Unlike the adjacent FA cup tie, Council had a lunchtime kick-off, meeting at 1pm in the Committee Room of the Hurlingham Club. With a shorter than usual meeting, the Chairman, Brian Shorney, kept up a brisk pace. There were a number of apologies, which avoided the need for musical chairs in the smaller than usual room.
Peter Death, the Treasurer, reported that the management accounts showed an adjusted surplus of about £800 for 2016, but a much larger budgeted deficit for the current year. Applications for development grants had increased again, and exceptional items associated with the transition to the new membership scheme are now expected to fall this year rather than last. He reported the good news that, despite the changes to membership categories, subscriptions paid by direct debit had compared favourably with last year.
Liz Larsson reported the launch of the new shop website, and that the first order had come from Sweden! She and her colleagues, along with Dave Kibble and Jeff Dawson, were thanked for the considerable extra work they had undertaken to support the membership changes and it was later noted that they would continue to be under pressure for some time to come while the new membership database was introduced. It is intended to appoint a new, full-time, member of staff to address this and succession issues.
Rather like an awards ceremony, John Bowcott's report from the Management Committee was taken in reverse order, saving the more contentious items till last, though a decision by the Handicap Committee to exempt Golf Croquet players with minus handicaps from keeping handicap cards if they played fewer than 10 handicap games a year attracted a number of adverse comments, fearing that it would give a bad impression to other players. The Committee argued that it was just recognising current practice, but it was asked to review the matter, and its implications for AC and the tournament regulations, at the end of the season.
A new revision of the Selection Policy was approved, the main changes being the harmonisation of policies for AC and GC events, following the introduction of the GC World Team Championships, and nationality conditions for Elite squads.
In the light of the widespread concerns about Safeguarding of children in other sports, an updated Safeguarding Policy for the CA itself was approved, with consequent changes to the model policy for clubs. The Chairman of Council will write to club chairmen about this, making the strong recommendation that clubs and federations should review their own Safeguarding policy, or adopt one if they have not done so, and appoint an officer to provide a point of contact for it.
The major debate was on a proposal to use some of the reserves that the CA has accumulated over recent years to appoint a National Development Officer, as a part-time post for up to two years, with the overall objective of growing the sport of croquet. Chris Hudson achieved this, in a post funded by the Sports Council, some thirty years ago. All those who spoke supported this in principle, mentioning various concerns over the details, recognising that although success was by no means guaranteed, and that, on a narrow analysis, such a venture would never be profitable to the CA itself, the potential benefit for its member clubs was considerable. The proposal was agreed and the Executive Committee was charged with filling the post.