Phil Waugh is definitely a name that stands out among the record 29 candidates for this SCG Trust election but his winning one of the two seats on offer is by no means a certainty. 2010 preferential voting ballot results make this very clear but there is more to the story. If people still haven’t voted then they need to take action now and here is why;
The shear number of the candidates in field lend itself to some of the lesser known names cannibalising each other’s vote. This became very quickly apparent in the 2010 count where the result only became clear once the last candidate was excluded on preference reallocation and the two winners finally emerged being Ken Catchpole and James McNally. (Only James is running again in 2014.)
On the other side of the fence you have the high profile candidates (usually with extensive ex-international sporting pedigrees) who are not accustomed to having to campaign in order to get in the forefront of people’s view (read voters minds). The media is usually pursuing them.
The myth is that those ‘with profile’ and those ‘without’ are like oil and water. Never mixing and having no appreciation of what the other experiences when they attend an event or how they view their membership.
This is a simple “us versus them” concept to grasp and while it may be attractive to some, I think the reality is that people are not entirely so black and white. In my recent dealings with all the candidates I have found them all to be equally passionate and very accommodating and reasonable once you get to know them beyond the inadequate yet efficient 4 line bio they add to their candidates information sheet for voters to decide on.
But here’s the catch.
This SCG election is not compulsory and less than 25% actually bother to participate in what is a postal vote managed by the electoral commission of NSW.
The voting process has limited information about the candidates and the ability for ordinary candidates to reach out to other members to introduce themselves is limited to their own personal network. Cumbersome restrictions on viewing the membership roll exist.
This means you are entirely dependent on who you know and these same people acting where the adverse consequences of them doing nothing are NIL, or are they? Consider this;
“There are circa 18,500 members in the Trust but only 13,000 seats in the SCG.”
Depending on your perspective, the Trust is doing a brilliant job or a terrible job. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
When undertaking massive building works there is a need to prioritise. There are long term contracts in place to consider. External market forces (Homebush) into the mix and a lot of the simple solutions bandied around in the campaigns are not so simple after you scratch even the smallest part of the surface.
Take Homebush for example. Hombush pays for teams to play there, irrespective of gate takings. How do we get more teams back to the SCG and SFS outside of just paying money?
Membership fees are in excess $1,000 for what constitutes a ‘season ticket’ though for some it is essentially the 5 Day New Year Test and the AFL season (though you do not see too many of the approximately 2,500 Country members coming down for that!).
“To outsiders, the SCG trust is for the 1% but some are just hard core sports fans that choose to save for this one outlet.”
Some say there are people that just want to say they are a member of the SCG even though they never attend a match. Those falling into this unusual category are apparently as high as 10% of the membership.
To put this into dollar terms, this equates to as much $2m or more into the SCG Trust bank account from people that cannot or are note in it for the sport!
Why do they stay?
Well many don’t, but there appears no shortage of people to replace them with the now advertised 12 year waiting list to get on the membership roll.
In my view this is major contributing factor for why Management necessarily de-priortise grass roots member experience issues and are only voice is through the members we elect on Tuesday so we should not take it lightly. No matter how disillusioned some may have become.
“Once you have waited that long you do not walk away lightly.”
There are also Gold and Platinum memberships being sold at top dollar to put further pressure on seating at the big game or Test event days.
Platinum members pay big dollars per year for priority and this is possibly just one of the platinum memberships they hold.
The double edge sword here is that they DO know what world class standard is. Some of them are not happy too as you only have to read some of the angst on social media when they cannot get into the car park as they were promised because it is full on the only day they want to go.
But is not all bad news.
There is so much building works going out there at the precinct now and the signs are on the wall of just how good it could be but the question is will the ordinary member get lost in the mix.
We have two seats on the Trust Board and it is the role of these members representatives to listen to and advocate the members.
Critical in this role is being accessible to members and being able to influence them.
This brings me to the Phil Waugh.
The SCGvotes website often jibes at the ex internationals that regularly appear on the electoral card every 4 years as being out of touch with the ordinary members but I am not so sure we have Phil Waugh in mind when they say this as the video I created suggests.
Even Phil is dismissing his rugby pedigree as being enough to get him over the line in this election and I think at the back of his mind is a concern that his staunch supporters may not ‘get around to’ voting in time and as he does not strike me as a ‘campaigner’ that when the preferential votes are redirected over all 29 candidates it could literally go anywhere.
When people say to me that Phil Waugh (who I only met in the last two weeks I might add) is out of touch with ordinary members I can only draw on my experience and he emailed me back within 24 hours of my sending him an email and we spoke for an hour on his vision for the Allianz to be a premier rectangular field in the world. I mentioned that I was going out to he Waratah’s match and I might see him out there. There was no set meeting time. I just found him doing the passing competition with all the kids. (and yes he missed). After the match he was on the field with his kids with everyone else.
Candidates that already have a public profile can do a lot of good if they are actively representing their constituency. Furthermore, this election is by no means a lock that anyone will get there.
All I am saying, is that I reached out to as many candidates as I could. Phil Waugh is the only high profile ex-international on our humble website and that counts for something.
Now I am not about making up your mind for the vote here. I just recommend you go to the SCGvotes website and see them and decide for yourself.
I asks the question that if we have a candidate that can attract media attention in their own right but is still completely accessible by us as general members that cannot be a bad thing.
I would also argue that any of the other highly accessible candidates I mentioned on the website would be the same.
I am not convinced by this and from discussions with James McNally, that the high profile government trustees are that far removed from the ordinary person either. I believe that if our case is made loud and clear that even the high profile government appointees may be receptive.
Stuart MacGill previously ran for member election prior to being appointed by the government as an SCG Trustee so member sentiment was clearly important to him and I have heard on good authority that Alan Jones is one who will stand up at Trust meetings for what he believes in.
This is not about politics leanings, this is about sport and community building.
Soon we will need to stop thinking about “us versus them” and a big part of the SCGvotes website is to provide a forum built by members for members to ultimately get behind our chosen representatives and let them hear our voice for them to pass on at the meetings on our behalf.
There are at least 5 among the field that I think are ALREADY doing a great job and given what I have learned in the last two weeks, I suspect if any of these lose they will continue to do so but it is much easier to influence matters from inside rather than outside the meeting room.
This election is different to most in that it is not as much about ego and almost everyone in the 29 believes they have no chance of winning but are having a go anyway.
It almost works against us that there are so many in the field but after Tuesday we need to get behind whoever the two newly elected members are and spend the next 4 years making sure they are supported in their efforts.
Whatever the result, I intend to maintain the SCGvotes forum so people can share their views and we can improve matters. You are all welcome whether you are a member or on the waiting list or prefer general admission to join me.