What A Waste Of Time & Money

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What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Sam Armstrong on Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:11 am

So here we go again ... another load of legal correspondence from our misguided and, in my opinion, incompetent Board which can only lead to one outcome .... richer lawyers & solicitors!!!

The tail simply cannot wag the dog ... it never has before and it can't now.



Every other member of the RFL's Community Board seem more than happy to work with the RFL and are making great steps in developing the game in previously unexplored areas. However, at BARLA, the tie & blazer brigade, rather than doing something pro-active for the 1st time in 10 years they'd much rather seek to make their own positions seemingly more important at the expense of it's clubs and players!! What a waste of the Associations money.

Why, for once, can they not work "with" rather than "against" the sport's national governing body and thereby allow the benefits that the larger organisation can and has brought to the game to filter down?? Many of us know why ... why can't they face the facts and admit that they do too?

In most organisations, members are expected to support, in word and deed, the principles for which that organisation exists. If you join a club, you adhere to the membership rules. If you belong to a political party, you support that party’s philosophy so why, having agreed to join, now decide you want out? Understandable if you have something better to replace it with but, as highlighted in para 3 below, membership is already plummeting and there are now a greater number of amateurs playing outside the Association than in it.

Yes there will be those out there who cite me as someone in the above category but as I have repeatedly stated I do support the principles for which the Association stands but cannot support what I believe to be a self-promoting and negative Board.


Last edited by Sam Armstrong on Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Sam Armstrong on Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:11 am

The following is taken from the main BARLA website;
Lupton Fawcett wrote:In essence, the position of the RFL, as expanded in your letter, can, we believe, be succinctly summarised as follows:-

1 The RFL is the primary organisation charged with running both the amateur and professional game in the United Kingdom. It runs, or at least intends to run the amateur game through the Rugby League’s Community Board.

2 That BARLA has agreed to, or at least acquiesced in the Community Legal Board fulfilling the role of governing amateur rugby league by BARLA becoming a member of the RFL following the Genesis Report in 2004 and thereby agreeing to be bound by the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles, rules and byelaws.

3 That compared to the RFL, BARLA is a relatively young, fringe organisation that has sought to control amateur rugby league but now has an ever decreasing circle of members.

4 That BARLA is to have control over its members only in sofar as it is to be permitted to do so under the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles and Rules and to the extent that it is allowed to do so by the RFL.

5 That its own rules and procedures must comply entirely with the rules and procedures of the RFL by reason of its membership of the RFL.

6 That the RFL are entitled to procure that members of BARLA enter into direct agreements with the RFL under which the amateur associations and clubs agree to be governed by the RFL.

7 That BARLA should have no objection to the RFL imposing these agreements on BARLA members as BARLA have, in their view, not only approved these agreements but also can have no objection to the RFL contracting amateur clubs and leagues to abide by their Memorandum, Articles and rules as BARLA, by virtue of their membership of the RFL, have accepted that position.

8 That the RFL’s conduct is not a breach of the RFL’s constitution in that it does not constitute a breach of rule 92C which provides that BARLA and the RFL is separate organisations and the RFL do not have the power to amend the constitution of BARLA or to dissolve BARLA.

9 That there is not and never has been any form of agreement between BARLA and the RFL as to their respective roles with regard to the amateur game that BARLA can seek to enforce.
To me a fair summary, however ....
Lupton Fawcett wrote:The sovereignty of BARLA

One word which does not appear in the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles, byelaws, constitution or operational rules is the phrase "sovereignty of BARLA". That phrase is however repeatedly used in correspondence between BARLA and the RFL and in meetings that BARLA officials have attended when the Genesis Report, the Powers of the Community Board and the imposition of the affiliation agreements have been debated.
If by use of the word "sovereignty" the Board are, in fact, referring to their desire to be "unaccountable" to anyone then I seriously fear for the future of the Association - they are already seemingly unaccountable to their own membership.

BARLA were welcomed to the Community Board in the same way that the other bodies who manage the Students, Women's RL and HM Forces RL were whilst also retaining their "sovereignty" yet, strangely, they do not constantly appear to go head to head with the RFL. Could it be that these organisations are better run in a more professional and forward thinking manner by people probably more content for their players to benefit from the advantages the Community Board offers than their own self glorification?
By way of example, in a letter to Mr Neil Wood of Rugby League Services on 10 April 2007 Mr Allison stated:

"Rule 25-1 was the catalyst that brought about unification of the game and was fully supported by the Chief Executive of the RFL Richard Lewis and the BARLA President Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract".

In reply of Mr Wood stated, in the third paragraph:

"I never for one minute suggested or stated that the sovereignty of BARLA or any other group was altered. I agree that BARLA’s position is fully protected by the constitution of the RFL".

Further, in correspondence between BARLA and the RFL in a letter dated 13 November 2007 to which you yourselves referred in the second paragraph, Mr Richard Lewis, the Executive Chairman stated:

"Everyone at the RFL fully supports BARLA’s sovereignty and indeed we have devoted energy and resources to try and help BARLA go from strength to strength".

The Collins Concise Dictionary defines sovereignty as "supreme and unrestricted power".

Ironically, it was the Queen that officially opened BARLA’s headquarters at West Yorkshire House in 1990 reflecting the status that BARLA had acquired by that time as the sovereign of amateur rugby league. As I am sure you are aware, BARLA itself was formed in 1973 as a breakaway organisation as it did not consider that the amateur game of rugby league was being properly run by the RFL our client’s position is that the "sovereignty" of BARLA is to govern, administer and control amateur rugby league in the UK.
An interesting feature I found on Wikipedia states there are two types of sovereignty, "de jure" and "de facto".
Wikipedia wrote: De jure, or legal, sovereignty is the theoretical right to exercise exclusive control over one's subjects.

