Notes from the Chair, John Brewer
It was great to visit the museum recently, and to get the chance to speak with many of you. It was also really pleasing to see so many young people having a great time on school visits, and the “buzz” was yet another reminder of how good it is to be returning to normality as we start to live with, rather than be dominated by, COVID-19.
On the last occasion that I wrote these notes, I mentioned that we were about to commence the recruitment process for new Trustees. Jane Bateman, Moira Stevenson and I spent three days interviewing a large number of candidates from a range of backgrounds and with different areas of expertise, and I am delighted to say that we are now in the process of appointing nine new volunteer Trustees who will, I am sure, provide fantastic support and advice to the NFM for many years to come.
We are putting together a formal announcement with details of each individual which I hope we will be able to release shortly, suffice to say that they include people with expertise in marketing, law, journalism, fund-raising, and sport, as well as a former Eastenders actor…
Behind the scenes, there is also a lot of unglamorous work that we need to do to get the governance of the NFM to where it should be. By this, I mean the structure of the sub-committees, the schedule of meetings, and making sure that we do everything properly and legally. A good example of this is the need to schedule an Annual General Meeting, as this is the only way that new Trustees can be formally appointed. We also need to sign off budgets and review things like our “risk register” to ensure that we are agile and able to respond to potential issues that we could face now or in the future.
None of it is anywhere near as exciting as a school visit to the NFM, but it has to be done if we are to have the high quality of governance which the museum deserves, and which our partners want.
As always, football is never far away from the headlines, and as we near the end of the domestic season, we can look forward to the Women’s Euros and the Qatar World Cup which will certainly generate plenty of media attention and focus. I know the NFM will be supporting both and helping to bring a small taste of both to Manchester, and who knows, perhaps one or both of them will create a piece of history for a British team that we will be able to tell a story about for many years to come!
I’d like to start by thanking you all for welcoming me to the National Football Museum, and to say how pleased and honoured I was to be offered the role. I have been in post for just over a month, and I thought it would be helpful to update you all on the work that has been going on behind the scenes to ensure that our Trustees are able to support the museum and help it to grow and flourish.
I will start by trying to explain what a trustee is – we are effectively members of the museum’s board, and whilst we have no ownership of the museum (and we are all volunteers), our role is to provide oversight and guidance to the leadership team, to guide and oversee the museum’s strategy, and to ensure that the finances are secure.
What we don’t do is get involved in day-to-day operational matters – that is the responsibility of Tim and the senior leadership team; but we are there in the background to provide advice and guidance as and when it is required.
Having said all of that, we are currently in a situation where a number of our longest-serving trustees are about to step down, and to use a football analogy, as manager of the team, I now need to bring new people into the squad to replace them. Ideally, I would like us to have about twelve trustees / board members (we will soon be down to just three or four) and in getting to this number, we need to ensure that we have people from diverse backgrounds with a range of skills who can support the organisation.
With that in mind, we have spent a lot of time shortlisting and interviewing potential candidates, who have expertise in areas such as marketing, digital transformation, law and the media. At the time of writing this, I don’t know which candidates have been successful, but having helped to compile the shortlist, I am really excited about the new team that we are about to assemble. I hope too that they will be visible to you all, and that they will become regular visitors to the museum.
As we hopefully start to emerge from the challenges of the pandemic, I know that the last two years will have been a very challenging time for all of you, both professionally and personally. As Chair, I want to extend my sincere thanks to you all for the way that you have continued to support the museum during this very tough time. When I visited at the start of February, it was immediately evident that everyone of you has a real passion for all that the museum offers, and it is testimony to your hard work and dedication that we are now able to re-open the doors and welcome people to such a fantastic and stimulating environment.
Some of you may have read that I was fortunate to work in football for many years, starting out as a sport scientist back in the days when sport science was not really part of the sport. Although my playing days were limited to a few appearances for my school team, powered mainly by determination rather than ability, I was very fortunate to find myself on the team bus with the England team for the opening game of the Italia ’90 World Cup.
The fact that the roof of the bus nearly got ripped off by a low bridge which the Italian police had forgotten about is one of the many stories I will be happy to tell when I get to see you all in person…