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1- FTT47 07/08/10 Free Table Tennis 47 ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE ENGLISH TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION? Howard.firstname.lastname@example.org MURDOCH DISGRACE INTRODUCTION The English Table Tennis Association has decided to cease publication of Table Tennis News! That is the shocking news from the National Council meeting held on the 24th July in Daventry. The National Council meeting achieved a new low in the chairmanship of Alex Murdoch as he allowed a docile assembly of National Councillors to end the publication that used to be considered as the leading publication in the table tennis sporting world. I understand that the only National Councillors who spoke on the subject were in favour of retaining the publication in the face of Public Relations supremo Jim Beckley and Chief Executive Richard Yule complaining about the amount of staff time that is taken up by producing TTNews. Apparently the circulation numbers are low. When was the last attempt to boost circulation? The circulation has dropped because they have made the magazine less interesting – what do they expect? So how and why, you may ask, did National Councillors vote on the side of Alex Murdoch and his pathetic Management Committee? Did Alex Murdoch speak in favour of retaining TTNews? No! “Why not?” You may ask. Surely on a policy matter of this importance, the chairman should state his opinion. But no, when strong leadership was called for, Alex once again went missing. Excessive staff time taken up with the publication? When George Yates, a volunteer, was the editor he was also in full-time employment and he produced excellent editions of TTNews. FTT has commented in the past regarding the fact that the ETTA now has over fifty members of staff: at this meeting, Richard Yule admitted that there are ninety members of staff – who, where? What are they doing? Mr Yule also admitted that the people concerned with TTNews at the Hastings Office are IT people who do not know much about table tennis. So who employed them and why? Quite a number of letters to FTT this issue. This section may increase as a result of the loss of Table Tennis News!!!!!! 2- FTT47 07/08/10 ETTA AGM REPORT By Brian Halliday I am sure that by now the official transcript of the outcome of the recent AGM will have been promulgated to members. (Maybe FTT are ahead of the game!) I won’t bore readers with the more routine aspects of the AGM. There were however, a number of items I raised on your behalf, and also one or two propositions of interest. Proposition 12 on the agenda received considerable debate and centred on the proposed approval “ITTF approved racket coverings being mandatory for all Competitive Table Tennis”. A show of hands in favour was inconclusive and, as a 75% majority was necessary, a card vote was requested. This meant that every league would have a say in the result. After counting, the outcome was just too close to call and so we had to have a recount. The result was that the proposal was passed with a less than 1% approval. As I understand it this means that players in competition must use ITTF approved rubbers, however a local league would probably turn a blind eye if an illegal rubber was used (e.g. frictionless). It is important to note that in tournaments, county matches etc., then the approved ITTF rubbers must be used. Proposition 7 which proposed a link to affiliation fees with the Retail Price Index was overwhelmingly defeated. Debate on the Annual Report is usually interesting and can be a little contentious. This year was no exception! Members have the opportunity of raising questions where there is concern and also of pointing out any errors in the Report. A bad start then when it was pointed out that all the National Councillors listed were for the forthcoming season and not the season on which the report is based. A minor point yet quite funny nevertheless. Next came Finance and I asked the Treasurer that as we had been allocated an amount of £1.2M under the 4 year plan, why had the vast majority been spent in years 1 and 2? Also why had table tennis been the only sport singled out for funding cuts in 2011 and 2012, in the run up to the Olympics? The explanation was a little convoluted. A review was to take place in December. As to how teams will be funded, the explanation was unsatisfactory. The amount refers to preparations for 2012 which included teams within the overall remit “Great Britain” and funding is separate in that respect. The new website came in for some criticism, especially regarding the long delay in its implementation. There were the usual moans and groans about Table Tennis News. Ken Muhr voiced his concerns about the possible discontinuance of the magazine, but the meeting appeared to me to be pretty apathetic about the subject. Alan Ransome spoke with some passion about the dearth of lady players pointing out that 100 County matches had been aborted. He asked whether Management were serious about continuing with the County Championships. The Deputy Chairman said that they “were - - - Continued