De facto, or actual, sovereignty is concerned with whether control in fact exists. It can be approached in two ways:

  1. Does the governing power have sufficient strength (police, etc.) to compel its subjects to obey it? (If so, a type of de facto sovereignty called coercive sovereignty exists.)
  2. Are the subjects of the governing power in the habit of obeying it?

    It is generally held that sovereignty requires not only the legal right to exercise power, but the actual exercise of such power. That is, "No de jure sovereignty without de facto sovereignty." In other words, neither claiming/being proclaimed Sovereign, nor merely exercising the power of a Sovereign is sufficient; sovereignty requires both elements.
Can the current Board honestly claim de facto sovereignty? If not then why pursue this seemingly pointless and potentially damaging and expensive issue?

Lupton Fawcett wrote:The role of BARLA

BARLA was created in 1973 as a breakaway movement from the RFL as it was considered that the RFL was not properly catering for the needs of the amateur game. We would suggest that there can be no doubt as to what BARLA’s function and powers were to be as these were approved and signed off by the RFL including David Oxley.

IN ESSENCE THE RFL’S CONDUCT IS NOW GEARED TO TRYING TO TAKE BACK, WITHOUT BARLA’S APPROVAL THE POWER THAT WAS APPROVED BY THE RFL ON THE FORMATION OF BARLA .

BARLA’s aim is to support the amateur grass roots of rugby league and their voluntary workers. Sport England placed a significant value on the voluntary work undertaken by those volunteers. BARLA embraced the creation of the Community Board and the involvement of the RFL in general in amateur rugby league as being in the best interests of its members given the resources available to the RFL and initiatives such as the Club Mark system on the clear understanding that BARLA’s overall ability to govern and control amateur rugby league would not be fettered. That is the clear basis on which BARLA has acquiesced in some of the initiatives brought in by the RFL.
Has anyone at the RFL denied support to amateur rugby league or it's voluntary workers? No, they have not, indeed it has actively helped find funding for many fine new clubhouses and facilities, it has provided additional training and support for volunteers and has subsequently far exceeded anything put forward in recent years by BARLA. Many Clubs have equally benefitted by the creation of the Clubmark scheme which has helped formalise roles, create clear paths and procedures for several dozen actions within the clubs and has created a legacy for those following the present incumbents of positions by providing clear and documented guidance on how to act and the responsibilities of the roles. Yes BARLA initially proposed many of these initiatives in it's heyday but sadly the BARLA Board has for far too long now been resting on it's laurels and developed little new preferring instead to constantly snipe at those who took up the baton and ran with it.
Lupton Fawcett wrote:Legal action to be taken by BARLA

We are instructed not to engage in a costly exchange of correspondence as to the merits of BARLA’s potential legal redress against the RFL for its conduct. We are instructed not to do so at this stage solely in the interest of minimising costs incurred by BARLA given its limited resources and by reason of the fact that BARLA hopes that as a result of this correspondence, a face to face meeting can be held between senior RFL and BARLA representatives to resolve the situation in the best interests of the amateur game and its participants.
Finally, something that makes sense, however, if the Board don't get all their own way and a bag in which to put it are we really to be expected to believe that this will be the end of the expensive legalities??
Lupton Fawcett wrote:The way forward

You will appreciate that BARLA remains of the opinion that it is the appropriate organisation to govern and control amateur rugby league. BARLA was created due to dissatisfaction with the manner in which the amateur game was being run by the RFL. BARLA has always considered itself to be acting in the best interest of a body of community amateur sports clubs and leagues serving their local communities.
Yes there was initially a need for an autonomous BARLA but times and the game have moved on and we should embrace evolution and the lift up that the RFL can offer us.
Lupton Fawcett wrote:BARLA remains of the opinion:

(a) that the RFL is not the appropriate organisation for governing amateur rugby league as it is primarily a commercial organisation influenced by its commercial partners in particular BSkyB;

(b) that the RLF is not interested in grass roots rugby but rather seeks to control the amateur game as a feeder to the professional game and that the RFL has a policy that encourages elitism which is a fundamental concept that BARLA strives to avoid.
Ask anyone involved in junior grassroots rugby where they feel they get the most support from and I'm afraid the Board may be in for a bit of an eye-opener!! Everyone is aware of the ties with Sky in the same way that the FA is and has, however, that income has allowed them to promote the game to a far greater audience leading to increased participation rather than the insular M62 corridor mentality of our Board. What steps have the Board taken to embrace all the new clubs in new and developing regions? To cite elitism is also astounding as the Association seemingly appears to many of us to exist these days solely to organise & tour with umpteen "elite" squads ... indeed it is the only subject on which subscribers to this forum are almost guaranteed a reply!!

