Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Is the membership model in need of change?

Calderón and Di Stefano vote at the AGM
El Socio writes a heartfelt plea for reform of the way Real Madrid is run after the recent shenanigans at the Annual General Meeting last Sunday. First of all, some facts and figures:

  • Real Madrid has some 85,000 socios, of which around 66,000 have the right to vote (adults who have been registered for at least 12 months).
  • 42% of those who had the right, actually voted in person at the past election
  • Estimates vary, but around 10,000 are deemed to have voted by post
  • Of all the socios, a select number (around 3,000), called socios compromisarios are allowed to vote at Annual and Extraordinary General Meetings of the club. These members are chosen in a rather "peculiar" way. Two or more "ordinary" members can choose a compromisario to represent them, but the decision on whether this member is allowed to join that exalted rank is up to the club management.

El Socio bemoans the lack of transparency in the "democratic" process, the lack of commitment of the compromisarios (only about a third turned up to the AGM, and a tiny fraction stayed until the end to make a decision on the postal vote) and the apparent lack of intelligence of some of those present, given their contributions. He argues for reform, either turning the club into a plc, which would force it to adhere to the rules and regulations of the market, or by withdrawing membership from those who do not turn up to vote and expelling any compromisarios who do not turn up to AGMs.

This is where I disagree. We've seen across Europe the effects of turning clubs into listed companies at the vagaries of the market. Clubs are run for the benefit of shareholders, not of fans. Worse, predators can move in and turn them into their own private fiefdoms.

On the membership front, I find El Socio's suggestions a little impractical, not to say undemocratic. As in any other election, why should you vote if you feel none of the candidates is good enough? Or if there's little to choose between them? However, there should be no scope for the board to 'fix' things by picking those who are allowed to take part in decisions. All members should have a vote, and if a proxy is necessary, for practical reasons, plenty of companies conduct their AGMs without any problems. I am astonished that the current voting system was retained, with the postal vote still open to manipulation. I don't know all the details, and perhaps the members thought that the proposal would deny those that do not live near Madrid the ability to vote easily. Any postal vote should be run by an independent impartial organisation, who cannot be manipulated by either the current board, or by any of the candidates.

1 comment:

Juhana said...

I believe that Real Madrid should remain as it is, no thanks for PLC. There are just too many bad things that could happen, as we have seen.

It has been really traumatic to follow this confusion with the mail votes. It's like Florida all over again... And I'm actually quite surprised that the socios still have the regular (snail) mail voting option. In my opinion, the mail voting could be left in the history already. It is easy to manipulate, its slow and much more expensive than its best alternative.

The best alternative is to move the voting to the internet. Nowadays it is really secure (when it is done correctly), fast and i'm sure everyone have an internet available at least somewhere near. And counting these votes takes seconds.

Of couse they shouln't stop the regular voting in the Madrid. But the internet voting would be really handy for the socios living in distant parts of the Spain or even abroad.

I'm also little disappointed that Real Madrid is really much behing with other IT-solutions. The website is pretty good, but there are so much more it could have. Paid content, good and working ticket salesystems etc. And the fanshop, now it ridiculous. With better internet services, Real Madrid could easilly bring in much more cash.