Bob & Sue - Issue 53 by Chairman Mao

You may recall that two of the current Board of Merthyr Town FC Directors resigned recently. I was one of that duo and despite calls on Facebook, Twitter and that graveyard of a Forum, we didn’t say a word as there was no need to make a public announcement as our reasons are many, mundane and personal.

First of all there is no major crisis at the club so if you’re looking for some drama then try Broadchurch. It must be said that being a Director of your Football Club is pretty cool and it was an honour and a privilege to be elected by my fellow fans to represent them on the Board.

However as soon as I joined the Board, the direction of the Club was already moving towards a more corporate entity. As the new facility (is there a name yet for the complete building?) grew so did the external stakeholders’ requirement for a more “professional” governance of the new money-making environment soon to be opened at Penydarren Park.

The Board had become little more than an Audit committee to monitor the activities of the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). There should be no issue with that though as the new era at the club demands that decisions need to be made 24/7 but maybe not on Saturdays. A CEO now operates the business of Merthyr Town FC whereas the Board is left to look after our strategic direction and more importantly our soul. That is the reality of our club so can we deliver?

Life can be hectic. Football is a release from the daily grind. To be a Director takes time. There’s always an e-mail to read, a budget to review and maybe even a monthly meeting to attend. For those of us who still need to work to survive our time is precious so when you feel that you’re wasting it then you really have to act.

Board meetings are dull. To be honest they probably need to be formal but do they have to be dull? Bringing an idea to this forum was becoming more redundant by the month. Even with paid staff all of the things we as fans used to do were mostly still left for us to operate. There was no gain. Simple issues like Fixture Cards had to be taken outside of the Boardroom to happen. It was frustrating.

The Candac Suite was closed for months. People changed their match-day habits. It was always going to be a risk. The Park View offered many of us a safe haven on a match-day which was gratefully received. A juke box, cheap beer, free shots and a pool table. Webley’s is now open. A few, including us, have stayed in the Park View on a Saturday. The pre-match routine of no more than 20 football supporters appears to have become an obsession for many on the Board. The atmosphere at meetings was often tense. Would the matter be raised? Were the players really upset that no one was in the bar after a match? Does this stuff really matter?

There is a CEO. The CEO runs the business. The CEO is the corporate face of Merthyr Town FC but does every fan recognise it? There are over four hundred of our fellow supporters who probably never set foot in either Webley’s or Romans and to be fair that’s their choice, it’s all about the football. Eleven players in black & white. No more, no less. The challenge for our club, we own it, is to ensure that every fan coming through those tight turnstiles feels a part of our mission.  Do we do enough?

The same people run the club that more or less ran it a decade ago. Progress through stability is one thing but we do need new ideas and fresh impetus.

In the previous fanzine we touched upon the lack of persons coming forward for election to the Board and here lies the rub of the matter. I’ve outlined some but definitely not all of the frustrations that led us to resign from the Board. To be honest it’s the best thing we’ve done. We are now free to continue with our projects and plans around this brilliant football club. The Board or CEO were never really interested in Beach Parties, Vodcasts and pin badges so there is no loss in fading away.

Some fans have questioned the timing, some have asked us to reconsider and some couldn’t give a toss to be honest. Not that it matters to us. If you are that concerned about your club then you can do something about it.

The Board is elected by us. The Board is populated by us. If you don’t like the direction of the club then stand for the Board. After all there are now two vacancies on it. We asked a few people prior to the previous election to nominate themselves but with no luck. That’s cool. We, more than anyone else, understand that it’s not easy to come forward and put yourself up for election by your peers.

The benefits of being an Owner are being eroded; the cost has increased to £20 a season, there are no regular meetings and no ballots provided for team kit colours. Engagement is declining as the corporate model turns, as it must, towards business opportunities. We must not forget as other clubs have though that the business of Merthyr Town FC is football.

Next season we will begin the cycle again with Ownership being offered to all. Will you join in 2017? Maybe not?

Bob and Sue

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