Lupton Fawcett wrote:It is BARLA’s position that the RFL and BARLA can resolve this situation in the best interests of amateur rugby league. It acknowledges that the RFL have brought in several useful initiatives that BARLA has allowed to be passed in the belief that it is in the best interests of its members and based on repealed representations that BARLA’s sovereignty would be preserved. BARLA believes that rather than the RFL seeking to erode BARLA’s sovereignty that the RFL would be acting in the best interests of the game and amateur rugby league in particular:

(a) if the RFL were to embrace BARLA’s sovereignty and allow BARLA to continue to govern amateur rugby league without BARLA being required to ensure that its constitution complies with the RFL’s constitution and in particular that its rules and procedures comply with the RFL’s rules and procedures.
Should we not all be singing from similar hymnsheets? Why should the BARLA Constitution not be guided by the Governing body's?
Lupton Fawcett wrote:(b) if the RFL desists from requiring amateur organisations to be bound by the RFL’s constitution, rules and laws but rather sends a clear statement that amateur rugby league shall be governed by BARLA in the UK. This would allow the community board to develop initiatives with the input of BARLA that are in the best interests of the game;
How about instead of being a persistent thorn in the side of development of the game the Board embrace the concept of the Community Board and be pro-active in it's development to cover ALL aspects for ALL amateurs?
Lupton FFawcett wrote:(c) funding is funnelled through RFL into the amateur game under the guidance of BARLA, this will preserve the autonomy of BARLA to govern the amateur game in the best interests of the amateur game without the often conflicting interests of the professional game interfering.
The Board have seemingly proved several times that they do not truly have the financial acument to control funding in a capable manner and to talk about "conflicting interests" when the majority of it's own District Leagues are funded predominantly via their "cut" of professional signing on fees is nothing less than total hypocrisy.
Lupton Fawcett wrote:Given your primary submission that BARLA is not only itself governed by the RFL due to its being a member of the RFL and that in being a member it acquiesces in the RFL binding amateur organisations to its rules, that would no longer be an argument if BARLA were to reverse the unification brought about by the Genesis Report. Sport England may then consider that the RFL do not rightfully lay claim to governing the amateur game in the United Kingdom. It is certainly anticipated that the All Parliamentary Group will lobby to that effect if BARLA’s proposals are not agreed. Such a course of action would be regrettable and a drain on the resources of both organisations.
What a farcical and backwards thinking threat. Does the Board not consider that it may be BARLA themselves who lose the support and funding of Sport England if they were again try to splinter off? The Association is, due to the incompetitence of recent Boards, in almost terminal decline and poorly thought through threats are highly unlikely to endear them to a new audience nor help increase membership.
Lupton Fawcett wrote:Therefore we reiterate our client’s proposal for a face to face meeting to be held to discuss the matters raised by this chain of correspondence and reach a resolution that is in the best interest of amateur rugby league in the United Kingdom.

We would therefore be grateful if, when responding to this letter, you would make arrangements for a meeting to be held between representatives of BARLA including its Chairman, Mr Spen Allison and representatives of the RFL to resolve this dispute.
And if they are again corrected and told that they must play nice like everyone else will they again spit out their dummies, kick the toys out of the pram and revert to it's previous negative role as the tail trying to wag the dog?

For crying out loud, ask the membership if this is how they truly wish their money to be frittered away or if they'd prefer to see it used in a far wiser and more beneficial manner!!! Wake up and smell the coffee, we are no longer in the same situation we were in 1973, we have a far more professional body in the current RFL and we need to embrace and become a contributing part of it before it is too late for the Association.

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:32 am

Hello Sam,

I think that in fairness, you should have posted the whole of the BARLA letter on your thread, not just a few cleverly selected paragraphs in an attempt to present a strong case.

And to bear in mind that the letter was the response to Karen Moorhouse's (RFL In-House soliciter) seven page response to BARLA's initial letter complaining of the partnership agreement.

That response - which contradicts the RFL's unification agreements and promises - provoked this letter.

Dear Sirs

Our Client - British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA)

Thank you for your letter of 8 May 2009. We acknowledge that you have responded to our communication of 22 April 2009 in some detail and we trust you will appreciate it has taken some little time for our clients to fully digest and respond to the matters raised in your correspondence.

Overview

In essence, the position of the RFL, as expanded in your letter, can, we believe, be succinctly summarised as follows:-

1 The RFL is the primary organisation charged with running both the amateur and professional game in the United Kingdom. It runs, or at least intends to run the amateur game through the Rugby League’s Community Board.

2 That BARLA has agreed to, or at least acquiesced in the Community Legal Board fulfilling the role of governing amateur rugby league by BARLA becoming a member of the RFL following the Genesis Report in 2004 and thereby agreeing to be bound by the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles, rules and byelaws.

3 That compared to the RFL, BARLA is a relatively young, fringe organisation that has sought to control amateur rugby league but now has an ever decreasing circle of members.

4 That BARLA is to have control over its members only in sofar as it is to be permitted to do so under the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles and Rules and to the extent that it is allowed to do so by the RFL.

5 That its own rules and procedures must comply entirely with the rules and procedures of the RFL by reason of its membership of the RFL.

6 That the RFL are entitled to procure that members of BARLA enter into direct agreements with the RFL under which the amateur associations and clubs agree to be governed by the RFL.

7 That BARLA should have no objection to the RFL imposing these agreements on BARLA members as BARLA have, in their view, not only approved these agreements but also can have no objection to the RFL contracting amateur clubs and leagues to abide by their Memorandum, Articles and rules as BARLA, by virtue of their membership of the RFL, have accepted that position.

8 That the RFL’s conduct is not a breach of the RFL’s constitution in that it does not constitute a breach of rule 92C which provides that BARLA and the RFL is separate organisations and the RFL do not have the power to amend the constitution of BARLA or to dissolve BARLA.

9 That there is not and never has been any form of agreement between BARLA and the RFL as to their respective roles with regard to the amateur game that BARLA can seek to enforce.

It is appreciated that if we have accurately summarised the RFL’s position, BARLA is of the view they have been deliberately misled as to the RFL’s intentions by people at the most senior level within the RFL. We should add that that view is endorsed by amongst others Lord Lofthouse and others within the All Parliamentary Group.

