News 5 Sep 2016

MA alliance agreement to stablise sport’s governance

More centralised administration structure currently in the works.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

The Motorcycling Australia (MA) council and board have taken tentative steps toward implementing a vital alliance agreement including a new funding model after a chaotic number of months within the organisation.

A final alliance agreement is currently being mapped out to stabilise the national governing body using procedures set out upon recommendation of the 2015 Whole of Sport Review, which could significantly strengthen the sport’s future.

Friction soared during the first half of 2016 when, following three strategic national workshop meetings and an agreement to create a newly-formed alliance last year, plans stalled and the board instead proposed to have the sport operated under one CEO and a central board in a unified governance.

Such an alliance initially in the works would have involved a leadership team made up of eight presidents between MA and the states, as well as a management team consisting of the MA and state CEOs/GMs in operations. It had been formulated as a consolidated, efficient model that was agreed upon last November, incorporating a pivotal funding model group.

According to the council, which consists of presidents of the sport’s seven state controlling bodies, the alliance faulted and the funding model wasn’t formalised as intended. It attempted to revive and move forward on those plans through February this year, however was unsuccessful.

Information regarding the alternate unity proposal then put forward by the board was first revealed in May when a meeting to discuss the alliance was followed by a letter to council from then MA president Tania Lawrence, which was publicly leaked in the process.

That sudden change of direction, which would have effectively dissolved the state controlling bodies in their current form, and subsequent disclosure angered the council, severely straining the relations between it and the MA board. Council rejected the board’s proposal, before a mediation meeting involving the Australian Sports Commission later took place in a bid to resolve differences.

Those circumstances resulted in a standoff of sorts between the council – one of the most powerful groups in Australian motorcycle competition – and board, ultimately now leading to Lawrence’s departure after she resigned last Sunday. This was all despite members of the council not being completely opposed to a unified governance in the future.

Just one day prior to Lawrence’s resignation, MA released an online survey at motoaustralia.org to source feedback from those within the sport in a bid to move forward on an increasingly centralised structure, however it’s understood that calls to rid of the state controlling bodies in favour of MA state branches are off the table for now.

The objective of a more central approach between MA and the state controlling bodies is said will streamline operations, enabling the organisation to fast-track solutions for suggested performance issues with increased accountability, improve insurance matters and to strengthen the sport’s financial position on a national level.

Financially MA has been in a difficult state and faces significant losses this year, however it has allegedly been vastly improved by those currently in control. Such a turnaround won’t be straightforward though, with the rebuilding phase of the Australian Superbike Championship alone posting major losses over the past season. It’s invested over $600,000 into the series.

Currently, it’s understood the sport is led by eight CEO/GMs with over 45 board members between the national governing body and state controlling bodies, making for an extremely complex and costly model, resulting in severe financial stresses at a national level.

Increased cooperation between the MA council and board is paramount in moving forward, as it is the council which elects four of the directors, who in turn appoint two independent directors and an industry representative to form the MA board.

The current board, which was elected in August last year, now consists of Peter Goddard, Michael Strano, John Bolitho and Steve James, while renowned industry identity Peter Doyle is the current acting CEO of MA. It’s a very different organisation to that previously positioned in the national governing body’s key administration roles.

MA council representative Brenton Matters, who currently serves as the Motorcycling South Australia president, told CycleOnline.com.au it was looking forward to building a more centralised future in the best interests of the sport.

“The council is looking forward to moving forward on the alliance along with the new funding model that was agreed to by all last November and to bring us back onto track to where we were last November,” Matters commented.

Speaking on behalf of the MA board, former international road racer turned director Goddard is also confident that progress is being made in a bid to improve the sport’s future governance in cooperation and collaboration with the council.

“A national structure is very, very important and I think everybody agrees to that,” Goddard said. “Especially an alliance, we need to be more efficient and there are lots of things we need to do. We really need to work with council – we’re all one. How each part is managed has to be figured out and will take time, but we all have the same end goal.”

As part of the current resolutions taking place at this point, plans to move forward with an alliance and new funding model are now in motion, as well as electing a new MA president and new board members to replace those who have recently resigned, both Lawrence in August and Leanne Knowles in April.

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