Thank you Bejjinks for sharing your impressive personal story. I sense your concerns for this project. My response is not so much a personal story, but more an addition from a professional point of view, because I too share your concerns. A big hug for you!
Bejjinks makes a strong appeal to the people, who’s hands are on the helm of this project and decide on its future direction. By the way, it is not clear to me who officially runs this project: the University of Warwick Boat Club, Sport Allies, some other legal entity (foundation or trust) or a person? Whoever is or should be involved in the decision making process must be aware that there are serious concerns in your fan base about an apparently unavoidable transition into a new era. Bejjinks is one of them, who happens to be able to put them to words in a very appealing manner. The one-liner “people are always afraid of changes / reluctant to changes” would be an easy reply, but that is not a justified response to these concerns. If we communicate in one-liners I can add one myself: Every improvement started with a change, but not every change led to an improvement. Back to square one then? No, not entirely. It just learns us not to think too light-heartedly about a process of change. Just as the principle of diversity in a sporting environment can enrich the team and lead to better results, the same principle applies to an executive board and that is not restricted to just corporate executive boards. Consensus amongst the majority of the various stakeholder improves the chances of success significantly. This requires clear planning and communication of the transition and its objectives. The planning may include acknowledgement of hazards and not just of opportunities, scale of production, differentiation of product lines, decisions on outsourcing, staff numbers, relocation, (provisional) limits on the (international) expansion of activities or markets, distribution channels, client communication, improving IT facilities, financial impacts, tax implications, further professionalization of staff and board members, clear division of responsibilities and tasks of both staff and board members, introduction of certain procedures, an adapted public affairs approach and possibly acceptance of a partial loss of the original fan base, to name just a few L. Such a plan can include process monitoring, feed-back and process control measures, that just may exceed the skills and/or available (spare) time of the current staff and board members. Don’t let all this discourage you from doing what is necessary. Many boxes can be ticked off by “No” or “Not applicable” once given serious consideration. That too adds to a clear plan. It can all be done. I am not a pessimist by nature and I do speak from experience. I have been chairman (unpaid) of a small but officially recognized charity for the last 14 years and have been able to put my professional experience and formal education (MSc in business economics and management) to good use there. I would like to encourage you therefore with another one-liner: Perfect Planning Prevents Pathetic Performance J !
Just one last spontaneous suggestion: if all this becomes way too complex, you can franchise the WR concept step by step to other sports and work together under the common umbrella of the Sport Allies brand. Warwick Rowers can keep their own identity and fan base next to the hockey players, rugby players etcetera. It can be worthwhile exploring this idea, because there is a number of other potential advantages too.