The sovereignty of BARLA

One word which does not appear in the RFL’s Memorandum, Articles, byelaws, constitution or operational rules is the phrase "sovereignty of BARLA". That phrase is however repeatedly used in correspondence between BARLA and the RFL and in meetings that BARLA officials have attended when the Genesis Report, the Powers of the Community Board and the imposition of the affiliation agreements have been debated.

By way of example, in a letter to Mr Neil Wood of Rugby League Services on 10 April 2007 Mr Allison stated:



"Rule 25-1 was the catalyst that brought about unification of the game and was fully supported by the Chief Executive of the RFL Richard Lewis and the BARLA President Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract".


In reply of Mr Wood stated, in the third paragraph:



"I never for one minute suggested or stated that the sovereignty of BARLA or any other group was altered. I agree that BARLA’s position is fully protected by the constitution of the RFL".


Further, in correspondence between BARLA and the RFL in a letter dated 13 November 2007 to which you yourselves referred in the second paragraph, Mr Richard Lewis, the Executive Chairman stated:



"Everyone at the RFL fully supports BARLA’s sovereignty and indeed we have devoted energy and resources to try and help BARLA go from strength to strength".


The Collins Concise Dictionary defines sovereignty as "supreme and unrestricted power".

Ironically, it was the Queen that officially opened BARLA’s headquarters at West Yorkshire House in 1990 reflecting the status that BARLA had acquired by that time as the sovereign of amateur rugby league. As I am sure you are aware, BARLA itself was formed in 1973 as a breakaway organisation as it did not consider that the amateur game of rugby league was being properly run by the RFL our client’s position is that the "sovereignty" of BARLA is to govern, administer and control amateur rugby league in the UK.

In your letter at the second paragraph on page 6 you state:



"I would add that the RFL does not understand the reference in your letter to "infringement of the RFL’s sovereignty (or similar) nor how they relate to the 3 claims made in your letter. Unless and until you clarify these references, the RFL will continue to treat them as irrelevant".


For the sake of clarity, the RFL’s sovereignty is to rule unfettered by the RFL over the amateur game in the United Kingdom. There can be absolutely no doubt that RFL representatives repeatedly assured BARLA that BARLA becoming a member of the RFL, that creation of the community board the circulation of affiliation forms to BARLA members and the creation of the U18 League would not affect BARLA’s sovereignty. Your letter makes it absolutely clear that the RFL’s intention is to entirely eradicate BARLA’s sovereignty. In essence the RFL intends to achieve that by the following three means:

(a) the obligation on BARLA to ensure that its constitution, laws and rules shall comply with the RFL’s by reason of BARLA’s membership of the RFL;

(b) by the creation of the Community Board to oversee all aspects of amateur rugby league;

(c) by the imposition of the affiliation agreements forming a direct contractual link between amateur clubs and leagues by the RFL and requiring those entities to comply with the RFL’s rules and procedures and to be directly controlled by the RFL.

We would respectfully draw your attention to minutes of a meeting at Red Hall on 18 November 2002 where BARLA raised concerns as to the effect on BARLA’s constitution of unification where the RFL stated:



"It is understood that BARLA will remain a separate entity with its own constitution and will remain responsible for the running of those areas of the game THAT IT DOES NOW. THERE SHOULD BE NO AREAS OF CROSSOVER."


Your main argument appears to be that BARLA has agreed to the assignment of its sovereignty to the RFL by reason of BARLA becoming a member of the RFL thereby agreeing to be bound by the RFL constitution which gives the RFL sovereignty over the amateur game to the RFL. That is notwithstanding the clear representation by the RFL to BARLA that unification would not have that effect. That is akin to a lawyer advising a client their fees will be fixed at £500 then relying on the client care letter stating the fees will be £1,000.

In the notes of a General Assembly Meeting on 29 September 2003 Mr Richard Lewis, no less, made the following statements:



"The proposal guarantees BARLA’s sovereignty and a restructured Rugby Football League constitution will have no impact on BARLA’s sovereignty. All constituent bodies, including SLE, BARLA, APC, The Student Rugby League, English Schools etc whilst part of the reconstituted RFL Council and would continue to manage their own area of activity just as they do now.


Exchequer funding from Sport England would continue to be allocated to BARLA via a funding application that in a single governing body scenario would be submitted to Sport England by the Rugby Football League - ie - exchequer funding would be ring fenced for BARLA in the application".
"Richard Lewis reiterated that BARLA would not be absorbed by the Performance Department or the Development Department. Richard Lewis noted there were no hidden agendas."



"BARLA and the RFL will retain their separate identities but BARLA will become a member of the RFL. The fact that the Board of the RFL has day to day management and control of the business of the RFL does not impinge on BARLA directly at all".


These statements entirely contradict the RFL’s stated position in your letter and in hindsight appear to be akin to Oliver Cromwell assuring Charles I that his actions were not intended to affect his sovereignty whilst signing his death warrant.

In the papers that we have seen, we have seen reference to the conduct of Rugby League Services whilst occupying the same premises as BARLA at West Yorkshire House, all of which pointed to a predetermined plan to erode BARLA’s sovereignty.

The role of BARLA

BARLA was created in 1973 as a breakaway movement from the RFL as it was considered that the RFL was not properly catering for the needs of the amateur game. We would suggest that there can be no doubt as to what BARLA’s function and powers were to be as these were approved and signed off by the RFL including David Oxley.

IN ESSENCE THE RFL’S CONDUCT IS NOW GEARED TO TRYING TO TAKE BACK, WITHOUT BARLA’S APPROVAL THE POWER THAT WAS APPROVED BY THE RFL ON THE FORMATION OF BARLA .

