SRU extends consultation period for Gammell report

Council and Board to meet next month as opposition grows to proposed governance changes

Sir Bill Gammell
Sir Bill Gammell at the launch of his report in December. Image: © Craig Watson.

IN A tacit admission that the Gammell Report has met with widespread opposition, the SRU has announced an extension of the consultation period in which clubs can ask questions and offer their responses to the document which has recommended radical reconfiguration of the governance structure of Scottish Rugby.

While the report was presented as a matter of urgency and the aim was to requisition a special general meeting this month, in order to vote on it in its entirety in February or March, this morning’s announcement to clubs makes no mention of an SGM. Instead, a joint meeting of the Scottish Rugby Board and Council will be held next month as a “key component” of the further consultation with clubs and other interested parties.

The report, presented by joint authors Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray last month, proposes far-reaching changes which would decrease the direct influence clubs can have on the SRU executive. It was suggested then that the report would have to be voted on in its entirety rather than being subject to amendment. Now, however, the prolongation of the consultation period makes it clear that, if the report is ever put to a vote at all, it might now be subject to extensive revision.

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The statement, released to club representatives this morning, reads:

“The Board and Council of Scottish Rugby would like to thank Sir Bill Gammell and Mr Norman Murray for their Independent Review of the Governance and Business Review of Scottish Rugby.

“They have made a number of recommendations on the way forward.

“The Review and Recommendations are as previously noted under Consultation with feedback and questions coming in from member clubs until at least 29 January as the President has stated and noted in ‘Clubs Comms’ previously.

“The Board and Council acknowledge the commitment and dedication which has supported the Review and the time spent by everyone who has given their input.

“Board and Council are especially grateful to all Clubs and members who have taken the time to digest this significant Review and provide feedback so far.

“At this juncture the Board and Council wish to acknowledge that more work and time is needed beyond 29 January to ensure that further consultation is carried out ongoing with Member Clubs.

“A key component of this work will be a Joint Session of Board and Council in February, following which a further update will be provided to member clubs on next steps.

“The Board and Council once again pass on their grateful thanks to all those who have, and are supporting this important process. “

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About Stuart Bathgate 1394 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. Dodson did a good job at cutting costs and getting things back on an even keel, just as he did at the Guardian. However now the need is to increase participation and spectators much like Formula 1 did, and for that he’s no Bernie Ecclestone. Someone like Nathan Brombys has a much more convincing CV, which does raise some questions about self interest in these proposals. In talking to others in the region I picked up some common themes which I have summarised below, many as points that other clubs may wish to take up with their council members.

    1. The issue of liability would suggest that the clubs could be liable for any indebtedness that the executive might incur. The limitations on who is liable for what and how the various organisations are interconnected needs much more clarity.
    2. There should be some limitations on what the executive can do, red lines if you will. e.g. Mortgaging the stadium should require approval of say 75% of the clubs.
    3. There appears to be an assumption that the current paid employees will automatically assume the leadership positions in the new executive. If the current structure is not fit for purpose then logically the individual roles are unlikely to map directly to roles in the new organisations.
    4. All roles, and especially that of the CEO and CFO should be advertised and the existing leadership invited to apply.
    5. The current contracts held by the current leadership should be terminated if and when the current structure ends.
    6. Appointments to the proposed executive should be made by an appointments body which would include representatives of the clubs, those representatives not to hold any other roles in the SRU. Compensation of any new executive to be ratified annually by the AGM as in any public company.
    7. The current council and its immediate predecessors have failed to hold the executive to account, have not provided the necessary transparency required by a sports governing body, and have provided little in the way of feedback to the clubs. Consequently a new independent (of the executive) body that can hold the executive to account is required.
    8. The SRU must publish and maintain an organisational chart incuding all permanent and contract staff.
    9. The SRU must cease the use of zero hour contracts and short term contracts. Staff working with clubs must be able to act for the clubs without fear of losing their livelihood.
    10. Local development officers cannot coach or play rugby as club member. They cannot assess the strengths of the clubs they represent if they cannot visit the clubs they are directly responsible on match day or at training due to commitments to a club. Regional development officers must not be used as a means of supporting a semi-professional player.

  2. I accept that the current means of club representation at the SRU top table – basically via the SRU Council – has been of limited value. The Council is supposed to scrutinise the decisions of the Board but in reality has little power to influence or change things. That I think was alwaus the intention of the Dunlop report, to create a rather toothless forum that would represent member clubs but not get in the way of the professional running of the SRU. Understandable, given the utter botch the elected fellows had made up to sacking the CEO in 2005.

    The proposed split between the professional and community games makes sense too, they are very different animals and would benefit from having their own dedicated boards, particularly the domestic game, which plays second fiddle in the SRU at the moment.

    However, the proposed governance is a total non-starter. Dunlop put in place a very sensible structure, where the Board was composed 1/3 Executive members (key SRU employees), 1/3 non executive (independent outsiders) and 1/3 club representatives, elected from the Council. That has been a practical model that ensures the executive is, at least in theory, held to account by independent professionails and the club game.

    What is being proposed is that the club element is removed, with club representatives being vetted and selected by the executive. This is not on. The issue is not the old chant of ‘the club’s own the SRU’, it is about having a professional organisation that represents the club’s and affiliated organisations and answers to them.

    The changes that are needed are: (a) 1/3 of the membership of these proposed boards must be elected directly by the member clubs to give them some democratic validity, (b) the elected President must have a seat and full voting rights on the main board and (c) the AGM must have the right to scrutinise and vote on any matiers involving any of the 4 proposed boards, ŕegardless of Limited company status etc. Failing such safeguards, we will have a self-appointed governance structure free from any real democratic control. While the SRU has to be run as a professional business, it also has to reflect that it is the governing body of a large amateur organisation, which the proposed new structure most certainly does not reflect.

    Sure the SRU get tired with a lot of the stuff coming from clubs and league forums and so on, but that is the nature of a national sporting organisation and they just need to handle ithe a bit mote intelligently and openly.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      Though there is nothing stopping the articles of association saying clubs have the voting rights you talk about. Several clubs have set themselves up as limited companies and dud just that.

      Where I would depart from you is the separation of the pro and domestic games. Yes from an administrative perspective but each is symbiotic

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