1-8 FTT51 18/01/11
Free Table Tennis 51
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE
ENGLISH TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION?
Welcome to the New Year. December proved a disappointment to many members with the
weather disrupting the league programme, tournaments and national competitions so let us
hope that the remainder of the season flows more successfully. Friends in Australia tell me
that their club is underwater whereas we can resume when the roads are free of snow and
ice. Commiserations to our Australian friends and readers.
Individual Membership continues to be a problem issue with some leagues having to chase
members for their I.M. numbers. Affiliated members should not play competitive table tennis
against non-affiliated members so league players could be in breach of the rules if there are
non-members in their league, whereas prior to this season all members of a club were
automatically ETTA members.
YOU’VE GOT TO LAUGH!
Members complaining to Alex Murdoch about the problems of Individual Membership receive
an assurance that he understands their problems as his wife has the same problems in her
capacity as secretary of a local league and a county official: however Alex offered no advice
Now in the latest Electoral Role issued by the ETTA we see that Mrs Murdoch’s league did
not complete the paperwork correctly on time so have no voting rights. Furthermore that
applies to all the leagues within the county for which Mrs Murdoch is the National Councillor.
If the Chairman’s wife does not receive the advice necessary to complete the Individual
Membership returns then it does not say much for the advice given to people who raised their
concerns with the chairman.
So do you really understand the problems and concerns of Individual Membership, Alex?
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I DON’T BELIEVE IT, MR MURDOCH…. SAYS VICTOR MELDREW
The ETTA National Council is being asked to put a Rule Change Proposition to the 2011
Annual General Meeting extending the term of Office of the ETTA Chairman, Deputy
Chairman and Treasurer from two years to four years in line with the Olympic cycle.
Personally I believe that the most important tournaments in which England participate are the
World and European Championships, and that the Olympics are not so important in
competitive terms. Also, from a spectator viewpoint, I would prefer to attend the World or
European Championships rather than the Olympics.
I have been contacted by a number of National Councillors who are amazed at this proposal
as they have been given no explanation of the reasons behind the proposal. In fact, they
believe that Alex Murdoch is attempting to sneak the change through in a very underhand
England does not participate in the Olympics, Mr Murdoch: the players represent Great
Britain. There is a British Olympic Table Tennis Association which has its own chairman and
So please explain why you should have a four year term of office, together with your Deputy
Chairman and Treasurer. I have not heard that the other Home Countries attempting similar
WHAT NEXT FOR ALEX? Asks John Prean
In my last notes I predicted that Alex would resign as Chairman of the ETTA after the
Olympics. He will be re-elected in the present year of 2011 mainly because no one else
wants the job and he will yet again be unopposed. This will keep him in office until the
summer of 2013 by which time a long period of inactivity and low achievement will have taken
its toll. This view is shared by some close to him who talk to me from time to time. The
overwhelming majority of the members have lost interest. Their involvement is confined to
local league matters. Their only contact with the ETTA is to pay their annual tax, something
called membership fees.
If again no opponent appears, Alex may yet continue. He will then be well into his seventies,
but at this rate of activity and action that will be no handicap for him. It may be that someone
will appear, either Alan Ransome or a new figure in which case Alex would probably be
defeated and he will not wish to risk that, recalling his last contested election Europe when
beaten so heavily by an unknown gentleman from Russia and a lady from Denmark.
Although most voters take little interest, they know that things have gone very wrong.
Some seek consolation in what may be good news. Perhaps a bronze medal in the
Commonwealth or yet another grant from the taxpayer via the sporting quangos that rules
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There is no future without a new chairman. There remains, of course, the strong chance that
he is the wrong man, but it is difficult to imagine that he will be less effective than Alex.
