In 2010 the Framework for investing in English sports facilities was announced by the FA, Football Foundation and the RFU. It was not popular with contractors and SAPCA. It placed the emphasis on the manufacturer to take responsibility for his product from start to finish. But is it working?
So far fewer schemes have started than was envisaged, so no one can be happy here and perhaps this may result in reduced funding in future years. Those schemes that have proceeded have done so with mixed success, not helped by rumours circulated by contractors against their rivals. Nothing seems to have changed.
I know the intention of this Framework is to drive better value for the user, manager and investor, but until many more are completed we cannot say if this is happening. But we can say that all you hear from those contractors who have not won work is that they lost out on price. And this is exactly what is wrong at present. The fact that it is the contractor moaning not the manufacturer indicates nothing has changed. It is still the contractor who is driving the bus, pulling the strings, making the noise. The Framework was meant to be about the manufacturer, and it is their voice that should be heard.
Of course when the main part of the industry is against something the enlightened views of governing bodies means little. In fact certain contractors view individuals within the funding bodies with contempt, and this is hardly conducive to a good working relationship. In talking with a European manufacturer from outside the Framework companies he stated his amazement at how bad the UK contractors are. The essence of his concern revolved around trust, honesty, attitude, behaviour, integrity and performance. His company operates in several other construction sectors and he said he had not witnessed an industry as bad for these attributes as the UK pitch builders.
Now let me qualify this further. He did say, and this is also borne out by others, that there are some good guys around, whose word means something, who understand how to behave and most importantly work with clients to achieve the best results and value. By and large these companies are not driven by volume, jealousy and vendettas but by a passion to achieve high and deliver high standards.
Sadly when the Framework was drawn up the usual PQQ came into play. If only manufacturers and contractors could be chosen based on relationship, pure performance and reputation. If only there was a way to sense check and determine the good guys from the bad, perhaps this industry would be all the better and the bad guys would be drummed out. As it is a manufacturer determined to keep his volumes up will chose the contractor most likely to bring him more business, rather than the one best placed to provide the right performance for the Framework.
The Framework will go on. I sincerely hope that those involved at ground level make it work. I also hope that the funders have the strength and legal resource to impose penalties for poor performance and attitude. After all here are still plenty of pitches yet to be built and opportunities for everyone.
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