The Crisis At Otters Aquatic Club: Another Turn
A MEMBER OF THE OTTERS CLUB FOR 20 YEARS SPEAKS UP: I believe, as past committee members we have to be cautious when we point fingers at other individual members, committees or for that matter the club. The club is a sacred institution and above all the most important focal point. Committees may come and go but the club must go on. Any club is prone to face issues from time to time. These issues happen in Sri Lanka and all over the world. Even Manchester United and Chelsea, two of the biggest sports clubs in the world face huge debts. Despite same, no past president/ secretary or committee members go out the way to ridicule the standing of the club.
I also find it rather confusing how one committee or one member can change the status quo of the past debts. It will take time, but sanity must prevail. The general public at large cannot provide a solution to what the Otters is going through. Only the membership will get affected. It is unlikely that any philanthropist will dole out monies to pay past dues. So for the love of the club, it’s time to sit down and talk one on one. Together we can find the answers that need to keep Otters, our club alive.
By Dilini Perera
The crises at Otters Aquatic Club has now taken a new twist with members of the executive committee of the club coming forth to deny allegations of financial trouble and corruption at the club.
The Sunday Leader last week highlighted the crises and the internal squabbles at Otters Aquatic Club.
Since the individual who we contacted could not speak on behalf of the committee, The Sunday Leader sat down with the President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee and Accountant of the Otters Aquatic Club in order to hear their side of the story.
First and foremost they stated that the three most important issues, the land lease, VAT and the issue of the nomination, that were brought up in last week’s article could not be discussed due to the matters being before court.
When asked why they had thanked several ministers and other figures for helping find a solution to the land lease problem, they replied that they were expecting a favourable decision and therefore had to thank those who had been helpful in speeding up the process. With regard to the profits and losses of events that were held by the club, it was stated that since the dance, in particular, was the 75th anniversary, extra expenditure was necessary to ensure its success. It was also stated that the air tickets given away during the dance was sponsored and the draw was fair since numbers and not names were pulled out. “Over 80 percent of the tickets were bought by the committee, so our numbers coming out of the draw is not surprising”. They also said that the winner has still not picked up the first prize, even though it was presented at the dance.
The committee also said that all clubs incur losses at some point or another and that it is an inevitability when running a recreational establishment. The committee also addressed the issue of the annual report not being send to the members. They said that Jeff Jacotine himself had not sent it to the members during his tenure as the General secretary and that the present committee had amended the constitution in order to save on printing costs. When discussing the cost of the security system, the committee members stated that security costs have already come down since its installation and since security had to be hired in order to monitor the CCTV.
The committee was in agreement that Jacotine “had tarnished the entire membership of the club” and is a hypocrite since there were losses in profit and land lease problems during his time as the General Secretary of the club. In response to these clarifications, Jacotine stated “I decided not to send the accounts to the members, but I did send everything else”. He also said that the club should not exemplify the situation of other sports and recreational clubs, since Otters is in a different situation.
He also said that during his time, when the security expenditure was questioned, he was accused of receiving a cut from the money that was spent.
“They accused me of taking 25,000 from that cost. If that is so, how much are they making on the millions they are spending?”
“We don’t have government backing. Certain clubs can run at a loss because they can afford it. We cannot.” Jacotine also mentioned that the committee members win unfairly in competitions and that it isn’t ethical with regard to the rest of the membership. His request to be present at the meeting and express his point of view was allegedly denied.
Jacotine stands by his allegation that the committee is unconstitutional and is determined to hang on to power.