The latest brainchild from our Rulers is a new rule. This would ban from the main office or
management committee any member with trade connections i.e. conflicts of interest. It is
stated that the I.T.T.F., the international governing body, has such a rule, indeed has had for
a very long time. I myself long ago proposed such a rule at an ETTA Annual General Meeting
when Alan Ransome was chairman. However, in defeat, I did not note any of the present
management on my side, still less chief executive Richard Yule or Alex himself or indeed the
sporting quango of the day.
Today all are said to be in favour, indeed, if we do not vote for this sudden change, the
quango will not give us any more money. So it is threatened. I am not sure whether this
would be a great loss. The finance brings us mainly a large staff we do not need and a
national team that usually loses. I recall days when most money was earned via sponsorship
and promotions and as a result the visibility of Table Tennis was much greater and one could
feel some pride in what was being achieved.
It is not clear whether Charlie Childs, a member of the management committee and in charge
of Coaching will be sacrificed due to his trade interests. In the main the move seems directed
at Alan Ransome who is at this time the only possible candidate for ETTA Chairman in
addition to Alex Murdoch.
One asks why this has so suddenly appeared on the horizon. I have little doubt that in any
future contest Alex would be defeated due to his dismal record. What, after all, has he done
for the members? The long decline of our national teams adds regular depression. The
current move will add only contempt. Everyone will know what this is all about.
I understand this was raised in National Council where the usual silence and lethargy could
be noted. Alan Ransome was out of the room, as it was raised under “trade matters” when he
is quite properly absent. But it is hardly a trade matter. It was a rule change directed at one
man, currently the only one who might stand in any election against the present chairman.
Whilst the matter is one that deserved discussion, I do not like how this was done. There is
now so little that the present E.T.T.A. has to offer a sponsor that the issue has become a very
small one. I know what is going on and so do many members. There are more who take little
interest, but things can and will be explained to them and this is only a start to expose what
seems a very strange plot, something that we knew about for decades. Why the sudden
activity? The answer does little credit to Alex and those around him. They will pay a heavy
price in both respect and self-respect as this matter is debated and daylight emerges
You can see the Cheltenham League website on www.ctta.co.uk and you can download Free
Table Tennis from this site. FTT can also be found on www.tabletennisuk.info
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THERE WAS A TIME when the E.T.T.A. produced an ETTA Handbook every season
that was distributed free to every club. The Handbook was an invaluable source of reference
with information about the ETTA and results of all the ETTA competitions.
If you wanted to know the winners of the National Team Competitions; winners of the English
Open, English Closed, World and European Championships – there it was in an easily
available format in the Handbook.
As the years progressed the Handbook grew in size, so for economic reasons it was decided
that it would not be issued annually. In its place the ETTA issues an Address Directory but
we were promised that the Handbook would continue to be produced.
Well, the last ETTA Handbook was produced in 1997 to coincide with the World
Championships in Manchester. Still a great read but it is a bit dated.
So come on E.T.T.A., let us have a new updated Handbook. May I suggest that it is issued
to celebrate the 2012 Olympics?
Comments upon previous reports
Thanks for the circular. Talking about declining leagues and how do we know. Alex visited
our league last year and we raised the problem of locating a local club on the ETTA Table
Finder. To enter a club one had to sign up and it wasn’t that easy. Hardly any clubs were on
there. Two from our league at that time. I asked Alex how many leagues there were country
wide and why we can’t access that data which surely is not a matter of national security, but I
got no definite answer. Also it would be good to know how many players are registered with
the IM system, and available to all, names in (but not addresses) leagues played available for
all to see, why not?
Wayne Glossop has started some time ago a nationwide site which any league can use free
of charge for results. Surely this could be done by the ETTA, or perhaps the ETTA should
recommend him as they seem to be not very good with the website!
Paul Pells West Essex TTL.
Howard responds –
I quite agree that the Table Finder on the website is a problem. I do not understand why it
does not provide better information considering the number of staff that we now employ.
Even Scotland, Wales and Ireland TTAs provide better websites.
Your endorsement of Wayne Glossop’s website is noted.
