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Free Table Tennis 46

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									     1-                                   FTT47                             07/08/10



            Free Table Tennis 47
                       ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE
                  ENGLISH TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION?
                                   Howard.middleton@yahoo.co.uk

                           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)

								
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