Notes for National Council Meeting – January 2023


The National Council Meeting on 14th January 2023 is to be a remote meeting. These notes are to help prepare for the meeting. Sent in advance as there will not be time to ask all the questions. 

These notes are made in the order of the agenda and to include background information and comments about the papers provided on the agenda.


Is the introduction by Chair really going to take 20 minutes?

Minutes from the October meeting.

It appears that Board approval for the Competition Review was sought and given in December, whereas the expectation of National Council was that it would be brought back to the January meeting.

Governance Reform – Voting

From my Forty-Two document – – Voting powers need to be reviewed. This gives us the opportunity to embrace the theory of “One Member, one vote.”

Currently there are around 25,000 members but our voting poll is in the region of 67,000. This is not logical. My membership is currently worth 6 – one for each league in which I am registered. In fact, it is twelve as the leagues and county votes are duplicated. If I am a Company Member for a local league my power would between 100-150. If I am National Councillor for Sussex, my power would be over 1,000, which can cancel out the votes of the league company members.

Currently within the Sport 80 system, members nominate their home club. This could easily be altered to provide a dropdown box for their voting preferences.  There may even be an option to opt out of voting. Or the option to have voting as a package that members would pay a subscription to exercise any option.

The drop downs could be:

  • Themselves
  • Their Club
  • Their League
  • Their County – National Councillor
  • No interest – default to National Councillor.

For example, in a normal county of 1000 members:

  • 10 members might choose to vote themselves
  • 150 may be members of a large club
  • 300 may feel that their league can cover their interests.
  • The reminder of 540 would fall to the National Councillor as the default option.

This whole arrangement would probably increase the number of votes case as there should be very few people who would not case their vote.

In adopting this arrangement, we will have:

  • One member, one vote
  • Increase the acknowledgement of the importance of clubs
  • Probably increase the likelihood of people voting
  • Removed the multiple votes in the current system.

The recent Member Elected Director election campaign highlighted the shortcomings of the current Company Member system. Some leagues do not know who their company member is. Many company members only care about their league and do not have any interest in much beyond that. Their lack of knowledge about the issues involved in many votes, almost takes them into the realms of being vulnerable clients. Therefore, they vote for the first person that contacts them or the way they are directed by influential people. I guess that better and more consistent communication may be the cure for this.

I will provide more detailed answers to the questions posed by Jo Keay-Blyth in her paper. The timescale is too far away. Anybody interested is likely to reply fairly promptly.

I am intrigued who is on the select committee considering this subject, as I believe that I am well qualified to have valid input and have not been asked.  Although, I suppose, you could always rely on getting my opinion – in writing.

Competitions Review

Are the responses actually from the Project Group or simply answers from Neil Rogers? They have a familiar ring of “we will have to agree to disagree on that” and simply ignore the suggestions that do not match his views.

Local League was out of scope of the National Competition Review – this has been clear and clearly stated throughout – but the Steering Group agree that improvements can be made at local level that will complement the competition review.

Missing the point here – local leagues should be part of the review, even if they are self-governing. Similarly, VETTS events are part of our playing calendar. So simply disregarding them, because TTE does not run them directly, makes the review flawed. We seem to be paying more attention to ITTF events, that the TTE does not run.

The Steering Group do not agree on this point, and this direction is not evidenced via the body of knowledge established via mapping + external insight + internal insight + forums + 1:1 interviews + consultation + analysis + modelling + feedback

Lots of data gathered – asking the wrong questions = drawing the wrong conclusions. Garbage in, garbage out.

Still unwilling to listen to feedback. Not sure what experts Sandra Deaton is referring to This is why a steering group, chaired by NR, had been put together, of experts in their field, to identify a better way forward. We only needed expertise in competition strategy. Doh!

National Council Competition Review sub-committee report

This report took just short of three months to put together and it appears to be everything that Competition Review should have been.  The report from Neil Rogers has taken more than two years and is in the wrong direction on many important aspects. As I said previously – if you keep asking the wrong people, the wrong questions you will end up with the wrong conclusion. The saying that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” does not apply in this case as Neil is paid quite well.

Appendix A – I agree with the points made.

But would go a step further with younger players. Young people aged 8 – 13 years old value badges. Therefore, if there were county matches, played on a regional basis to minimise travel, this would enable them to get those badges. This was put forward a couple of times as resolutions by Warwickshire and supported by Sussex to the County Championships AGM, but were not accepted.  I think that these are really important in the retention of younger players in competition with other sports.

Appendix B – I agree with most of the points raised.

The National Championships have not been fit for purpose since they were changed to an invitational event.  I would suggest that the qualifying event is on the Friday before the Championships. Players playing in that may well chose to stay to watch the main events on Saturday and Sunday. Particularly, if they are able to play in a doubles event on the Saturday. This should ensure a larger, more engaged crowd for the finals.