BARLA’s aim is to support the amateur grass roots of rugby league and their voluntary workers. Sport England placed a significant value on the voluntary work undertaken by those volunteers. BARLA embraced the creation of the Community Board and the involvement of the RFL in general in amateur rugby league as being in the best interests of its members given the resources available to the RFL and initiatives such as the Club Mark system on the clear understanding that BARLA’s overall ability to govern and control amateur rugby league would not be fettered. That is the clear basis on which BARLA has acquiesced in some of the initiatives brought in by the RFL.

Legal action to be taken by BARLA

We are instructed not to engage in a costly exchange of correspondence as to the merits of BARLA’s potential legal redress against the RFL for its conduct. We are instructed not to do so at this stage solely in the interest of minimising costs incurred by BARLA given its limited
resources and by reason of the fact that BARLA hopes that as a result of this correspondence, a face to face meeting can be held between senior RFL and BARLA representatives to resolve the situation in the best interests of the amateur game and its participants.

The way forward

You will appreciate that BARLA remains of the opinion that it is the appropriate organisation to govern and control amateur rugby league. BARLA was created due to dissatisfaction with the manner in which the amateur game was being run by the RFL. BARLA has always considered itself to be acting in the best interest of a body of community amateur sports clubs and leagues serving their local communities.

BARLA remains of the opinion:

(a) that the RFL is not the appropriate organisation for governing amateur rugby league as it is primarily a commercial organisation influenced by its commercial partners in particular BSkyB;

(b) that the RLF is not interested in grass roots rugby but rather seeks to control the amateur game as a feeder to the professional game and that the RFL has a policy that encourages elitism which is a fundamental concept that BARLA strives to avoid.

It is BARLA’s position that the RFL and BARLA can resolve this situation in the best interests of amateur rugby league. It acknowledges that the RFL have brought in several useful initiatives that BARLA has allowed to be passed in the belief that it is in the best interests of its members and based on repealed representations that BARLA’s sovereignty would be preserved. BARLA believes that rather than the RFL seeking to erode BARLA’s sovereignty that the RFL would be acting in the best interests of the game and amateur rugby league in particular:

(a) if the RFL were to embrace BARLA’s sovereignty and allow BARLA to continue to govern amateur rugby league without BARLA being required to ensure that its constitution complies with the RFL’s constitution and in particular that its rules and procedures comply with the RFL’s rules and procedures.

(b) if the RFL desists from requiring amateur organisations to be bound by the RFL’s constitution, rules and laws but rather sends a clear statement that amateur rugby league shall be governed by BARLA in the UK. This would allow the community board to develop initiatives with the input of BARLA that are in the best interests of the game;

(c) funding is funnelled through RFL into the amateur game under the guidance of BARLA, this will preserve the autonomy of BARLA to govern the amateur game in the best interests of the amateur game without the often conflicting interests of the professional game interfering.
Given your primary submission that BARLA is not only itself governed by the RFL due to its being a member of the RFL and that in being a member it acquiesces in the RFL binding amateur organisations to its rules, that would no longer be an argument if BARLA were to reverse the unification brought about by the Genesis Report.

Sport England may then consider that the RFL do not rightfully lay claim to governing the amateur game in the United Kingdom. It is certainly anticipated that the All Parliamentary Group will lobby to that effect if BARLA’s proposals are not agreed. Such a course of action would be regrettable and a drain on the resources of both organisations.

Therefore we reiterate our client’s proposal for a face to face meeting to be held to discuss the matters raised by this chain of correspondence and reach a resolution that is in the best interest of amateur rugby league in the United Kingdom.

We would therefore be grateful if, when responding to this letter, you would make arrangements for a meeting to be held between representatives of BARLA including its Chairman, Mr Spen Allison and representatives of the RFL to resolve this dispute.

Yours faithfully

Lupton Fawcett LLP

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Sam Armstrong on Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:15 am

Hammer

I assure you it was not selectively edited other than due to the forum not actually allowing me to post the entire document and my responses too and apologise if anyone thinks it may have appeared so.

I think you will find that there is, in fact, very little missing and certainly nothing which has perhaps been missed with an intentional desire to mislead.

The crux of the matter is that the Association is no longer the force it was and for it to succeed, and perhaps now even survive, we need to embrace the evolution of the game and it's structure(and recognise the improved empathetic role that the RFL now plays in it).

Sadly our Board is currently seemingly unable to grasp that concept instead reverting back to type with "bunker mentality" and pointless pursuit of "sovereignty". As I discussed in my previous post it is, in essence, no good calling yourself King if you have neither the resources, respect of your subjects or wherewithal, to in fact, rule.

BARLA due to failure over recent years to embrace the growth of the game in new development areas has meant, sadly, it has been pretty much left behind and now no longer truly reflects or represents the whole amateur game, but, under the umbrella of the Community Board the whole amateur game IS represented and the only way we can hope to move forward is to recognise this new role for BARLA as a team player and move onwards and upwards.
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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:36 am

Well Sam,

I accept that your editing hid no sinister motives and appreciate that I may have raced to the wrong conclusion – even though I managed to post the whole of the document – of that you were trying to mislead, that having been said, let’s move forward.

I think I assume rightly that through your regular posting on this forum, that you do feel there is a need for BARLA, but you highlight the crux of the matter as the association being no longer the force it was and for it to succeed. While recognising the need to move forward, let’s refresh our memories, or inform as the case may be for a few people and track back in the archives six years or so.

