OPINION: Economy not responsible for clubs’ failure

DON’T blame the economy. The reason for registered clubs failing to thrive has little to do with the prevailing economic conditions. 

The challenge for clubs is a lack of talent at board level. 

Just because a person has the confidence and support of club members does not mean they have the skills and experience to hold a board position.

The skilled directors needed by registered clubs have careers and businesses to manage and show little interest in the petty politics that club management entails. 

The well-managed club knows how to control operating costs and attract the clientele required to deliver a modest trading profit. 

Another contributor to club failure is the rapacious banker, happy to lend money in proportion to the collateral value that offsets the risk. 

If the club goes broke, the loan is covered with the sale of assets that have taken decades to accumulate. 

This goes back to board level delusion when directors stop practising responsible club stewardship and become speculators and entrepreneurs. Spending other people’s money is a lot of fun. 

There is often a siege mentality in some club boardrooms. 

When the turnover crashes, directors hunker down and, rather than soliciting professional help, try to cure the problem themselves.

 One club located near me refuses to permit club members to review the minutes of board meetings: so much for management transparency. 

Last financial year they wrote down more than $250,000 in failed real estate speculation.

 Needless to say, their financial state is parlous. That pesky economy again.   

Members also play a part by resisting attempts to address the needs of younger members. 

The unwelcoming glare of seasoned members who have been ‘‘drinking in this club for 30 years’’ doesn’t help. 

The loss of regular club entertainment because of the extra work for the duty managers and added cost of security doesn’t help. 

Younger members aren’t the enemy, they’re the club’s future and it’s vital to engage with them.

Registered clubs can reinvent themselves if they want to. 

Look no further than the success of Stockton Bowling Club, rescued from the precipice of insolvency by a group of successful local business professionals. 

They guided the club back into profitability and hired good people to keep it that way.

 If we want clubs to prosper we must change the management structure from the top down and ensure directors have completed suitable training.

 The question that remains is who has the stomach to endure recalcitrant directors who blame everything but themselves for their club’s trading failure? 

Hardly an inviting prospect for the most desirable candidates.   

Mike Ryan is a technical copywriter who lives in the 

Hunter Valley.

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