Appendix C – I agree with the points raised.

There is a typo in point a – one of the south-wests should be north-west.

We should be looking for local companies/organisations for sponsorship. eg South-West should approach Vitality (based in Bournemouth). South-East should go to Bupa (based in Brighton), Midland – Boots (based in Nottingham) etc.  Multiple sponsors providing smaller funds. Possibly multiple sponsors for each event.

This approach should be made locally by the tournament organisers.  If we look in our membership database, we should have information about where members work or whether they own businesses to make the approaches warmer than they would be if approached centrally. Of course, this could be handled by the development team personnel operating in the local areas.

Appendix D – Agree with no further comment.

Appendix E – Agree with the points raised.

1* and 2* already running in Hereford, Horsham and Nottingham. Just need more venues and organisers around the country. Can be held in different areas on the same day to minimise travel and costs.

The role of the regions would be to produce a calendar for their region including all of the competitions into which the players registered in these regions could participate and encourage and promote entries into these new competitions.

Appendix F – Agree with the points raised with no further comment

Appendix G – Agree with the points raised.

The points raised in section f would become more relevant if clubs were given a higher priority within TTE. In my first note, I mentioned clubs being given the opportunity to vote on behalf of their members. I think that this would be a positive development.

Appendix H – Agree with the points raised.

The point I made on Appendix A is relevant to this.

Young people aged 8 – 13 years old value badges. Therefore, if there were county matches, played on a regional basis to minimise travel, this would enable them to get those badges.

Appendix I – agree with the points raised.

It was ridiculous for local leagues to be beyond the scope of the Competition Review. These should be helped to develop by the local personal in the development Team.

We do not to try to integrate Piing Pong Parlours and Ping! Into our community. The Brighton City Table Tennis Club has had some success in this area and we should try to work with their practices.

I am puzzled that Adrian seems to be pointing to so many parts of the feedback being in line with the Competition Review unless it has been vastly revised since I last looked. I am heartened that there is such a large degree of overall alignment between your feedback and the current proposals.  To quote the late-Queen Elizabeth “recollections may differ” or in this case interpretation.

I’m not aware either at the time or subsequently anyone in any way disagreeing with excluding local league competitions from the scope.  I guess that Adrian missed all my communications prior to his appointment. I have been making this point since day 1 in virtually every paper that I have written on the Competition Review and even mention it in my Forty-Two document.  I have also raised the issue in my recent papers back to National Council over several meetings and notes on the AGM.  

You may find my review from 2017 instructive. and from 2018 .

We still have the issue that “The steering Group does not agree on this point, and this direction is not evidenced by the body of knowledge established via the review.”  Specifically, this comment related to the new cadet British League, but that has been the attitude displayed throughout the process.  To repeat, if you keep asking inaccurate questions, you will get answers and conclusions that are erroneous. The original steering group is not a good source and half of them are no longer with TTE – thankfully. The members that I know on the steering group have not been consulted.  

I am disappointed that Adrian is falling into the trap of defending the indefensible. We have all been pleased to see the positivity of Table Tennis United and want to be part of that, but this competition review will not make that boat go faster.

this final phase will involve the Project Group and the new Competition Advisory Committee and be led by the Executive team before seeking final approval to proceed from the Board on 24 March 2023.” It should be led by the Advisory Committee and implemented by the executive.

The competition structure should provide the opportunity to play table tennis

  • at the right level
  • wherever they live
  • to enable their enjoyment
  • or should they so wish to develop their skills towards competing at the highest levels.

MAG Project on director appointments.

I would like to be on this working group.

From memory, the delay in starting the most recent election process was due to considerations about minimising my opportunity to be a successful applicant by over-thinking the application of the skills matrix. Any effective, competent Chair should have been able to manage this much quicker.

It makes sense for terms of appointment to run to AGM years as they do for National Councillors.

Succession planning means that the 4-year terms need to be staggered and they are already.

Chair                                      end of term April 2023

Susie Venner                     end of term June 2023

Steve Kemish                    re-appointment November 2023

Priya Samuel                      re-appointment November 2023

Don Parker                          re-election June 2024

Ritchie Venner                  re-election June 2025

Emma Vickers                    re-appointment June 2025

Kwadjo Adjepong            re-appointment June 2025

Ray James                           re-appointment June 2025

Richard Ayers                    re-appointment June 2026

Jos Kelly                               re-election November 2026

Adrian Christy                    ex-officio – term aligned to continuation as CEO.

I would suggest that those in November simply go for re-appointment in the previous June, rather than exceeding their term and then everything will be aligned to the AGMs. Or they go to November, and then run the recruitment or election processes in the interim for the new appointment or election to take effect in the next June, with short-term vacancies.