Next Page - - - 3- FTT47 07/08/10 looking into it”. Alan also commented on the clash between the English Junior and the World Junior Championships which had precluded our best players the chance of National titles - they had had six months to get this right with unfortunately a negative result. Many English players have, in the past, enjoyed entry to the English Open, and Alan again raised the subject of no qualifying event being available. It would appear that this will be rectified for next season’s “Open”. I am quite sure that you will not receive the following in any detail so I will try to give it a little more attention. Selection: On your behalf (I trust) I spoke with feeling concerning the diabolical England results in the recent World Team Championships in Moscow. England men had finished in 38th position one place above Scotland. That alone must raise a few eyebrows considering the massive variation in funding available to the two countries. Well how did England mange to lose to Iran and then Vietnam? How come our number 1 player lost to World No 231 Akhlaghpasand and World No 244 Allamiyan? No, I had never heard of them either… Also the report stated that “Paul Drinkhall jumped to No 93 in the World Rankings”. After the Moscow results our leading player found himself at 161. Perhaps we can forgive a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the much improved Scot, Gavin Rumgay, but really the results were not what we expect from our Number One player. With Darius Knight dropped the rest of the squad performed adequately, however where on earth is it all going wrong? Am I alone in wondering why the hundreds of thousands spent on developing our England team have resulted in such a dismal return? How is it possible that Steen Hansen “worked” full time for nine years with minimal results, and now Richard Yule has taken on the job on a one day a week basis? Peter Charters (Vice Chairman, Selection) replied, and to my surprise said that he agreed with my review of the situation and that the current situation was unsatisfactory, and that he had no answers at the present time. There were better results from the women in Moscow and this is of course a step in the right direction. The fact remains, however, that the overall situation is dire. What is the solution? Yes we desperately need an Academy (how many times have I written that?). We also need a dynamic supremo to oversee the operation - and if that happens to be an overseas guy so be it. I am quite certain Richard Yule would be the right candidate, but how on earth can he flit between Hastings and Sheffield doing two massive jobs. Not fair on him and not fair on us. The replies to questions on these matters always centre on “well we just can’t afford it”. Sorry but I just don’t buy this. With a more pro-active and dynamic approach we CAN make a difference and sort the whole ghastly mess out. Your comments, together with suggested solutions, are invited. Howard comments – Yes the errors in the Annual Report were childish, especially when the later date of the AGM gave more time to get the facts correct and, once again, the Report was late being issued. I understand that Alex Murdoch refused to admit that the wrong list of National Councillors was included. Peter Charters admission that he did not know where they have gone wrong shows that he has not been reading FTT properly! 4- FTT47 07/08/10 TABLE TENNIS NEWS – THE END? Late in July 2010 the ETTA National Council killed off the official organ of the Association, The vote was narrow, the number of abstentions large. Clearly the ten management votes were decisive. A vote of Councillors alone would have kept the Magazine alive. It is now - or was - infinitely better printed than in the days of George Yates. The difference was that in George's days the journal was full of news, opinion, controversy, criticism and good ideas, not all from the “establishment”. Above all, criticism was enjoyed by many and tolerated by the management, although it often did not enjoy it. To few did it occur to introduce censorship or similar. The sport was infinitely better than it is now. I have, over the years, contributed many articles and for many years these were often critical of what was going on. Often I found that what I had suggested was accepted somewhat later by which time, someone else could take the credit for what seemed at last a good idea. Often what I wrote was resented by the establishment but liked by the rest. I was voted the most popular contributor in one poll conducted by the late Rob Oldfield as well as the one whose contributions were read first. After my stint as ETTA Chairman my articles no longer received the welcome they once had. I had once used my County Notes to report on and comment on more national activities. I was in a good position to do this, as I travelled a lot in support of my son, a busy junior player. I met a lot of people, saw a lot of tournaments and so was well in the wider picture. An idiotic ruling that contributors must only report on their own county was introduced. As mine was a small county, it was impossible to include enough of national