Gagging Law Will Change Football More Than Whistleblowers
The cases of Edward Snowden, the Guardian laptop incident and the NHS Whistle-blower scandal has beggared questions of the rights, wrongs and indeed the morality of secrecy agreements. Such widespread use of non-disclosure agreements within Football, industry, commerce and the NHS have caused sufficient controversy of late, leading to legislation, that could do more damage to the game than a poor referee.
Thank-you for reading by Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
MP’s begin to debate the issue on Tuesday. The legislation is not good news at present for it is asking them to back government plans to silence community groups, charities and campaigners. 38 Degrees, the incredibly successful on-line lobby group who started out with the Forest issue, is taking a stance on part 2 of the legislation HERE. The remit is however much wider, but should this go through ‘in a rush’ it will make things even harder for fans at what are quaintly referred to as community clubs.
Nowhere has this been more frustrating than at Lincoln City Supporters Trust an organisation that was once seen as a beacon within Supporters Direct. Yet now it has become shrouded in secrecy, with Trust the last thing on anyone’s minds. The ‘critical friend tag has worn thin, particularly since it failed to give members a vote on a share transfer, an issue over a previous Secretary’s handling of the accounts (he was imprisoned for taking funds from a charity) and then failed to back four fans banned for political reasons – I am one of them…and… incredibly I can say no more due to, you’ve guessed it, secrecy rules.
Several ex-board members are effectively gagged by confidentiality agreements that come with office, yet, fans are none the wiser as to why 1 million shares were gifted to a holding company without a vote. Questions over election process and other issues including The Trust’s independence from the other two boards, will also remain unanswered until the law changes, hopefully, for the better.
Changes to the Law either way will be good news or bad for us, but it could have huge ramifications for football, an industry that uses NDA’s more than we realise. Most see it as just part of the pay-off process when managers and players leave. No one wants to know exactly what is going on at our clubs, mystery is part of the magic, yet when discussions are taking place with regard to ownership of what is supposed to be a community club, is it right or wrong to keep fans in the dark. They after all are the only lifelong stakeholders in the club and therefore it falls well within the realms of public interest.