Among the many initiatives that BARLA brought to the game, I consider the biggest achievement was to open the passport to public money which benefitted the game at grassroots for many years. Those clever, professional, people at the RFL identified these monies as a massive income stream and so, after three decades of not needing and predominately turning it's back on the amateur game, suddenly - for the RFL - that need arose. So began their plans to secure the Sport England monies, in the form of The Genesis Report and the so called unification of the game.

It may just be coincidence that after many years of financially running in the red, with the introduction of unification, the Rugby Football League was able to show a profit on their balance sheet for that year and onwards.

Next thing Sam, after Lupton Fawcett’s appeal for face to face talks between RFL and BARLA, you seem to rubbish this positive approach with your throw away comment,

“And if they are again corrected and told that they must play nice like everyone else will they again spit out their dummies, kick the toys out of the pram and revert to it's previous negative role as the tail trying to wag the dog.”

Quite the opposite Sam, as, immediately after the RFL had secured sole charge of all public funding aimed at the grassroots of the sport, they determined that BARLA had served its purpose as an organisation and began their policy of airbrushing the association’s very existence from being and far removed from the tail trying to wag the dog, you’ll find its much more akin to severing the dog’s tail, deemed to be no longer of use.

Basically Sam, if the RFL had kept its word and Exchequer funding from Sport England did continue to be allocated to BARLA, via a funding application that in a single governing body scenario that would be submitted to Sport England by the Rugby Football League - ie - exchequer funding would be ring fenced for BARLA in the application" as claimed by the RFL that would be the case, then I’m sure that there would have been less friction between the two sides.

And let me draw your attention to your paragraph Sam which reads,
“Does the Board not consider that it may be BARLA themselves who lose the support and funding of Sport England if they were again try to splinter off?”
Not only did BARLA immediately lose the support and funding of Sport England with the advent of unification, the association actually supported and funded the RFL by allowing the Rugby League Services (previously known as BARLA Services) to operate rent free at West Yorkshire House. This figure would amount to around £100,000 in wavered rent charges.

In fairness Sam, the board at present does seem to leave room for improvement and the bunker mentality which you use to describe the board’s actions has probably developed over the past six years of broken promises and falsities from the RFL.

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Sam Armstrong on Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:48 am

Hammer 13 wrote:I accept that your editing hid no sinister motives and appreciate that I may have raced to the wrong conclusion – even though I managed to post the whole of the document – of that you were trying to mislead, that having been said, let’s move forward.
Thank you Hammer, no offence taken, I am assuming that the difference in the ability to post the whole thing was was possibly due to the addition of my responses which may have increased the post size and meant that it needed to be split into two.

Hammer 13 wrote:I think I assume rightly that through your regular posting on this forum, that you do feel there is a need for BARLA, but you highlight the crux of the matter as the association being no longer the force it was and for it to succeed. While recognising the need to move forward, let’s refresh our memories, or inform as the case may be for a few people and track back in the archives six years or so.
Again, thank you for recognising the fact that I, genuinely, do believe that there is a role for BARLA and also for reiterating my admission and acceptance of the fact that many of the initiatives we now see being run were initially proposed and instigated by the Association.

I don't think that anyone has ever truly tried to claim the ideas as solely RFL initiated but I do say, and this may be due to the funding points you raise, that the RFL have seemingly not sat back and accepted the initial ideas as the finished product but have instead embarked on a process of continuous improvements meaning that the products we have now are far improved on the initial concept.
Hammer 13 wrote:Among the many initiatives that BARLA brought to the game, I consider the biggest achievement was to open the passport to public money which benefitted the game at grassroots for many years.
I fully agree with you.
Hammer 13 wrote:Those clever, professional, people at the RFL identified these monies as a massive income stream and so, after three decades of not needing and predominately turning it's back on the amateur game, suddenly - for the RFL - that need arose. So began their plans to secure the Sport England monies, in the form of The Genesis Report and the so called unification of the game.
Perhaps a tad cynical (listen to me .. the pot calling the calling the kettle black!!) but not being party to the information regarding financial matters from the period before Genesis (something I originally felt was a bad thing btw) I can neither confirm nor deny your contention.

Hammer 13 wrote:It may just be coincidence that after many years of financially running in the red, with the introduction of unification, the Rugby Football League was able to show a profit on their balance sheet for that year and onwards.
Again I am not sufficiently au fait with, nor have I looked into, what other financial streams were in the professional/amateur game at the time which may have just coincidentally have come to fruition at the "right time" but that is a good point you make and I accept it may be down to unification with our amateur game.
Hammer 13 wrote:Next thing Sam, after Lupton Fawcett’s appeal for face to face talks between RFL and BARLA, you seem to rubbish this positive approach with your throw away comment,

“And if they are again corrected and told that they must play nice like everyone else will they again spit out their dummies, kick the toys out of the pram and revert to it's previous negative role as the tail trying to wag the dog.”

Quite the opposite Sam, as, immediately after the RFL had secured sole charge of all public funding aimed at the grassroots of the sport, they determined that BARLA had served its purpose as an organisation and began their policy of airbrushing the association’s very existence from being and far removed from the tail trying to wag the dog, you’ll find its much more akin to severing the dog’s tail, deemed to be no longer of use.
I genuinely do not perceive the RFL's increased involvement in the grassroots game as solely there to airbrush out BARLA. I do, however, feel that their actions did ultimately have a commercial bias as they would have recognised that there is mileage in the phrase "catch them while they're young" and that to have these young children interested in the game from an early age would ultimately lead to increased numbers of spectators at professional level as they, originally, drag Mum & Dad along before eventually taking their own children.
Hammer 13 wrote:Basically Sam, if the RFL had kept its word and Exchequer funding from Sport England did continue to be allocated to BARLA, via a funding application that in a single governing body scenario that would be submitted to Sport England by the Rugby Football League - ie - exchequer funding would be ring fenced for BARLA in the application" as claimed by the RFL that would be the case, then I’m sure that there would have been less friction between the two sides.
After it all seemingly going so swimmingly this is where I have to disagree with you and whilst I accept that the wording reads BARLA the paragraph I believe it should instead have read "for the benefit of the amateur game". If this wording were substituted then I am of the opinion that they have not reneged on that commitment.
Hammer 13 wrote:And let me draw your attention to your paragraph Sam which reads,
“Does the Board not consider that it may be BARLA themselves who lose the support and funding of Sport England if they were again try to splinter off?”

