The latest person to express his dismay at the place is the ECF's Chief Executive, Andrew "Aintwortha" Farthing. In recent months, he has spent inordinate amounts of time, trying to defend himself and the Federation, from the many allegations levelled against it, including T-shirtgate, the Sheffield accounting fiasco, and, most recently, the arguments over the CAS court case in Lausanne. But he seems to be nearing the end of his tether, as witness yesterday's comment:
About half the Board chooses not to post on the forum at all, which is their choice to make. This is not always a pleasant environment. ECF officials have to take account of confidentiality, due process and the need to resist speculation; everyone else is much freer to offer opinions, insinuations and conspiracy theories without worrying about whether the facts support them.
I post here out of a sense of duty and the hope that it does some good. I'm not at all sure that after 13 October I'll want to stay a member.
It would be easy to sympathise with him over some of the drivel written recently, especially in relation to the CAS court case. But the problem is, Farthing only has himself to blame. Several years ago, the ECF Council, in a rare display of common sense, voted to sever connections between the ECF and the Forum, after it became clear that the termites had cost the ECF at least one major sponsor. But, a year or so later, the Board voted to reverse a large element of that decision, re-establishing relations between the ECF and the Forum, and allowing/encouraging individual directors to post on the Forum. Even if not technically ultra vires, it was a clear breach of the spirit of Council's vote. Even more importantly, it was spectacularly stupid.
I am told that Farthing has had a successful career in business management, and if that is so, he should know better. No responsible organisation allows its employees and/or officers to make unauthorised comments to the media, not even to respectable media outlets such as TV and national newspapers, let alone to a self-appointed, unofficial bunch of internet trolls. As CEO of the Federation, Farthing should have ensured that all public comments on behalf of the ECF were put through a competent, designated Media Relations Officer, with all other Directors/officers/employees of the Federation strictly forbidden to issue comments. That is how any responsible organisation operates.
I recall an example from my working days. A major client of mine was one of the first international companies to move its London offices out of the City to the then new site of Canary Wharf. A week or so later, the BBC sent a film crew down, to report on employee reaction. One unfortunate employee, who had popped out for a sandwich at lunchtime, had a microphone and camera thrust in his face, and was asked what he thought of Canary Wharf. He was unwise enough to mutter some mildly negative comment, to the effect that it was a bit of a dump and he would rather be in the City. The comment went out on the 6.30 BBC London evening bulletin. When he arrived at work next morning, he was dismissed on the spot, for unauthorised media comments - a tad harsh, perhaps, but an illustration of the seriousness with which responsible organisations take media relations.
Instead, Farthing has been naive enough to allow the ECF officers a free-for-all, with himself at the forefront. They stupidly try to interact with the termites, and to reason with them, instead of ignoring them totally. As my own experience shows, there is nothing that so annoys a termite as being ignored - witness the non-stop expressions of outrage from them, over my refusal to allow comments on this blog! Farthing has made a rod for his own back, and has no grounds for complaint, now that he is being flayed alive with it.
"When precisely did CJ first tell you about the CAS court case, Mr Christian?" (photo: bluejacket.com)