August date pencilled in for AGM with chairman set to quit

Scottish Rugby hopes to be able to hold its annual general meeting (agm) on Saturday, August 15 – although the date remains subject to coronavirus-related restrictions on travel and gatherings being lifted.

Scottish Rugby hopes it may be able to hold its AGM in mid-August.
Scottish Rugby hopes it may be able to hold its AGM in mid-August.

The organisation’s chairman, Colin Grassie, has also confirmed to the board that he intends to stand down from his role as chairman and independent non-executive director at the meeting.

In line with normal procedures, the board, through its nominations committee, will be undertaking a search for his replacement.

The board is also exploring all ways to ensure essential AGM matters, including ratification and election of office bearers, still proceed, should COVID-19 restrictions continue in force by mid-August.

Scottish Rugby will be writing to club secretaries shortly with further information and guidance in connection with AGM business and timescales.

Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Outgoing chairman Mr Grassie joined the board as an independent non-executive director in 2012 and was appointed as chairman in 2017. He said: “I have been immensely proud to hold the position of chairman over the past three years and I’d like to thank each and every board member I have had the pleasure of working with for their support and guidance.

“I intend to give the essential work now under way during the COVID-19 crisis my complete focus and full attention until such time as we can bring our member clubs together for our next AGM.

“While the board tackles its challenges from a virtual boardroom, we are especially conscious and respectful of all those people who are literally on a front line and many who perform often thankless work to keep our daily lives as normal as possible. We are, as a board, very grateful.

“We are facing unprecedented challenges on a daily basis and I believe we have the right people in place to tackle this head-on.”

Like many organisations Scottish Rugby and the whole rugby community face significant challenges on multiple fronts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Scottish Rugby board said: “Our clear priority, as the board of Scottish Rugby is the well-being of our staff and players and the financial well-being of the organisation. We also remain very focused on the wider health of the club game in Scotland.

“It is to the credit of everybody at Scottish Rugby, including the players and off-field staff, that the organisation has been able to move smoothly into the furloughing phase.

“The Government’s Job Retention Scheme is a very welcome intervention which many employers are accessing.

“As a Board, we would like to formally place on record our sincere thanks to all our players and staff for all their hard work and contribution to the organisation since this pandemic started.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had issued a stark reminder of the challenges facing sporting organisations, big and small, who all wish to return to competitive sport at every level, said the statement.

“This message will be felt in every club in Scotland and we will need continued patience as to when we can resume.

“In the meantime, we are working very closely with the Scottish Government and other sports to understand how we can best play our part in getting sport played once the conditions are right.

“Like all organisations, we do not have a clear insight into the timescales on a return to play and the resultant vital revenue that rugby fixtures and our events create.

“The changing daily picture makes mid to long-term planning with any degree of certainty unrealistic, and any multi-year strategy can only be a theoretical exercise for the time being. Our ability to identify and deliver mid to long-term objectives depends on having a clear forward view on when our sport will resume, and on what basis.

“That clarity does not exist at the moment.

“As a result, our normal long-term planning and strategy work will be paused to ensure the Board’s focus is on short to medium term financial planning and decision-making to navigate through this crisis period and be ready to rebuild once we can.

“The financial sustainability of the sport in Scotland is a priority for us and we will continue to represent Scotland’s interests at international level, where crucial decisions will be made affecting all our futures.”

The board has also noted, and welcomes, the update provided by the Scottish Rugby Council Governance Task Force that the Task Force will take time to consult before making final recommendations on structural or governance matters.

“The board, given its focus on the coronavirus crisis, will not be seeking to engage with the task force until after the AGM in August and Ian Barr is president, said the statement.

“This is important work and at a time of significant disruption in the sporting world there is a need to ensure that there is the opportunity for meaningful consultation with all our clubs and stakeholders.

“There must and will be time, in due course, to look at how Scottish Rugby is structured and governed but, right now, we must concentrate our collective energies on the pressing matters at hand.

We have worked hard as an organisation to improve our finances in recent years and to assist our clubs. The support we have received from our employees, sponsors and partners to date has been humbling.

“We look forward to working with you all, collectively, through the challenging weeks and months ahead.”