Not only did BARLA immediately lose the support and funding of Sport England with the advent of unification, the association actually supported and funded the RFL by allowing the Rugby League Services (previously known as BARLA Services) to operate rent free at West Yorkshire House. This figure would amount to around £100,000 in wavered rent charges.
I still stand by my comment in that, as the Association has failed to embrace and welcome the new developing regions, it no longer represents the WHOLE amateur game and therefore is now sadly, as previously alleged, a fringe organisation and, as such, would inevitably receive reduced funding. I accept that RL Services were indeed hosted at WYH by the Association but whilst they were possibly not paying rent (again I am not fully conversant with what agreements were in place) there is equally a high likelihood that the services that they offered and supplied the Association with and the wages that the Association were no longer paying offset most, if not all, of those waivered charges.
Hammer 13 wrote:In fairness Sam, the board at present does seem to leave room for improvement and the bunker mentality which you use to describe the board’s actions has probably developed over the past six years of broken promises and falsities from the RFL.
A pro-active Board is what we now need. Yes I accept the minutae of the agreements use the word BARLA but ultimately it is not specifically the Association that we need to thrive ... it's the amateur game itself (as a whole) and I, for one, would rather that they accept this new role and focus their attention on what they were once the best in the world at i.e. developing world class amateurs with their grassroots knowledge rather than just focussing on the, comparatively, unimportant pursuit of titles & sovereignty
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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:00 pm

Sam,

It seems that we are not a million miles apart with our thoughts. A pro-active board is a definite must and maybe then it would be encouraging to think that if the amateur game itself thrives, the association could thrive along with it. But for this to happen, some sort of compromise is needed and from both sides.

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:59 am

Hello Sam, I realise that we left the debate on almost amicable terms but there are still many points left to be concluded, points which are still very much up in the air and open to argument. So let’s begin …

Sam you wrote,

“I still stand by my comment in that, as the Association has failed to embrace and welcome the new developing regions, it no longer represents the WHOLE amateur game and therefore is now sadly, as previously alleged, a fringe organisation and, as such, would inevitably receive reduced funding. I accept that RL Services were indeed hosted at WYH by the Association but whilst they were possibly not paying rent (again I am not fully conversant with what agreements were in place) there is equally a high likelihood that the services that they offered and supplied the Association with and the wages that the Association were no longer paying offset most, if not all, of those waivered charges.”

You’re absolutely right Sam, BARLA no longer represents the whole of the amateur game, but that's not by their own choice. I would however contest the description of the association being a fringe organisation, as well wide of the mark and I would like to put forward some explainations as to its demise.

For informational purposes, let’s take another little stroll down ‘Memory Lane’, but this time we only need to meander back three or so years.

BARLA has always welcomed the RFL’s attempts in the development of the game nationwide – although you may notice that it’s extremely, summer orientated. However, when the regions targeted for development include; the hotbed, heartlands of the game at any level, areas such as, Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire and when ‘development’ begins to infringe on and become detrimental to existing, long established leagues, using the same players and in some cases the same clubs under a different name, that’s when problems do begin to arise and a suspicious eyebrow could be raised.

The winter summer crossover caused all sorts of lasting problems with the introduction of a summer development league, with at least four of this summer league’s elite division’s clubs originating from winter leagues and a couple more being no more than a conglomerate of players from winter leagues, and the subsequent lengthening of the summer season, ensured that there was a substantial overlapping of the winter summer leagues.

These were RFL initiatives which directly and deliberately, encroached upon the already thriving, established, areas or heartlands as they are commonly known. Did someone at the RFL get their geography dramatically wrong, or were these ‘development initiatives’ pitched in, mischievously as a gauntlet, aimed to splinter BARLA’s membership and an attempt to force the amateur game, along with its professional cousins to summer.

Remembering the fact that the majority of these ‘initiatives’ emerged from BARLA’s guests in West Yorkshire House, the rugby league services. Yes guests Sam, they were there rent free, their wages were and still are paid with Sport England money and their role was then as is to this day; to serve, support and facilitate by administering the whole of the game, not just work for BARLA to ‘offset the wages’.

And as you write Sam, Yes I accept the minutiae of the agreements use the word BARLA but ultimately it is not specifically the Association that we need to thrive ... it's the amateur game itself (as a whole)” Absolutely right on both counts Sam. First and foremost, I unreservedly agree that we need the whole of the amateur game to survive, but I firmly believe that the, ‘RFL's robbing Peter to pay Paul development mentality’ is doing very little to foster unity within the game. Secondly and maybe well worth considering, the minutiae of the agreements are worded with the word 'BARLA'. Ask yourself, was it worded specifically that way by the RFL, to deliberately mislead?

