A total of 55 delegates representing 31 County RAs attended this year’s CRA Meeting held in the impressive new surroundings of the De Vere Village Urban Resort on the outskirts of Solihull.
As well as many old friends, we were particularly pleased to see 8 delegates who were under the age of 25, although we would have liked to see a much greater number of these younger referees (who had an average age of just 20) from amongst those CRAs who were present – but it’s a start!
The Meeting began with Paul Field (RA Treasurer) giving a focussed recap of what had happened in 2014, and then outlining our plans for 2015. The last section before lunch covered the major topic of “Value for Money?”, i.e. what benefits RA members receive for their annual subscription of £12.
Of particular importance was the planned roll-out in the near future of the new 3-year Development Strategy Plan. Details were still being finalised ahead of Board approval being agreed at the end of January 2015, after which full details would be circulated to everyone.
One suggestion was the introduction of a Young Person’s Reference Scheme, whereby a Certificate would be awarded to certify that a young referee had taken on an Officer position at their LRA and had successfully completed a set period (say 12 months) in that role. Such a document could be added to that referee’s CV and presented to potential employers at a time when there are big problems in youngsters finding jobs to start them on their career ladder.
Head Office costs had fallen from 51% of membership income in 2010 to just 11% currently, with a further reduction to just 6% envisaged by 2016. In the same period, spending on “adding value” (e.g. investment in support and training materials, plus the RA-FA Youth Council and its activities) had risen from 10% to 23%, with a further increase to 33% planned by next year.
The sale of our old Head Office at Unit 12 had put us in a very sound financial position. Paul’s aim was to maintain the robustness of that position in the long-term by ensuring best use of those funds in the overriding interests of all our members.
The afternoon session kicked off with a vibrant and upbeat interactive presentation by Tom Bowkett and Ollie Williams from the RA-FA Youth Council, before Paul Field gave an insight into the main theme of the day, namely “CHANGING the PERCEPTION”, which aimed to show that the RA really could offer “Something for Everyone”.
Please note: also attached are all of the slides from all of the presentations made by both Paul and the Youth Council team during the day. Not only will these save me rattling on at length in this report and probably boring your rigid in the process, but you will be able to digest at your leisure all the facts, figures and other detailed information which we hope will be of interest to you and your members. Please feel free to use these slides as you wish for LRA/CRA/CFA and/or any other purposes.
The day was completed by a lengthy “Have Your Say” session where all delegates could ask whatever questions they wanted on any RA-related topic, and various RA Board members gave what were hopefully satisfactory answers. By the end, the delegates in the room confirmed that there were no outstanding queries that they had been unable to raise on the day!
Topics covered included:
- whether the RA should purchase another office or lease premises instead;
- suitability of our current new Headquarters for RA use and purposes;
- how the funds from the recent sale of Unit 12 should best be used and/or invested;
- optimum level of coverage at RA Head Office (currently around 20 hours per week);
- ways in which the RA can become more relevant to referee development;
- additional benefits for younger referees (e.g. the proposed Reference Scheme);
- the possibility of an RA Development Fund to go alongside the RA Benevolent Fund;
- marketing materials that could be provided by the NRA to LRAs and CRAs;
- possibly moving the AGM from its traditional Friday afternoon slot to Sunday morning;
- the need for more frequent communications from HO (little and often);
- avoiding County FA events clashing with LRA or CRA evenings;
- the various ways in which members can obtain kit from Sporting Touch;
- best practice on those sad occasions when a LRA decides to disband;
- LRAs spending money on revival attempts rather than making donations;
- vote-of-thanks to Ian Davies for his invaluable work before his Board retirement;
- Board nominations need to encompass a wider range of experience and expertise;
- we need to get younger members on to the RA Board to more reflect our current membership;
- how to revive interest in the RA National Quiz, plus possible changes to the Final;
- the make-up of the RA-FA Youth Council and how it operates;
- the need for younger members to get involved at all levels: LRA / CRA / NRA;
- LRAs should carefully review the venue/content/timings/style for Branch Meetings;
- examples were given of LRAs who had been very successful in boosting membership;
- all LRAs and CRAs must conform to the Rules of the National body;
- the role of CRAs and their working relationships with their CFAs;
- overall approval by attending delegates of the lunch provision and arrangements.
Please note: no decisions were made about these matters on the day, but all the feedback received will help the Board to best formulate future RA policies. Any actual developments going forward will be communicated in a timely manner to all members. Watch this space!
The Meeting closed with an expression of thanks to Tom and Ollie from the Youth Council, plus especially to Paul Field for the incredible amount of time and effort he had put in to organising both the content and presentation of the whole event at Solihull.
Feedback since has been very positive indeed, with many delegates appreciating the more focussed “tell it like it is” style that was adopted on the day. Some harsh realities were conveyed and more than a few home truths were expressed! The RA still has some way to go in respect of turning things round, but this latest CRA Meeting seems by general consent to have been a very good start.