interest. Other contributors were similarly affected. It did not occur to our rulers that for the sake of killing what they saw as criticism they were making the whole County section uninteresting, It is hardly particularly absorbing to read about players one has never heard of playing players similarly unknown. The County columns became almost unreadable and when there was something of interest somewhere, one missed it. My articles and those of others with independent mind sets were no longer welcome and what was substituted was largely what you have been seeing for some years and bought in ever reducing numbers. In vain Free Table Tennis tried to point out the errors of the ways of Table Tennis News. In exchange for not having to read any criticisms of the chairman and his sensitive crew, the Magazine was being turned into a vast reservoir of boredom, circulation went down, losses increased and now the decision was taken which all previous administrations would have thought unthinkable. The journal has been shut down. There were still a few hundred loyal readers but who cared about them? No chance was taken to call together people with some experience of such matters, some very fierce critics. Why was there not a meeting of people with real interest and long records of contributing? People like Brian Halliday, Ken Muhr, Alan Ransome and myself would have rallied and perhaps old enmities would have been forgotten in the common cause. - - - Continued Next Page - - - 5- FTT47 07/08/10 I cannot think of any sport that does not have an official Magazine to publicise their sport. Our own tradition of making a mess of everything unfortunately again triumphed. There are deceptive signs of activity, even success, for instance a very fat bank account, but we are not a success. Our playing efforts as expressed by national teams, both senior and now junior are terrible for a country of our size, wealth and traditions. We are the obedient creature of the sporting quangos that admittedly make life comfortable in financial terms giving us money to waste where once the greatest care had to be taken. If any evidence was needed by those still slow on the uptake then the murder of Table Tennis News was clear proof of how we had lost our way. In most organisations such failures would not be accepted and there would be changes in management. I fear that due to lack of interest our own management will continue to stumble and will continue to make the wrong decisions because hardly anyone cares any more. Our local leagues do not need THIS ETTA and how long will it take till the ETTA itself will go the way of Table Tennis News which it willingly sacrificed? John Prean Howard comments – I think that most of our readers will agree with John. The content and standard of Table Tennis News has been allowed to deteriorate over recent years with little attempt to halt the decline in standard and quality, such that many of our younger members may not mourn it‟s passing. WORLD CUP (FOOTBALL) COMMENT: You can watch the Uruguay (football) players playing table tennis on www.tinyurl.com/2wjez6y Jose Mourinho recently turned down the post of Pope when he heard it was something in the way of an assistant position. Mourinho became famous while in England for wearing a raincoat while Steve McLaren was condemned as the „wally with a brolly‟ – what could be more „english‟ than an Englishman carrying an umbrella? A READER CONTINUES ON THE FOOTBALL THEME! An old friend, now a prominent figure in the current ETTA hierarchy recently extracted some comfort from the long period of mourning that followed the performances of our “Soccer Millionaires” in the recent World Cup. “You, Brian, John and FTT now know that we are not the only ones to have suffered setbacks”, he told me. Terry and Rooney, on a reported 5 million p.a., had done no better than our own much maligned table tennis star/s. Although he had probably taken long to think all this up, I could not offer him any comfort. The soccer colleagues did at least make the last 16; we ended up in 38th place. They had beaten Slovenia (pop.2M), we had not. Capello had survived, perhaps mysteriously, Steen had gone, but that was his idea, not ours in the end. On our side, gone had two innocents (coaches) whom we had only recently taken on. - - - Continued Next Page - - - 6- FTT47 07/08/10 Mr Jai, our headman, had been with us for 16 years and he is still here after some junior success (male) but a very long period of senior failure. Steen will be replaced by Richard Yule, working on this one day each week in Hastings running a project in Sheffield. Everything now seems to be done in Sheffield. The National Championships are there every year and we have just learned that Alex is still “looking into” blunders accumulated over many years pointed out by Brian and others, some bordering on the farcical. Naturally the English Open is also played in Sheffield and the training establishment where our top players train is also in Sheffield. We seem to confine ourselves to an area roughly the size of Luxembourg and must not be surprised, if we play like Luxembourg. I cannot know whether recent