These are the things that people do not know.
They do not know because they are not told.
- Hilaire Belloc
Here's a little clipping. It's from the Report of the Chairman of the [ECF] Finance Committee, a document published some time ago but submitted to the meeting of the ECF Finance Council on 14 April 2012. Last Saturday.
So how, you may be wondering, is it going, the attempt to "provide an adequate audit trail"? How much of this controversial £12,600 has been accounted for? For how much of it have CJ de Mooi and the ECF been able to provide receipts and invoices?
Ten thousand pounds? Five thousand? Fifty quid?
The answer is - we do not know. We do not know because we are not told.
If you have the patience, which I do not necessarily recommend, you can hunt around on this thread where you will find (last Sunday morning, if you must) the present author putting, more than once, the question, to ECF Chief Executive Andrew Farthing. However, Mr Farthing - or, as I prefer to think of him, the ECF's Mr Transparency - will not answer.
We do not know. We do not know, because we are not told.
Nothing to see here
Why not, I wonder? I can think of at least three reasons why ECF officials might not want to say how much of the money claimed by CJ cannot be accounted for.
- They may be embarrassed by the size of the sum which cannot be accounted for, and do not wish to make it public.
- They may be embarrassed by their own role in the financial incompetence which allowed this situation to happen, and do not wish it to be further discussed.
- They may actually not know what conditions players were receiving at their own tournament, due to having handed over everything to CJ de Mooi, and hence cannot make the sums add up.
These are not, of course, mutually exclusive possibilities. Are any of them true? We do not know. We do not know, because we are not told.
I can think of at least three reasons why ECF officials might not want to say how much cannot be accounted for. I can also say how many good reasons I can think of.
That number is nil.
I mean Mr Transparency could say something like "well, there's £6,789 we can't trace, but we don't think there's any likelihood of getting much more information and we're nevertheless confident that the money went where it was intended". This was be understandable, if less than brilliant. But he could say that. However, he does not.
Mr Transparency prefers to say nothing, and refer us to the great integrity of the individuals who have approved the accounts. Which is fatuous. It is nothing to do with anybody's integrity. It is to do with money unaccounted for.
Integrity? You can talk about integrity all you like, until something disastrous happens. After that, what you need is documentation and paperwork. Which we do not appear to have. And if you do not have it, don't be telling me about people's integrity. Because that's not the question I was asking.
Not so much lost as never found
So, how much is unaccounted for? We understand that some hotel bills have been presented, but how much is still left over? You can be sure that the answer isn't "nil", or anything close to it, because I fancy Mr Transparency wouldn't be quite so reticent if that were the case. It's a safe assumption (and if it is not, I'd be glad to be told so) that a substantial proportion of the money paid over to Mr de Mooi presently remains beyond any "adequate audit trail". If this is so then another way to put this is that thousands of pounds are not properly accounted for. Which is the kind of situation for which the term "legitimate public concern" exists. Or to put it another way, it constitutes a scandal.
Now I know, from long experience (not least, having spent a certain part of my life writing about football clubs and their owners) that a lot of people simply don't get questions of financial organisation and propriety. "Well, where do you think the money's gone?", they will ask. But of course that's not really the problem. The problem is not that we know where the money went, it's that we don't know where the money went. The question therefore is not just "where has it gone?" - it's "why don't we know where it went?".
In my view, as it stands, what we have might be the single most shocking manifestation of financial negligence in the organisation's history. In a way, worse than Tunis, as more money is involved.
Blind, mad, or led by a Fool?
You simply cannot hand over thousands of pounds to people without proper documentation. If, by some disastrous chance, you do, and you are serious about trying to retrieve your mistake, you absolutely have to do so thoroughly - and to report the results of your investigations openly.
That's basic. And the corollary applies: if you're neither thorough nor open, then you are not serious.
But the ECF don't seem to do thorough. Nor does Mr Transparency do open.
To sum up:
- If you do not deal properly with serious problems when they occur, you ensure that serious problems will recur. Perhaps not the same ones, precisely, but other ones quite like them.
- If you cover up a scandal, you do not erase the scandal. You merely multiply it.
What has happened here is a scandal and a cover-up. I am sorry to use those terms. But as it stands, that is what it is.
Mr Transparency has told us nothing. And nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
[Andrew Farthing image: Worcester City Chess Club]
[Lear image: playbill.com]
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