National Council Meeting Dates

These should be evenly spaced between the Board meeting to maximise the potential for two-way communication.

The Board meetings are

24th March

15th or 22nd June

28th September

7/8th December

The AGM is on 8th July.

Therefore, if we have a meeting in April and June, the NC would meet twice between the March and June board meetings. This would only be useful if we are considering resolutions in advance of the AGM.

15th April will clash with VETTS Western Masters. Not recommended.

Sat 15 Apr Milton Keynes 2 Star Milton Keynes 2 Star VETTS Western – Bristol

22nd April will clash with ELCC qualification

Sat 22 Apr Butterfly Schools Individual Finals – Aldersley Butterfly Schools Individual Finals – Aldersley ELCC Qualification

13th May clashes with VETTS Nationals

Sat 13 May

Cadet National Cup VETTS Nationals – Aldersley

27th May clashes with the Grand Prix at Redbridge.

Sat 27 May

Grand Prix (5) Redbridge, London

3rd June has clashes

 Sat 3 Jun

London 1 Star London 1 Star

ELCC Finals

SBL Premier Div. Cup

National Club & Coaching Conference

 So the chances are, whichever date is chosen their will be absentees.  Probably fewer vacancies would be on the dates 22nd April and 3rd June. A damage limitation exercise.

CEO monthly update

This is good communication.

However, the link on the report to the application process for the volunteer members of the advisory groups took me to the Pride of table tennis awards. should work.

The management reporting is a very useful document.  Easy to see all the different strands of activity and to see progress made.

If I had had this level of detailed information when I was on the Board, I would not have needed to ask so many questions!

Adrian needs to build a strong team around to ensure the success of Table Tennis United. If the Competition Review is unsuccessful, the rest of his plan will be at significant risk. Always surround yourself with the best people. They will make you look good. I have a lot of medals and prizes at home for playing in good teams with players better than me. It works in business too.

If you have second division players in your team, that is where you will end up playing.

Finance Report

On the accounts, is the UK Sport Progression money shown in the turnover, the spending of the £1.35m that I have been asking about since it was first granted?  I had wondered whether I was asking the wrong question. Rather than “what is it being spent on? “ I have recently been tempted to change to “why will you not advise us? Is there something that has happened that will not bear closer scrunity? “  Clarification would be appreciated.

Otherwise, the accounts are clearly presented and explained.

Chair’s Report

Advisory Committees – there are 5 advisory committees and 10 directors. Therefore, 2 directors to each advisory committee would seem to be logical. Probably split as far as possible to have a MED on 4 committees, although it would be preferable for a MED to be on each committee. They should not act in isolation and all of the Board should be aware of what is happening on all of the committees.

The change to the structure of the development team appears to be the reconstruction of the structure that was dismantled by Simon Mills. Eight years lost but you would not listen.

I presume that Sandra’s directorship of GBTT is an ex-offcio appointment and she will be replaced by the new Chair of TT when the appointment is made.

Please share about local initiatives as the sharing of good, successful ventures would be beneficial to us all.

The ETTU strategic plan was a glossy little wish list. A bit like a watered-down,dumbed-down version of  the original plan put forward by Adrian, only nowhere near as good or detailed.  How do we obtain the in-depth plan with the KPIs? To whom was the presentation made in December? The deadline for feedback is 20th January. How do we do this and to whom?

Not impressed by ETTU website that has nothing more recent than Sara leaving TTE in October.  No report on ITTF AGM or anything competitions or anything else. Is the website still live?

All the member Elected Directors have the right to be on the Nominations Committee. I would suggest that any interviews are conducted by a maximum of three directors – presumably 2 NEDs and 1 MED. Any larger panel would be intimidating to interviewees. Record the interviews to play back to the remainder of the Nominations Committee. Recording meetings is common practice and is good for safeguarding reasons.  The remainder of the Nominations Committee can then participate in the decision-making. Really not difficult.

Presumably, there will be some celebration to be held on the retirement of Sandra. Not that I would expect to be invited, but it would be nice to know that it had happened.

It is a shame that England did not obtain the “preferred bidder” status for the ITTF Word Championships and Para World Championships in 2026. It seems that England was advised to withdraw the resolution at the ITTF AGM. This would suggest that it is very unlikely that the Championships will be awarded to England. I can see no point in pursuing this matter any further as there are no agreements for sponsorship or underwriting in place and these would need to already be in place in time for any bid. This is now, at best, a vanity project and will simply involve vast expense and resource with minimal chance of a positive result.


