|VOTING ON THE FUTURE
(Friday 11th June 2004)
Wycombe Wanderers members have been called to an EGM on Monday 14th June to vote on a proposal to allow postal voting at future General Meetings and in particular at the major reconstruction vote scheduled for an EGM on 12th July 2004.
Under the current 'Articles of Association' Wycombe Wanderers members must give their vote personally and proxies are not allowed. The proposal is to append the words "or by Postal Vote" after the words "given personally" and a new sentence will be inserted stating "Members who have submitted a postal vote and attend a meeting shall not be permitted to vote personally."
The Club state that the purpose of this resolution "is to ensure that the greatest number of members are able to cast their vote" but the move came as a shock to some members who see postal voting as a way of levering any vote in the direction of Board recommendation.
The Board have attempted to alleviate this type of criticisms by suggesting a procedure that would see members who wish to vote by post make an application in writing to the Company Secretary at least seven days prior to any General Meeting. The Club would then return a voting paper which would have to be posted back after completion by the member in a 'special envelope' provided.
However, despite these procedures there is still an uneasy feeling amongst members that the Club may not be seen as acting in a fair and proper manner during possibly the most important stage of its professional existence.
Ironically, the debate on postal voting at Wycombe Wanderers comes at a time when the British Government has been criticised for some ill feeling surrounding the introduction of localised postal voting for the EU and local elections that took place on 10th June. Accusations aimed at the Labour Party claim fraudulant voting and malpractice, although these remain largely unproven.
Wanderers officials will want to avoid such wild accusations but will have to convince members that their procedures are watertight, protect the integrity of the Club and not lead to possible legal challenges. It's also been suggested that a postal vote will water down the debate and although it may allow more people to vote it could also allow people to vote without being fully informed.
The vote by whatever means will require 75% of those voting to be in favour of the special resolution for it be carried. The Club have suffered two losses in similar votes in recent years. In October 1995 a proposal was tabled to reduce the maximum number of members from 500 to 250. Club Chairman Ivor Beeks claimed at the time "We don't want any group or groups buying up shares, that would not be good for the Club. At the moment we have a cross section of people running the Club and I felt if we limited the number of shares that would remain the position." The vote was lost by the narrowest of margins and only after a poll had been demanded by members. The poll saw 74 members vote in favour of the proposal from the 100 members present that evening.
In the summer of 1998 another special resolution was proposed that attempted to bring the Articles of Association "up to date with current needs". Concerns were expressed by some members including a question of the qualification criteria for membership and the right of appeal against expulsion. An independent lawyer speaking against the proposal commented to the Bucks Free Press at the time "It is important that the members turn off their televisions and go to the meeting. It's a very important night in the Club's future. It might seem less sexy than Wycombe reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup might be, but it is rather more important." A show of hands at an EGM on 17th June 1998 saw 140 for and 58 against - still under the 75% requirement. Again a poll was called for with the Board delaying this until 15th July 1998 in order to try and allow more members to vote. However, once again the resolution was rejected with 144 voting in favour and 87 against - equating to 62% in favour.
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