AGM Resolution Update - Consultation Summary

AGM Res Update
At the 2017 England Hockey AGM clubs and associations were invited to vote on a motion put forward by member clubs (and supported by the England Hockey Board of Directors) to review the structure of the sport. A full history of the resolution and the work done prior to this point is available here.

This paper sets out the summary of the feedback received via surveys and letters after sharing the initial proposals for the 2020 England Hockey AGM.
Whilst this paper focuses on the survey responses gathered between July and October 2019 after the 10 Roadshows (plus a number of other meetings) held by England Hockey the feedback also takes into account a small number of letters received directly relating to the proposals.

Executive Summary
There was a good but not excellent number of responses to the survey. The open text responses extended to c2000 comments and 65,000 words of feedback from respondents on the proposals from a range of perspectives.

Based on the spread of respondents and the quantity, the results can be considered to represent a fair spectrum of views of the proposals across England. Comparing attendance at the roadshows and the survey it is clear that there are many clubs (perhaps as much as 50%) who still have, at best, a passive interest in the proposals or, at worst, a lack of awareness of the proposals. In a few cases there are also some fundamental misunderstandings that need clarification through further stages of the process.

The surveys indicated strong support for the following aspects of the proposal:
  1. Simplified structures – clubs, in particular, and many associations see the benefit of fewer bodies to deal with or pay money to. There was a lot of reference to technology being a significant issue for club administrators who are frustrated by much of the current provision.
  2. Good governance – clubs support the ability to influence decision making and expect greater transparency and better governance from some of the bodies that they currently work with.
  3. A common league rules framework has strong support from a large majority of respondents.
  4. The concept of a ‘fairer, more equal’ structure in terms of opportunities to progress is supported.
More work is required on some elements of the proposal:
  1. Umpiring structures require more work given the scale of change proposed and the wider challenges facing umpiring bodies that handle independent appointments.
  2. Balancing travel v competition standards
  3. Greater definition is required in terms of the proposals related to junior competition. Current structures are far more variable than leagues with some excellent practice in some areas and large gaps in others. In particular, the split of responsibilities between Areas and Sub-Area needs to be clearer.
  4. The governance of the Areas and Sub Areas needs to be carefully considered to strike the right balance between accountability and local direction versus national alignment.
  5. Whilst the initial scope excluded schools hockey the process for aligning the schools agenda with the proposal needs to be clear with appropriate associated timescales.
  6. Assets in existing organisations that are absorbed or dissolved need managing properly to ensure it is retained appropriately in the sport. In some bodies the amount in reserves is not known and this is a concern to clubs.
In terms of the change process the following points were made:
  1. Loss of voluntary resource is a concern in existing organisations. The change needs to be managed to encourage the retention of as many people as reasonably possible. Many respondents from clubs also referenced that delivering improvements in working practices (conference calls/technology) might help to attract them to other roles.
  2. Previous attempts to improve the use of technology by England Hockey were criticised by many respondents. A clear, deliverable, long-term plan needs to be demonstrated here.
  3. This is a significant change management exercise and needs to be well led with a clear implementation plan that is well managed.
  4. England Hockey’s capacity and capability to lead the change was questioned by some (but also supported by others). England Hockey needs to be honest about some previous failings and demonstrate that these have been taken on board in the approach.
Critical requirements for final proposal for clubs
  1. The detailed geography of league areas is required to help many clubs make a final decision.
  2. An implementation plan must be provided to convince people that the changes are deliverable in the time period.
  3. Financial information needs to be provided to convince many clubs that there is not an increased cost from this revised approach.
When asked what the respondents voting intention was the overall picture was 61% in favour and 19% against the proposals. The majority of abstentions referenced the need for more detail rather than disagreement with the principles behind the proposal. Clubs have significantly the largest share of vote at the AGM and 73% of respondents from clubs were in favour with only 15% against at this stage. The view of associations was more of abstention at this stage as more consultation was undertaken with 45% abstaining, 32% in favour and 23% against the proposal.

The level of support for the proposal in its current format, subject to further details in some key areas, indicates that the membership would like England Hockey to progress with the proposal.

The England Hockey Working Group will therefore work up a final proposal for consideration at the England Hockey AGM on 17 March 2020.

Clubs and associations will be able to vote electronically as well as attend the AGM in person. 

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