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Although it’s been a long time since I last contributed I continue to read FTT in the hope that
it becomes a more balanced publication.
The “Alex Murdoch is Running Scared” (in FTT50) article tends to perpetuate the propaganda
that if Alan Ransome were Chairman of the ETTA a conflict of interest couldn’t exist because
the Trade Committee exists. What Englishman or Englishwoman hasn’t suspected some
inequitable activity around the selection of Russia as the host for the 2018 World Cup
Finals? Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA, says that isn’t the case. Do we believe him?
The Trade Committee is claimed to be the mechanism that distances Alan Ransome the
Chairman, from Alan Ransome the businessman. So just because this is claimed to be the
case it makes it true, does it? Let’s not be naive, nobody can deny the potential for Alan
Ransome the businessman, to be able to influence the Trade Committee in its contract
negotiations whilst maintaining an air of distance and impartiality from those negotiations.
Now, I’m not suggesting that is or ever has been the case, I’m just pointing out that just
because something is put in place claiming to achieve a certain outcome, doesn’t mean that it
can’t also be designed to give a particular false impression.
There is in my mind an obvious conflict of interest if Alan Ransome were re-elected Chairman
of the ETTA. This isn’t about what he does or doesn’t do; it’s about the perception of risk.
There is a perception that there is a risk that in acting as Chairman his decision making could
be biased in favour of his own business interest and against attaining the best possible deal
for the ETTA. If he is unable to demonstrate beyond any doubt that this cannot be the case,
then he should, as laid down by the ITTF, be barred from holding such a position whilst that
conflict of interest exists.
I have spoken to Alan on this very topic and he has made the same claims about the Trade
Committee as were made in FTT 50. As an ordinary member of the ETTA, if I can’t be
persuaded that there is no risk, how does he expect to adequately deal with the concerns of
the various ETTA funding partners? The other point you make about things being
satisfactory with the creation of the Trade Committee in 1991, doesn’t mean that in 2010 the
same applies. There is far more competition from other NGBs for funding and therefore to
obtain funding NGBs have to be politically correct and beyond any kind of reproach or
suspicion, along with this the process of obtaining funding is immensely more rigorous in
2010 than it ever was in 1991.
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In my conversations with Alan in the run up to the last election for Chairman he expressed his
aspirations to develop table tennis in England, which I commend. However I asked him, if he
didn’t get elected as Chairman would he work with Alex to bring those aspirations to fruition,
and his reply was an emphatic “No”. So I asked myself, if he really wants to be Chairman
more than his desire to develop our sport, what’s in it for him? I then come back to his
business interests! Whether my fears are unfounded or not, a risk is being perceived and
Alan’s actions and comments do nothing to suggest those perceptions are unfounded. Alan
has to prove beyond any doubt that no risk exists and until he does this, real concerns will
exist around the potential conflict of interest he would bring to the role of Chairman of the
ETTA. Alan Ransome would undoubtedly bring a lot to the table as Chairman, however this
cannot happen whilst he derives income from his business interests associated with the sport
of table tennis.
Member of the ETTA
Howard responds –
The balance of FTT is very dependent upon the people who contact me with questions and
opinions and those who write items for inclusion in FTT. I am quite prepared to give anyone
the space within FTT to give opinions together with their reasons. Some people have written
to me stating that Alex has done a lot of good things, but then not responded when I have
asked for examples of those good things. This contrasts with Table Tennis News which only
proclaimed the official viewpoints.
I quite agree that Alan’s ‘trade interests’ have always been a contentious issue and
something that I believe is a valid point in many members’ opposition to his suitability for
My main question in FTT50 was the reason for the change expressed by Richard Yule.
Fifteen years ago, Richard was adamant that the Trade Committee prevented any conflict of
interest when he stated that a Government audit had been undertaken. Now, at a time when
Alex Murdoch’s chairmanship is balanced perilously on the brink, Richard has completely
turned around in what he is stating.
