This is a personal account of 14 April 2012, the day of the ECF Finance Council meeting. The views expressed are my own.
And so it begins…
5.45 a.m. Awake to a loud buzzing. Infernal alarm clock.
6.10 a.m. Check e-mails. Just for once, nothing of note received overnight.
6.30 a.m. On the road to Worcester Shrub Hill station.
6.45 a.m. COFFEE #1. First signs of life in me, if not anywhere else. Continue meeting preparations.
7.08 a.m. London train departs, on time. Amazingly, hardly anyone else seems to be up and about on this crisp Saturday morning. What can they be thinking?
Continue re-reading the Board and Council papers. There are an awful lot of them this time. Who writes these things? Oh, right… that would mostly be me.
9.26 a.m. Arrive in Paddington three minutes early. In the light of later events, fail to appreciate the wonder of this.
9.45 a.m. Emerge from Baker Street tube station to the sight of a large crowd of drinkers outside a pub wearing mostly red, a few blue scarves. Must be a football match going on. News to me.
9.48 a.m. COFFEE #2.
10.00 a.m. Buy expanded third edition of Anand’s games collection at the Chess Shop. Having bought the previous two editions, feel mildly resentful. The additional contents amount to 200 pages out of 540. Have the words “Volume 2″ disappeared from the language?
10.12 a.m. Walk to Euston. Could be the last taste of fresh(ish) air for quite some time.
10.30 a.m. Arrive at Euston Square Hotel. Most of the Board already there. COFFEE #3.
11.00 a.m. The usual pre-Council Board meeting. Most substantial business is discussion of the tenders for the online membership management solution and website redesign. Board opts overwhelmingly to proceed with Cvent proposal. Discussion of whether to amend budget proposals to include work on general website redesign and, if so, what amount. It’s agreed that Director of Marketing will raise the subject at Council during the discussion of the budget, making the case for modest expenditure, to assess Council’s appetite.
12.50 p.m. ECF Board meeting closes. Brief meeting of BCF management committee begins.
1.05 p.m. Lunch break. Council delegates start to arrive in the meeting room.
FINANCE COUNCIL MEETING
1.30 p.m. Start on time. It’s a formidable, 24-item agenda, with a maximum available time of 5 hours (less a short tea break), i.e. about 12 minutes per item on average. Piece of cake…
1.34 p.m. Items 1-3 completed and Minutes approved.
1.35 p.m. Matters arising from the Minutes not otherwise on the agenda. Alex McFarlane, representing the Scarborough congress, read out a statement asserting that the President’s Report approved at the previous Council meeting should be considered inaccurate in the light of subsequent information. Discussed for 25 minutes without clear conclusion.
2.02 p.m. Chief Executive’s Report. Updated Council on the Board’s decision regarding the online membership solution. This prompts 8 detailed questions from one person alone. Council not being asked to approve Board decision, but discussion continues regardless.
2.25 p.m. Still on my report. It mentions the CAS lawsuit against FIDE. Despite my pointing out that this is the following agenda item, discussed for 10 minutes, mainly regarding the non-reporting of the case to Council at the 2011 meetings.
2.35 p.m. Back to the events following the 2011 British Championships and, in particular, matters relating to a teleconference of the Board directors, referred to erroneously by me at the time as a Board meeting but technically not one. This leads to mild hilarity when Mike Gunn refers to his having been overseas and therefore “not present at the non-meeting”.
2.52 p.m. A few delegates are starting to grow concerned at the slow progress and press the Chairman to move to next business. The Chief Exec’s Report is approved, with – if memory serves – one vote against.
2.56 p.m. Update on lawsuit. Delegate comments are overwhelmingly disapproving of the Board’s judgement in deciding to initiate the action and of its failure to brief Council on it. It is decided that the most appropriate way to express approval or disapproval is to vote on acceptance or rejection of the FIDE Delegate’s report. On a hand vote, the score was 17-15 in favour of approval, but the closeness indicated the need for a card vote. This saw the report rejected, 73 to 103.
3.13 p.m. The first piece of finance business: item 7 (Report on ECF accounts for the year ended 30 April 2011). We’ve averaged 22 minutes per agenda item thus far, but this is a quickie. Approved with none against after four minutes.
3.17 p.m. Introduce the report of the Chairman of the Finance Committee, who is unavoidably absent. Discussion of the first half, concerning the annual accounts, takes just over five minutes. Questions stray onto the second half, which concerns the accounts of the 2011 British Championships. John Philpott explains to Council the work that he completed on these and talked through the figures. Council is satisfied with the corrected accounts as presented but concerns are expressed over lapses in the processing and approval of transactions, which are breaches of the ECF’s Financial Bye Laws.
Connecting this to earlier discussions, a motion is proposed which, after debate, is modified to the following:
Council considers that the conduct of the President brings his performance in the role into question and calls for a full review of his activities.
After a close hand vote, the resulting card vote saw the motion defeated 84 – 93.
4.05 p.m. Just past halfway in terms of time; a third of the way down the agenda, with the most substantive topics still to come. With some relief, delegates welcome the Chairman’s announcement of a ten-minute tea break.