessing the amazing talents of those currently involved and those who will become involved if, as is the custom, the fans actually feel this is their club and not some footballing experiment.
The Battle of Lewes 1264 was a building block to the formation of our Parliament.
Sadly at the progressive Lewes FC we have adopted a less democratic model, more akin to that of a more dictatorial approach.
Just under a year ago two of the founders of fan owned Lewes FC had to stand for re election.
They are acknowledged as the driving force behind the club. It has been mentioned numerous times in the public domain without being refuted that they bankroll the club.
When they created the current fan owned model they promised self sustainability. Fail. Massive fail. 2015/6 accounts are dismal
They promised transparency and openness.
Let’s examine the transparency and openness, something I have argued for ages is simply a bogus claim.
So Dobres and Ramsden stood on the platform of introducing budget parity for men and women. A massive thumbs down was achieved from the fans with zero room for any other interpretation. We assumed it has been dropped then all of a sudden July 2017 it is presented as policy. A fait accompli. No fan consultation apart from a lip service meeting with a handful of volunteers two days before it was announced.
Although Lewes has 1200 members, Dobres and Ramsden are the two who members bank roll the club. Fans are aware if they are not on the Board they may cease to bank roll the club. Turkeys for Christmas and all that. These two members proposed the reforms and without consulting the fans at all it has been passed into club policy. This smacks of poor form. Very poor form.
To add to that they were elected on a 20% turnout. The inevitability of the result a possible deterrent.
It was suggested by one sensible Director the gravity of the parity issue should be voted on by the membership.
Clearly not. Of course a purist will say our constitution means they are elected and therefore are mandated to make these decisions.
Surely the fact that members of the Board are elected on such a low turnout, indeed some Board members have taken their place unopposed, would naturally mean the issue would be referred to the membership ? Surely such a tenuous democracy demands it ?
Furthermore. Last weekend I contacted a Board member asking for minutes of Board Meetings so I could reference the minutes for something I am writing. The Board legally do not have to do so but many Board’s do for the sake of transparency and openness
Disgracefully Lewes FC would not allow me access to these important minutes. I asked the Board member, who has always been helpful to me, if he could at least let me know the vote outcome on the issue. There wasn’t one
There has not been a formal vote on anything for at least 18 months. It was suggested voting may cause conflict. Things are discussed through.
Not very democratic, healthy, open or transparent. Despicable