However, Alan is the most experienced person as a player, coach and administrator in this
country. Yes, he has run a successful business for over forty years but that has never
prevented him putting in many hours on behalf of our Sport.
I believe that we all want our Sport to grow, improve and prosper: also I do not believe that
we will all agree on the best method to achieve that aim. Once we achieve the growth in
numbers playing table tennis then ALL the traders will reap the benefits as well as the ETTA.
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Thank you for FTT50.
You will have seen my deliberate use of "apparent" in my mention of increasing member
numbers. In your haste to shoot down a positive view expressed for the Chairman and his
volunteer staff you appear to have overlooked this and have somewhat illustrated the point
made by another contributor to FTT50 on negativity. There was no comment on the positives
in my submission.
That is a pity, because it rather took the shine off what you had to say, which I shall be taking
up with the ETTA, because I do not like the thought of being misled by them and one of their
number mentioned the increase to me.
In fairness I would not be surprised if you were proved right on decreasing membership,
because that would certainly be in line with my experience in 3 local leagues, all of which are
struggling numerically - one almost to the point of extinction.
This contrasts with my Club experience where we continue to grow and numerically, including
seniors, juniors and non league players, we are probably larger than any of the 3 leagues
referred to above.
This would seem to indicate that the real problems at grass roots could do with closer
attention. Perhaps that will start to become a focus when ETTA has finalised a robust IM
system and will then know its base of paying Members. What will not be apparent is the junior
and non league playing numbers.
What is apparent is the seemingly large number of employees at ETTA HQ and I would
respectfully suggest that more prioritisation of time and money is directed towards grass roots
would be appropriate and of major benefit to our sport.
Regards, David Humble
Howard responds –
The number of Affiliated Teams is 2007/08 – 7070, 2008/09 – 6896, 2009/10 – 7018.
The number of Affiliated Leagues is 2007/08 – 239, 2008/09 – 234, 2009/10 – 236.
To qualify as an ‘Affiliated League’ the league had to pay the affiliation fee AND insurance by
the qualifying date of 15th November. If they were late, or had only paid the affiliation fee,
they were excluded from the above figures.
The number of Affiliated Teams has been confirmed by Alex Murdoch and John Dignum,
hence my comment that the increase in Affiliated Teams for 2009/10 was purely based upon
the low figures of the previous season.
I am uncertain about your comment regarding junior and non league playing numbers. The
junior (affiliated) leagues are included on the ETTA Electoral Roll and therefore the number of
teams and members are known. Are non league playing numbers actually ETTA members?
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If they are members of PremierClubs then their numbers are included on the paperwork that
is completed and sent to the ETTA.
The Word document or pdf are equally fine for me.
As regards playing up to 21 points or 11 points games, our local league provides both, with
open age rosters being 11 point games and veteran rosters to 21 point games.
Championships are played with 11 point games.
Personally, I find the 11 point games are not as enjoyable and less tactical, and a nightmare
in doubles with the constant player and scoring changing. I think ITTF would have been
better, as a compromise, to change to games of 15 points with 3 serves each.
It would be interesting to survey your readers on this subject, and also the topic of time length
of roster nights. Locally we operate to finish within 2 hours (2 players-a-side with 4 singles
and a doubles) and this has been readily accepted by all standards of player. Gone for us are
the 11.30pm finishes in the middle of winter.
All the best for 2011.
Howard says – Thank Geoff, your weekly report is always interesting.
Good evening Howard
FTT50 asked “What do you want?
Someone has asked that “FTT be produced in .pdf format rather than the current Word
Document. It can be done, so would readers please advise their preference.”
I can read either so no preference from that point of view but pdf format might make quoting,
cutting, and pasting a little more difficult and I can’t open pdf’s on my phone whereas I can
open Word ones so on balance stay with Word please.
Neil Le Milliere
Howard says – Thanks Neil. Good point about the phone. There has not been a response
from anyone preferring the pdf format!