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Post by bundy Thu Dec 24, 2020 1:08 pm

President’s Message to Members and Supporters – December 2020

Now that we are at the close of the year and preparing for the Annual General Meeting of the club, I want to recognise the efforts of each and every person who has worked so hard to add value to Westies during what has been a very difficult time.

I want to thank members of the Board of Directors who have been steadfast in their determination to implement strategies that have set a clear course for the future. Vice President Mark Goddard, in his role as Finance Director, has been unmoved in making sure that we have set and achieved our financial goals so that we can remain strong and can fund a better footy structure. Derek Bonner, as Football Director, has created an environment which sets us up as a club of choice for potential new recruits. Marteine Edwards is forging new pathways as Membership Director and is proactively seeking better ways to make membership of Westies something to be valued even more. Nick Karasoulos, a Life Governor and our Commercial and Sponsorship Director, has brought sponsors closer to the club and has strengthened those important commercial ties that are so vital to Westies. Jacqui Rose has been relentless as our People, Culture and Governance Director in building a sustainable and accountable framework for the club so that it meets its goals today and leaves a permanent blueprint for club managers and directors of the future. Troy Abbott, also a Life Governor, in his role as Assets and Venue Director has ensured that the right advice has always been provided to the club in the development, maintenance and protection of our infrastructure.

Together, the Board has worked as a tight and effective unit, aimed at delivering the best possible outcomes for the club as a whole. Each Director brings a unique mindset and array of skills to the table, but the power of the Board has been the creative and respectful blending of those unique qualities into a well-considered and well-rounded decision making process.

Several times in the last couple of years I have heard people talk about us being a so-called “business board”. The implication is that we make decisions which ignore the fact that we are, first and foremost, a football club. It is implied that we are unable to make decisions which will have a positive outcome over our success or otherwise on the field. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, our Directors are passionately invested in ensuring that the club enjoys on-field success. Two of them, as noted above, are club Life Governors. The Board feels each lack of success deeply and works harder after each loss to find ways to improve. Personally, I find it insulting to the professionalism of all the individual Directors when it is implied that all they care about is making “business” decisions with no regard for the on-field success that we all crave. The last thing this club needs is unfounded comments which do nothing other than create the potential for divisiveness at Westies. We’re all in this together and I urge everyone to work together.

Particular thanks must go to our CEO Ben Hopkins. He has been a great leader of the club and has been single-minded and professional in the execution of his duties. He has always put the club first and has been instrumental in developing strong relationships with all its stakeholders. Thanks also to Ben’s loyal and hard-working staff – a very effective and tight team indeed.

I want to acknowledge the valuable support provided by SANFL. This is an organisation with whom we have been working together very closely. Westies are part of SANFL – without them we wouldn’t be who we are today. Their interest in the health and success of our club has been unwavering. The Board has enjoyed having Neil Matotek as a regular guest at Board meetings and his advice and assistance has been invaluable as we have been working towards common goals. I look forward to inviting Neil and other SANFL guests to future meetings.

As we prepare for the upcoming Annual General Meeting, I want to thank our outgoing Directors whose positions will become vacant in accordance with the terms of our club constitution. Nick, Jacqui and Troy have contributed so much over the last couple of years and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their work. They have been energetic and vibrant members of the Board. Nick and Jacqui will hand over their respective portfolios to the successful applicants who have applied to the nominations committee for recommendation, and Troy’s portfolio will be passed to the next member-elected candidate. All three have already expressed their desire to continue in roles that will support the club into the future and we thank them for that.

I know that 2020 has been a challenging year. Enough has been written about that already. Our focus now must be on making 2021 a success. Everything is in place for that to happen. We have a stronger, more robust platform from which to launch our campaign for next season. We must work together to realise the rewards that are just around the corner. As we contemplate the exciting prospects for next year, I wish you all a restful and enjoyable holiday period. I hope it brings you and your friends and families together in a spirit of peace and happiness.

Go Bloods.

Murray Forbes

President
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Post by bundy Thu Dec 24, 2020 1:09 pm

A great read.Very informative. Thank you Murray.
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Post by brodlach Thu Dec 24, 2020 6:45 pm

What a fantastic read


Love the fourth paragraph, glad he bought that up.
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Post by Lee Harradine Sat Dec 26, 2020 3:30 pm

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is enjoying the break.

I think The President’s Christmas Message deserves a considered response. First, Murray should be reassured he has the support of all Bloods’ fans. His success means the Club is succeeding, a win all round.

First, some positives. Given Gavin decided not to continue, I think the appointment of Brad Gotch will be a plus and the football department is doing what seems to be a good job at this early stage. I’m also pleased to see that brodlach has turned from a frequent critic of previous Boards and staff to a strong supporter, even almost a predictable cheerleader for the current Board. It’s almost as if he has a connection or is invested in some way, but that’s OK, it’s a pleasant 180-degree change.

Now to Murray’s message. It’s excellent to communicate with the members, but perhaps each message appears to be the same – that is, massive praise for the Board and each member, they work harder than any previous Board and all will be well before long. Unfortunately, there is rarely, if ever, any actual detail, just general motherhood statements of praise. Members would like detail and information that will give them optimism, not just to be told how wonderful the Board is.

When the previous Board of mainly long-serving West Adelaide loyalists was changed, the rationale was that the Board at that time wasn’t ‘business-oriented’ enough. The whole argument for the change was to have a business-oriented Board and it was subsequently entirely filled with business people, many of whom weren’t even West supporters until then. However, I haven’t heard one person suggest that any of the Board members didn’t have the sole aim of doing their best for West Adelaide – I’m sure they all have, so I think Murray is being a little defensive and over-sensitive about this, as well as effectively accusing some of 'unfounded' statements. This can have the effect of seeming to be a little payback and ‘them and us’ which is the last thing we need from the top.