funding cuts by previously helpful quangos are due to the financial situation of the country or a direct reward for our recent failures. However, everything was halved. The two innocent coaches are on their way back to their motherlands. Players tell me that one of them was excellent which is more than was conveyed to me regarding some of the survivors. Everything seems dominated by the quangos. If they fail to pay up everything creases. Everything has to be approved by the funding quangos whose knowledge of our sport is limited, or zero. We have found the formula for total failure. If the sport is talked about, it is now in terms of failure. Media and public have lost interest. New management is the only answer. It is no pleasure to report this. “CRITIC” Comments upon previous reports The following response has been received to my comment in FTT46 that “changes made to the method of implementing I.M. and that those changes had been publicised on the ETTA website, without any comment as to what had been changed.” “It's is important to note that nothing in individual membership changed - what the re-release of the process document did was to outline alternate ways of handling individual membership. For leagues/clubs with a high percentage of members on e-mail using the electronic process is a no brainer. This was the input we got from a majority of the attendees at the Membership User meeting - that meeting in itself was an ETTA first I believe. My League with no opposition and few concerns accepted at last weeks AGM - No membership number - no play, i.e. You have to get your membership online before you start playing. This is exactly what the new process suggests as an alternative method.” M. Howard comments – Thanks M. for explaining the change. 7- FTT47 07/08/10 Critic wrote in FTT46, “I am afraid we do need change, but, if anybody thinks Murdoch is doing a good job, perhaps they will let us know. It is hardly the critics who have brought us to our present dismal situation.” Howard asked supporters of Alex to inform us what he has done well. No “supporters” responded and the only response was the following: “Yes, will any Alex supporters please tell us what he has done well? There aren't any - there's just people who don't like Ransome or in the main his trade connections” Howard comments – Alan is a very successful businessman who happens to be involved in the sports equipment field. I do not see that as a handicap to his involvement in the English Table Tennis Association any more than a successful accountant becoming the ETTA treasurer. Yes, he has made decisions that were unpopular but the popular decision is not always in the best interests of the Sport. In FTT46, in an item upon “Ping, London” or the introduction of a hundred outdoor tables in London, I stated:”It is said that the ETTA volunteers will organise activities and competitions. According to ETTA Directives, everyone participating in competitive play must be a paid-up ETTA Individual Member. Are Alex Murdoch and Martin Clark going to be patrolling London ensuring that the people playing are Individual Members, getting them to fill in forms and pay their money? Can anybody explain to me? The following response was received – “Competitive play, as I am sure you know, is defined by rule 9.2.13. These competitions by definition cannot be classed as Competitive as nobody is representing Club, League or County. Malc Howard responds – Sorry Malc, you are taking me too literally. Yes I know the ETTA Rules but the point I was trying to make was that there had been no explanation of how the people taking advantage of these tables were going to be encouraged to become table tennis players in the local league. 8- FTT47 07/08/10 Hi Howard, FTT is a great initiative, well done. Small Improvement - Spell Check and delete the red and green underlines before despatch - it will look that bit more professional. Regards Phil Howard replies – yes, spell checking is fine for the computer that I use to Spell Check but when it gets to your computer, your Spell Checker kicks in and inserts the underlines. Re FTT46 Thanks. Always interesting and thought provoking Peter Hi Howard, Thanks for your email and FTT46. As usual the ETTA manages to make a simple procedure as complicated as possible! I tried to register as an ordinary member but, when you click on their site it only talks about Licences for national events etc., and mumbles something about ordinary members not needing a licence....but does not direct you to any other part of the site.....no wonder you publish FREE TABLE TENNIS NEWS! At least that does get to the point. I never did get the courtesy of an answer from Alex Murdoch about my suggestion for an Associate Coach System for us 'old folk' who were coaching before he and his cohorts were born. Kindest personal regards Tony TONY SHAPPS Howard replies – I have heard of people trying to register for Individual Membership over the internet being asked for a password. However, to be fair, it was quickly sorted and fairly efficient – although they are still waiting for their membership card (or whatever you get)
"Free Table Tennis 46"