Board Minutes

The long-awaited minutes suddenly appeared yesterday morning. Rather late for a paper for the meeting tomorrow morning. Nothing surprises me with the current Chair. 5 weeks to produce the minutes from a meeting in early December. Still, good news, only one more meeting to go in March!

Of course, Sandra seems to have forgotten that she was initially appointed in February 2015. Sandra seems to be counting her time from the re-witing of the Articles of Association in April that year.

If the minutes from the meeting of 9th September were approved on 13th October, why are they still marked as draft on the website?

The minutes from the December have been put on the National Council page, but not the Board page. This really is basic administration.

Gap analysis by MAG. – gap analysis of what?

The competition review has been covered extensively already. It was more impression that it would not move onto the next phase whilst it needed so much amendment and was brought back to National Council.

Complimentary ticket policy – Who is reviewing this? Why? I have had a complaint from a lifetime member that they should receive two complimentary tickets for each international match and they had only been offered one.

Perhaps we need to review the attractiveness of our product to ensure better sales.

Swaythling has been miss spelt.  Surely the more senior members of the Board should have picked this up.

Under regional qualifiers –To be discussed by the wash-up group, events staff, SD and AC to reach a decision. Is that the list of people in the wash up group or are the other people?

It is great to see the Table Tennis United project proceeding. Absolutely delighted to have spoken to our new area manager yesterday. Invited him to Crawley K2 on a Thursday night to meet people. That invitation is still open to Adrian. Better times ahead.

The Code for Sports Governance should be incorporated into our Articles of Association and any guidance documents. Currently their some important anomalies. If only there was somebody in the membership that did compliance for a living that could help you with all that paperwork and matching them up.  Ideally, it would be achieved quickly enough to be raised as resolutions in the AGM to make the required amendments. Many things become much easier with good governance that has been absent from TTE for so long.

Reimagine membership – I hope that we are not going to spend too much time on consultation on this.

Q2 management report – AC gave an update on the current interest for the World Championships in 2026. The ITTF were excited by the vision for major events in England and are keen to explore this further with us. The bid would be put forward and considered by the members of the ITTF, probably in August 2023. This is difficult to understand. England was told to withdraw the resolution at the ITTF AGM for “preferred bidder” for the 2026 World Championships. Any bid is unlikely to be successful as has been discussed previously. What is the ITTF excited about?

Change of eligibility request – seems a bit pointless putting these on the minutes as there is no background information. Presumably this is about the Chinese girl living in Essex that wants to play for England. Any clues?

Royal Patronage – great idea.

Board Only Time – not sure that the Board has the right to over-ride the articles of association to extend the tenure of the Chair. Since the bid for the World Championships in 2026 is likely to be a total embarrassment, we should not be undertaking this and costing extra expense.  Therefore, no need for the extension.

Nominations committee has been discussed in a previous paper. Interviews should be recorded, this is common practice.

Court Hearing

The court hearing took place today. The judge has reserved judgement and will come back shortly on this. It will be difficult for him to go against the guidance from the appeal court.

It was intriguing when the question of the honorarium for Member Elected Directors was discussed. Sandra described the honorarium as an “expenses payment separate from expenses”.

Also, Sandra advised that the Board was considering removing the honorarium for the Member Elected Directors due to financial constraints and the number of MEDS. Not sure that the board is aware of this yet. Strange that it should be stopped just at the time that Sandra finishes having drawn the £3,000 Chair honorarium for the last 8 years.

Further questions

I have some questions to ask about the recent ITTF AGM at the beginning od December in Jordan.

Who makes the decisions on the way that England casts its votes on the resolutions?

Is the Board or anybody else consulted in advance of the meeting?

I note that England withdrew its resolution to be a “preferred bidder” for the World Championships in 2026. Sarah and Sandra have spent years telling the membership that ths was a “done deal”. What has changed? If England was told to withdraw the resolution, by whom? Why?

If England was told to withdraw the bid, I hope that we will not waste time and money making any further bid.  I understand that China is now making a bid for the event. Presumably, econonically, there are $15m reasons why their bid is stronger than ours.

I note that the championships in 2025 have been awarded to Qatar. Their bid was in competition with Spain. Which way did England vote? Why? Money talks, but I wonder whether the ITTF is just as corrupt as FIFA. The reasons for table tennis not to go to Qatar are the same as for football.  How did this happen?

England should be well-placed on the International stage as members of both Europe and the Commonwealth.  These must be the two largest voting blocks within the ITTF.

We are obviously not in any position of power internationally and this is probably due to the quality of our representation  in recent years. It was hardly succession planning for two people to attend the ITTF AGM who will no longer be in office after June next year.

It would be good to receive more regular reports on international matters, particularly since so much of our performance budget is linked to international events.

Looking forward to  productive meeting.

Tony Catt

National Councillor, Sussex

Looking forward to a productive meeting