Amid all the praise of the Board, it’s very disappointing that it was ‘appointed’ to turn the Club’s fortunes around and yet after only two years, perhaps only two of the original seven members may still be continuing. Why has this happened and what is being done to explain to the members why this is so? Again, another rationale for the change was to have stability, but we've seen the oppposite. Will new appointees from outside the Club also serve a short term and leave? Will the next Member-elected position be contested by another ‘appointed’ person with the Board’s backing? Will long-serving West members have any chance of election as a Member-elected person?

As I’ve said in my book, at most clubs constructive criticism is welcomed, but at West it is often seen as unacceptable and even an attack. Given our history, we shouldn’t be accepting the ‘next year everything will change for the better’ any longer(but still hope it will be) and members should be not only able to question, even criticise, without offence being taken, but be encouraged to do so for the greater good, so I hope the above and some more comments I will be making to follow this will be accepted in good faith.

Later, I’ll be making some comments about our trading operations and then about how the Club has dealt with a Life Member writing the first book on the Club for 34 years. The good news is that I printed 250 copies, it’s been critically acclaimed, the feedback I’ve had from so many members, past players and historians all around the country has been wonderful and it’s totally sold out, bar a few copies I’m keeping for special occasions. If I get any support from the Club, I will strongly consider a second print.

As I started, Murray and the Board have our whole-hearted support, so I hope they offer olive branches rather than be offended at members’ comments and the Club can go forward as one.
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Post by brodlach Sat Dec 26, 2020 3:48 pm

Is that a serious post?
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Post by aldo russian Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:41 am

I thought the same thing about the comments about it being a 'business board'. I thought it was an unnecessary swipe in a pre-Xmas message when there's so much positivity around the club at the moment. And, like Lee points out, it's a little churlish to appoint a board full of business people with little or no prior connection to the club and then complain when people describe it as a 'business board'. We all want the board to succeed but it is what it is.
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Post by bruce cameron Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:44 pm

aldo russian wrote:I thought the same thing about the comments about it being a 'business board'. I thought it was an unnecessary swipe in a pre-Xmas message when there's so much positivity around the club at the moment. And, like Lee points out, it's a little churlish to appoint a board full of business people with little or no prior connection to the club and then complain when people describe it as a 'business board'. We all want the board to succeed but it is what it is.

Lee and Aldo’s comments regarding Murray’s Message to Members are spot on.

We were told that the change to an appointed board was necessary in order to install board members who had specific skill sets and were experienced business, people. Their respective profiles reflected this. The nominations Committee required applicants to have one or more of the following skills:
Marketing, Venue Management, Infrastructure Development, Commercial Sponsorships, Member and Community Engagement, Online Engagement, Strategic Planning/People and Culture
Sounds like, looks like, smells like a business orientated board to me. As Aldo points out; It is what it is.

Referring to the Board as a business board is hardly unfounded. Furthermore, I fail to see how this can be construed as an attack on individual board member’s professionalism.

I think Murray is being overly sensitive, however, I’m more disappointed that he found it necessary to make these comments in a Christmas message to members, particularly at a time when members were excited Very Happy by the appointments of Gotch and Deigan and the roles played by Bonner and Siekman in signing several new recruits. Why dampen the enthusiasm? Crying or Very sad After all, the last thing this club needs is unfounded [unnecessary] comments which do nothing other than create the potential for divisiveness … [we must all] work together.


Go Bloods
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Post by Lee Harradine Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:49 am

Thought I'd discuss the use of our assets, namely our bistro operation.

This has always been a difficult area, with huge losses being incurred over many years until a few years ago.  CEO JOhn Kamtilaftas then contracted out the kitchen and we made profits for the first time for many years - small profits, but much better than the big losses we had been making for years.

Our previous CEO  then decided we should operate it ourselves, despite the history, and confidently stated that we would make large profits by doing so.  He was supported by several at the time, including the current Venue Director.  It was stated that we would have an up-market menu and serve 2,000 meals a week.

Let's forget this past year, given Covid, but before that the menu had been 'dumbed down' to absolutely basic pub food and the number of meals served had certainly not increased.

The quality of the food and service has not been high.
I attend a group who dine there each month and there have been many complaints.

Those with experience at the Club foresaw this, but were over-ruled.

I hope whoever takes on this area can reinvent the bistro so we can all enjoy dining there to help the club.
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Post by aldo russian Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:36 pm

Why has this been such a stumbling block for the club? People run cafes and bistros all over the country without losing tens of thousands of dollars a year yet we seem unable to.
A past President worked out that given how much we'd lost on the kitchen in one particular year, it would have been cheaper for the club to give every patron $20 to go and buy their dinner somewhere else. Insane.
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Post by Lee Harradine Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:47 pm

Just a few thoughts on the praise for the SANFL in each message. AFAIK West and South are the only clubs to have a SANFL 'observer' at each Board Meeting, as a condition of extra funding.

Given their role in facilitating the change of Constitution (IMO), I think our bottom position for the last two years was mainly due to their (again IMO) ridiculous decision to restrict our salary cap for several years. We saw the inevitable result of that.

I'm sure now that we have a different Chairman and CEO of the SANFL, we'll see a better approach, but IMO they deserve no praise for their previous actions which guaranteed us short-term failure.

The sooner we don't have a SANFL observer, the sooner we'll get back to running our own club without a SANFL observer and other SANFL personnel.

With the change at the SANFL and with Brad Gotch in charge, I llok forward to better things, but IMO it certainly won't be because of the SANFL.
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