Written by: John
At the club’s AGM on 22nd November 2021, Owners voted in favour of the following resolution:
“The AGM notes the advice from the Football Supporters Association that the club rules and side policies are in need of review. The AGM notes that the board intends to take up the offer from the FSA of a governance review and that a report will be made to members at a general meeting in advance of the next AGM.”
In presenting this item, the Board noted that one of the key issues related to Director term limits. The original Lewes Community Football Club Ltd (LCFC) rules, instituted at LCFC’s formation in 2010, did not include term limits for directors. When those rules were revised in 2014, in order to facilitate fundraising from owners for construction of the club’s 3G training facility, various side policies were adopted.
One of these, the Board Membership & Conduct Policy, introduced term limits for directors, through this clause:
5.8 No person can be a member of the Board: […]
5.8.2 who has been a member of the Board for 12 consecutive years
However, there was an absence of clarity in our rules around whether Directors could stand again in the future, and if so, when they could be permitted to do so.
As a result of this lack of clarity, owners were canvassed for their opinions throughout the course of summer 2022 until August 31, so that club rules might be modified as required.
The detail and summary of the responses to the exercise follows:
Do you agree with having term limits?
Overwhelmingly, owners believed that it was important to have term limits with 86.7% clearly agreeing. Those who provided a rationale tended to align with one owner’s assertion that term limits “are a healthy means to prevent dependence but also complacency, and they spur the club to continue engaging talented people in its governance.”
A small number of people (6.7%) disagreed, arguing that “there is no logic in depriving Lewes FC of conscientious, experienced and generous directors on the basis of an arbitrary term limit, provided they are subject to the existing rules on election”.
If so, is 12 years (four consecutive terms of office) the right period? Do you think this period should be a different length?
The responses to this question were much more varied with several different proposals issued. Responses roughly addressed three areas: total term limit in years, length of each term, combination of length and number of terms. Outlined below are the main responses.
Total number of years
- Most believed that 12 years was reasonable as a total number of years with a small number of people stating they believed there should be an indefinite number of years (38.7%)
- Many suggested 12 was too many and preferred a total number not exceeding 8-10 years (24%)
- A smaller number believed that 6 was sufficient time for a total term limit (8%).
- A small number of people indicated 4 years was enough (2.7%)
- Length of Terms
Where raised, the majority of people agreed that a 3-year term was appropriate. A small number of people supported a 4 or even 5-year term, but a shorter overall term limit.
- Combination of length and number of terms
- Whilst the majority of submissions felt it was appropriate to retain four terms of three years, a number of respondents felt that three terms of three years was sufficient.
- “12 years is OK by me – long enough to contribute, learn, innovate, and prepare for leaving a good legacy!”“I think three terms of three years is sufficient. Nine years is plenty of time for anyone to get their feet under the table, to see various projects from initiation through to completion, and to ensure some element of continuity. To go beyond that would be treading on the toes of keeping things fresh.”“I think whoever is fit to serve this club should do it there should be no term limits”Should directors who have reached their term limit be allowed to stand for election to the Board at a future AGM?
The predominant feeling from owners surveyed was that Directors who have reached their term limit should still be permitted to stand for election in the future (73.3%), dependent on a cooling off period. However, 14.7% of those surveyed disagreed and said that Directors should not be permitted to stand again.
If so, should there be a “Time out” period e.g. such a director couldn’t stand for election in the same year that they came off the Board or within a set number of months or years, for example. How long should that “Time Out” period be?
From those who responded to the question, and of those who believed in term limits, most agreed that there should be a cooling off or Time Out period and that Directors should not be permitted to stand again immediately.
22.7% of respondents were unsure about how long the Time Out period should be or disagreed with Term Limits entirely.
In general, from those who responded to this question, three proposed cooling off period lengths were raised: one year, a term, or the length of the entire term limit (e.g. 12 years).
The majority of the responses (18.7%) proposed a cooling off period of a term.
“At least one year should have lapsed, until they stand again at the next election, though my preference would be a gap of three years, ie one full term, to give the ‘new board’ time to get on with any different ideas or directions they may have, before anyone who has recently been involved for nine years (or whatever) comes back into the fold”
“I favour a ‘time out’ period equal to one three-year term before any previous board member who has reached the three-term limit can seek re-election to the board. This not only creates the space for ‘new blood’, but also reduces potential over-reliance on any individual board members.”
Based on the feedback from Owners and as reported to the recently held AGM, the following decisions have been taken:
- The club maintains Director term limits
- The club maintains the current length of term of three years
- The club introduces the opportunity to stand again but only after a cooling off period
- The club introduces a cooling off period that lasts one whole term before a Director can stand again for
Owning to the mixed responses to the question relating to the combination of length and number of total terms as Director can complete, the Club intends to survey Owners in the near future on the following:
How many terms should Directors be permitted to stand for?
- Four terms of three years (our current rule)
- Three terms of three years
We would like to thank all those Owners who responded to the survey for taking the time to do so.