In the June 23 edition of Boxing News magazine, correspondent Matt Christie conducted an interview with British Boxing Board of Control General secretary Robert Smith entitled ’Board Make Changes’. The article refers to the British Boxing Board’s Annual General Meeting held in Manchester on June 15, at which boxing board license holders objected strongly to the increase in licence fees and the proposed abolition of the last two remaining Financial Area Councils. One of those irate licence holders was south London manager and promoter Bruce Baker, who felt the need to respond to Christie’s interview with Robert Smith.
Below is the unedited letter to from Bruce Baker to Matt Christie of Boxing news and the unedited response to the key points in the letter by board of Control General secretary Robert Smith
I read with interest your article(Boxing News, June 23) regarding the Board of Control’s AGM and the statements made by our soon to be supreme leader Robert Smith. The inaccurate statements would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious. Your heading should have read “The Board wanted to make changes but actually didn’t”. The license fee increases were shelved and the amendments to the Articles of Association were held over pending a meeting between the Board and deputation of license holders. Robert Smith’s assertion on bringing the Articles “in line with the law of the land”, are at best not true and to be kind, piffle.
Robert Smith responds " Notices dealt with at special general meetings are available on the British Boxing Board of Control’s web site. At the general meeting the board felt the strength of feeling of the license holders and consequently adjourned the meeting pending further consultation and discussion with a delegation of representative licence holders.”
The current Articles of Association do not break any laws, particularly in the case of financial councils. The two remaining councils, Central and Northern Area are the two oldest councils and in fact have remained unchanged since the Board came into being, in 1929. In fact, when the Board became a Limited Company in 1988 there were six financial councils and two non-financial councils. The Board has always had the power to dismiss financial councils without reference to anybody, least of all the license holders. In fact they recently did this when they sacked the Western Area Council without telling the members.
Robert Smith responded: “This was the first redraft of the articles for 25 years - when I became general secretary the stewards felt that the articles should be updated and brought into line with the best practice. Our lawyers have never said that our articles were illegal but that current best practice would be that financially interested councils were not sensible and were more likely to leave the British Boxing Board of Control open to legal action and threat. BB (Bruce Baker) is reported as stating that there have never been any challenges regarding conflicts of interest with financially interested councils. This is not true there have been such challenges in fact I remember when an applicant licence holder challenged a decision made by a financial council, this was under my predecessor’s tenure."
Since they released details on the new Memorandum and Articles of Association, from the Chairman down, they have been telling all council members, ‘sorry guv’ got to get rid of these financial councils and prevent anybody that has a financial interest in boxing the right to vote on any matters concerning the Board or professional boxing because its the law. I have an exchange of emails, which basically said this with the Southern Area Council. When I asked what new dastardly legislation had been put into place recently to warrant these changes, the Southern Area Secretary sent me an email, which said actually there is no new legislation and of course the financial councils aren’t illegal. So please ask Robert Smith to withdraw his assertions or ask him for the legislation they are relying on to warrant this. You could also ask him in the 80 years that the Central and Northern Area’s have been in existence having 5 promoters, 3 referees, 4 boxers, 3 managers, 1 matchmaker and 3 members from other categories, acting as council members, how many times have they screwed up making bad judgments on other license holders that have led to legal proceedings? The real reason the Board has systematically buried financial councils and wants to get rid of the final two, is because they don’t do what the Board want them to do. Financial Councils ask too many questions, which the Board and Robert don’t particularly like. Better to have these nice non-financial councils, made up in the main of ex policemen, solicitors and boxing fans from the business world, who are Board appointees and in the main accept what the Board says, without argument.
Robert Smith responds "A non financial area council is not necessarily less likely to make a decision that would be challenged but the advice received and understood from our lawyers is that any decision by a financial council may leave the board more open to difficulties due to how it is set up and perceived."
Moving onto the accounts. Why wouldn’t the Board want to be open with its license holders. They get significant amounts of money from TV promoters and the rest of us pay a lot of money in license fees and tournament tax from each promotion. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to know how the Stewards and Directors spend the money? Talking about things being required by law and giving the minimum amount of information begrudgingly, is not helpful.
Robert Smith responds: 1.“Up until 1993 the British Boxing Board of Control sent out full and detailed accounts - after this time it changed. I am not sure why - however if a license holder requests to see full accounts for a justifiable reason then the board will make them available. This has occurred twice in the last year, once to Tommy Gilmour and once to Bruce Baker. “
"It must be understood that I am in the employ of the BBBofC and follow the instructions given to me by the board stewards."
The Directors of the British Boxing Board of Control are custodians of a business that was originally created by license holders, with the Board acting on their behalf but with the license holders operating the Area Councils in a lawful manner, as a self regulatory body.
If any license holder or member of the public reads the current Mem & Arts and then reads the proposed new one, you will see that the changes give the Board’s 12 Directors absolute authority over every aspect of professional boxing in the UK. We say, the license holders should have a democratic right to vote once a year, on all issues concerning professional boxing. The Board should concentrate on being more democratic and more open in the affairs and worry less about becoming the boxing world’s FIFA!
Robert Smith Responds: 1. "We have held licence holders forums in the past, no one came. Prior to October 2009 there had not been one for around nine years as they were so poorly attended. However, it was decided last year to try again and hold a forum every year if possible. At the October forum matters raised by licence holders have been taken into consideration and many have been listened to: We have merged the agents and matchmakers licence, we reduced the fees for title eliminators, we are looking into betting at tournaments, allowing alcohol at tournaments on a case by case basis depending on licensing, local authority, police approval and of course health and safety issues. At the last AGM we postponed any increases in licence fees and stated that this would be reviewed next year.”
“This clearly demonstrates that we not only listen but that the views and needs of licence holders are central to the work, business and in fact all aspects of the running of professional boxing in the UK. However the regulation of the sport does need to be run justly and in the best interests of all licence holders.”
Professional Boxing Promoters Association and British Boxing Board of Control licence holder.
July 15, 2011