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by mick doyle on Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:49 pm

Bloody Hell SAM has your mawd fell out wi thi lad Very Happy

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by ManchestersBest on Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:45 am

To wade into the middle of this whole debacle, it comes to a very simple matter. BARLA does not appear to have the “greater good” of Rugby League as an amateur sport in mind. Its support to smaller clubs which are outside of the “heartlands” is very poor and most clubs genuinely feel that the RFL is the only one making positive headway. The RFL’s growth of Manchester is a key area where there has been little or no support from BARLA whereas The RFL has offered advice, funding and genuine concern in the lack of Rugby League in such a huge city. I am concerned that BARLA seem to be only looking after BARLA’s interests and not the Rugby League communities needs. This has led to a number of large Public Relations nightmares where BARLA have appeared to openly threaten the RFL/ the NWC’s and various clubs when they have disagreed with BARLA’s course of action. This type of attitude of “my way or the highway” will not wash with the majority of clubs and unless BARLA re-organises at the top level and understands the negative image it has projected of itself it will continue to be viewed as an aggressive association. Where BARLA to come to the table with open minds willing to listen to the various district leagues/clubs and their concerns I would consider this some headway. To challenge the RFL is truly foolish as the RFL is the overall governing body of our sport and has provided far more support and direction for clubs in the last 3 years than BARLA have ever done. A lot of damage has been done to BARLA, I suggest some of the board members take a real hard think about their actions over the last year and drop their aggressive stance and come to the table with the rest of the Rugby League community instead if seeming to be a thorn in the side of our sport.

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:42 pm

Welcome aboard M.B. although I’m sure that you were searching to use the word debate and not debacle as you have in your opening sentence.

Yes, it may appear to some as it obviously does to you, that BARLA does not appear to have the “greater good” of Rugby League as an amateur sport in mind. And up to some extent I’d say that for a time the association has taken its collective eye off the ball and have sometimes been guilty of not addressing the issue. That said the RFL itself is often guilty of possessing a memory that refuses to bridge a five year span. This has often led to an amount of unnecessary, friction between the two organisations which would probably account to your number of large Public Relations nightmares.

You say that BARLA’s support to smaller clubs which are outside of the “heartlands” is very poor and that most clubs genuinely feel that the RFL is the only one making positive headway, well M.B. the latter part of that sentence is absolutely correct.

With unification and the handing over of the Sport England funding (which I must add included any monies that would have been destined for BARLA to use for development) and indeed were then charged with the development of the whole game, within and outside the so called heartlands. And quite the contrary to what you are claiming as lack of support by BARLA because in the RFL’s own words, in the document entitled, “Rugby Football League Limited Application for National Governing Body Funding 2009 – 2013” BARLA are clearly listed as a partner in the ‘Grow’ chapter of the document and are listed again as partners in the ‘Sustain’ chapter. Should this then be believed, or could it be argued that the RFL are deliberately attempting to mislead people (Sport England) in order to acquire a fantastic some of money. And bearing in mind that on the back of the RFL’s acquisition of £29.5 million pounds of taxpayers’ money, they should expected be making slightly more than just positive headway.

So can you enlighten us on whether these ‘smaller non heartlands clubs’ that you purport BARLA as ignoring are indeed members of the association, or are they the new summer hybrid clubs - who actually are receiving RFL funding – and are actually made up from players who are already playing in the winter game and tell us in which way were they not being supported.

Again it’s unclear as to if you yourself are with a club and if that club is a member of the association, but with your statement where you write, “Were BARLA to come to the table with open minds willing to listen to the various district leagues/clubs and their concerns I would consider this some headway.” I can only assume that you are either not with a club, or if you are, the club is not a member of the association.

I say this because you seem unaware of the bi-monthly open age forums where the members (various district leagues) come together to debate. Now you have been informed of these occurrences I’m sure that you will concede that BARLA are indeed making headway.

I also think though that you close with a winner when you say, “A lot of damage has been done to BARLA, I suggest some of the board members take a real hard think about their actions over the last year and drop their aggressive stance.” And yes I’m in total agreement with you on this - BARLA has been damaged, with a lot of damage coming from within. My opinion is that the, “Engage brain then talk method” needs to be implemented and applied. But what is also required is the cessation of the constant sniping and knocking of BARLA. It’s apparent that there are individuals and organisations that would rather throw scorn at the state of which the association has reached, showing haste to offer their opinion on what they see as the inevitable demise and ultimate collapse of BARLA. From this it also becomes clear that people care enough to be critical of the association, so why on earth don’t people concentrate their efforts in an attempt to repair the organisation that has brought so much to our great game - or would the challenge be too great.

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by caldwellowl on Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:08 pm

Quick reply, I'm not going to drag my clubs name through the mud, but

1. it is a junior club outside of "heartlands rugby league"
2. Since its formation, we have recieved no support/converations/anything to say BARLA even exists anymore. We have had contact from NWC 8-12's/The local SL club and The RFL despite not actually contacting any of them directly to request support. I have no idea who to contact in BARLA?!?
3. I am critical as I have seen the last 2 major announcements from BARLA come across as playground name-calling (The RFL partnership and Hilary Steele)

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Re: What A Waste Of Time & Money

Post by Hammer 13 on Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:39 pm

caldwellowl,

A quick reply indeed and may I add clear, accurate and brief.

It's encouraging that you have had contact/support from the North West Counties, your local Super League team and the RFL, however if you are a member of BARLA it is totally unacceptable that you have no idea of how to get in touch with the organisation.

As for you being critical of the announcements from BARLA, I do not buy in to the name calling, if there are issues let's front them.

A couple of things do puzzle me slightly however, if as you say you did not make contact with the above organisations directly, how would these in turn know how to contact you and what if any, is your plight.

For your information I will list some contact details;
Tel: 01484 510682 - email; info@barla.org.uk website; www.barla.org.uk

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