Our Thoughts - Greg Francis Breaks his Silence ... May 2018

Karate-site feels very strongly that this is a very sad day for Karate indeed.

Dear Heads of Association, Karateka and friends

Many of you I know, others I do not but collectively you have continuously given me support via Ippon Magazine in the form of congratulations for my New Years Honour and in Polls for the EKF Presidency. I thank you all and am both flattered and humbled.

In regard to the Presidency you will be aware that I and others have been unfairly disqualified as candidates for the EKF Board. I will outline the reasons the EKF has given me in later posts for you to read at your leisure but in brief the EKF claimed:

1. The licence I held did not correlate with the EKF database,

2. My fitness Company FIT2FITE Ltd was a “Sports Company” and therefore contravened the following article.

. c) merchants or producers of sports items and their shareholders, partners, administrators and members of the Board of sports companies and any kind of commercial company which activity is within the realm of commerce, or manufacture of any kind of sports items or services pertaining to sports."

I sent the Board irrefutable evidence in the form of emails and minutes that they used the same reasons last time I applied for the board (July 2016) to disqualify me. The Board back then accepted my argument that:

a.  The definitions for “Sport” and” Fitness” are completely different and

b. That the Board members all commercially benefited from the sale of Karate paraphernalia and as Karate is a sport they all should be disqualified. The Board consequently overturned the Presidents decision to disqualify me,

I also asked the President in front of the Board when newly elected and subsequently by email for clarification  on the nomination process specifically in regards to the intentions of the disqualification  articles referring to “licensing” and the “Sports Company”. This was to try and ensure that I and nobody else in the future fell foul of them. I did not receive a response..

In regards to my licence they have gone to the ridiculous lengths of reporting me to the Police for Fraud claiming the EKF administrator had no record of my licence for the disqualified period on the EKF database. The Police informed their former colleague EKF Reporting/Compliance Officer Mark Fretwell that there was “no actionable offence”. This might have something to do with the fact that the licences are purchased in advance by Associations and that the EKF Articles state:

“Election to the board of directors of the EKF office is only open to persons officially put forward as candidates by the Member Associations who have been a member of that association for the last 1 (one) year …...”.

So in essence, you have to be licensed to your Association for one year and by default you are licensed to the EKF because your Association has purchased those licences in advance.

I requested and am still awaiting an apology from the Board!!!!.

Incidentally this is the same competent Compliance Officer praised in the Presidents Annual Report who disqualified Steve Coupland and Ivor Thomas for being paid employees of the EKF. Again Steve and Ivor had to explain to him  that  they received nominal expenses as Referees, the same as current Board member Billy Brennan. They also advised him that if they were paid employees they would have a contract, pay slips and grounds for reporting the EKF to HMRC for paying less than the minimum wage. 

They were reinstated!!!!

That aside, other long-standing, credible, members have been disqualified from the election also  for licence anomaly’s. Even though some of us appealed namely, Sensei's Peter Dennis, Winston Williams and  Andy Genery we had our Appeals rejected with still no explanation or reasons why.,  We still have no idea who was on the “independent” Appeals panel convened in Barnsley on 22 May..

Lets be clear the Articles are not fit for purpose and need review. Their ambiguity allows arbitrary interpretation to serve the purpose desired. The licence one year EKF affiliation rule, was not written to disqualify founding members of the EKF with tremendous, knowledge, skills and experience. The “intention” of that Article was I believe to prevent Association “jumping” or joining the EKF to get on the Board.

The question is why are they so desperate to keep me and others out?

Is it because they believe we would not positively and selflessly contribute to the betterment of English Karate? I think not!

My view is that they know that if elected we will undertake “radical” changes such as those outlined below.

  • Engage  with and work for the members openly,  honestly and with integrity to ensure all have a stake in their governance.
  • Remove the culture of fear that permeates the lives of too many hard-working, decent karateka.
  • Robustly, review Accounts, Articles,  Appointments, Safeguarding and other areas to ensure we are transparent and professionalised for 21st Century governance.
  • Re-engage with the Sport England led unification process.
  • Develop and implement initiatives that enhance all aspects of Karate in consultation with the members.

Apologies for the sarcasm in the use of the term “radical”. The above is commonly known as governance.

To summarise the EKF has managed to maintain its current incompetent, unreasonable and immoral path primarily due to Association indifference or fear of direct discrimination. This is unacceptable. If you are unaffected by the EKF then they are not governing, if you have to interact with them then fear of retribution is not governance.

Your democratic right to a fair, just and open election is being subverted bv the EKF to ensure I and others are kept out and others who were co-opted stay on the Board by default, i.e. not enough nominees, there are currently only seven...

Mike is right, it is TIME FOR CHANGE, Karate must take control of it's destiny and work to build a unified collective of skilled, selfless and honest professionals committed to working for the many, not the few.

I ask all you Heads of Associations to make every effort to attend the AGM on 2nd June. It is after all our Federation and the Power ultimately rests in the hands of the members, not the board. We can make change.

There are a number of very honest, experienced and committed individuals nominated for President and Vice President such as Steve Coupland and Paul Campbell and if elected I know they  will have uppermost in their minds the best interests of you all and English Karate. I look forward to seeing as many of you there on Saturday as possible.

Remember, “it takes good men to do nothing for wickedness to prevail”

Yours in budo

Greg Francis BEM JP

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