Cui Bono

By David

The title of this story is a well-known Latin phrase meaning “to whose benefit”. It came to mind as I thumbed through the Swimming New Zealand 2014 financial accounts. Now I know there are many swimming people who view the pages of Swimwatch as the ranting of an obsessed lunatic. Nevill Sutton, the boss of the Coaches Association takes great pride in telling anyone who will listen that he never reads the blog. For him it probably is pornography. I suspect there is nothing I could say that would convince these patriots that Swimming New Zealand might be wrong; might even be way worse than wrong.

Perhaps swimming people of this persuasion might like to take the advice of Deep Throat in the Watergate investigation of President Nixon, “Follow the money.” What do the 2014 accounts tell us about how Layton and Renford are running Miskimmin’s swimming empire? The accounts are revealing. I think they indicate exactly the path the sport of swimming is about to follow. See what you think. Here are some figures for you to consider; figures that I suspect Layton and Renford would prefer remained hidden on the back pages of the Swimming New Zealand website.

  1. The table below shows the membership of Swimming New Zealand over the past four years. Layton and Renford continue to do a sterling job of shrinking the Miskimmin swimming empire. In the past four years the number of individuals involved in the sport has declined by an average of 1271 individuals or 6.0% per year.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

Numbers

21141

21879

18200

17329

% Change

-

Plus 3.5%

Minus 16.8%

Minus 4.8%

  1. The table below shows the money swimming received from Peter Miskimmin. For several years the pages of Swimwatch have argued that the financial support from Sport New Zealand is not based on need or performance. Support, I have argued, is determined by the extent that Miskimmin’s personal agenda and power are linked to swimming. It seems that Miskimmin will pay whatever it takes to prove his policy is right. In a period when Swimming New Zealand’s performance has declined to the embarrassment that was Glasgow and Brisbane in 2014 Miskimmin has poured more and more money at the problem. Over the past four years Sport New Zealand has increased its funding of swimming by an average of $133,000 or 6.8% per year. The total is now a staggering $2.5 million. Swimwatch appears to be right. If Miskimmin is personally invested in the sport, no matter what the results, he will pay.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

1,962.838

2,233,879

2,389,813

2,495,292

% Change

-

Plus 13.8%

Plus 7%

Plus 4.4%

  1. So the money has gone up. But, in Miskimmin’s swimming empire, what have Layton and Renford spent it on; the swimmers, I wonder? Not on your life they haven’t. The table below shows the amount spent on financially supporting individual swimmers; a program called PEGS. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has decreased the funding of individual swimmers by an average of $37,000 or 11.6% per year.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

317,584

295,344

296,948

170,799

% Change

-

Minus 7%

Minus 0.5%

Minus 42.8%

  1. But what about the swimmers “Rewards” scheme; the program that recognizes outstanding swimming achievements? Perhaps that has gone up? But I’m afraid not. That’s plummeted like a broken elevator as well. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has decreased the “Rewards” funding by an average of $30,000 or 22.8% per year.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

132,036

32,093

35,466

11,500

% Change

-

Minus 75.7%

Plus 10.5%

Minus 67.6%

  1. Well, if the swimmers haven’t got the money. What have Layton and Renford spent our money on? The answer is in two parts, either we don’t know or they have spent it on themselves in the form of cars, wages and consultants. But first the bit that we don’t know about. In Swimming New Zealand’s accounts there is an item called “Other”. What “Other” is we don’t know. What we do know is that in Miskimmin’s swimming empire “Other” has done very well. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has increased the funding of “Other” by an average of $62,000 or 16.9% per year. The 2014 increase in “Other” is a stunning 129.8%.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

364,982

253,576

266,030

611,432

% Change

-

Minus 30.5%

Plus 4.9%

Plus 129.8%

  1. And then there is consultants and marketing. I remember a lecturer in my class at the London School of Economics telling me, “Beware of companies that spend on consultants.” I wonder what he’d say about Swimming New Zealand in 2014. In the category called “Consultants, Communication, Marketing” spending has gone up faster than an Indian probe to Mars. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has increased the amount they have spent here by an average of $62,000 or 16.9% per year. The 2014 increase in the Consultancy category is a spectacular 89.2%.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

49,753

49,806

59,107

111,840

% Change

-

Plus 0.1%

Plus 18.7%

Plus 89.2%

  1. So how has good old “Administration” fared under the rule of Layton and Renford? How much has the sport spent in the office? It seems, “not too badly at all” is the answer. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has increased the amount spent on “Administration” by an average of $65,000 or 15.5% per year. The 2014 increase in the Consultancy category is a striking 75.1%. The numbers seem to confirm the Swimwatch view that all is not well at 17 Antares Place.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

420,674

358,678

389,525

682,099

% Change

-

Minus 14.7%

Plus 8.6%

Plus 75.1%

  1. And finally my favorite subject – that new fleet of Mazda SUVs. Do the figures confirm the impressive car park of shinning Japanese horsepower? It seems they certainly do. Over the past four years Swimming New Zealand has increased its commitment to automotive industry leases by an average of $14,000 or 15.2% per year. The 2014 increase in the “Operating Lease Commitments” category is an unbelievable 53.2%. The numbers suggest that the “Mazda Mob” title for our esteemed leadership has been well earned.

Year

2011

2012

2013

2014

$ Numbers

94,934

73,194

71,460

152,586

% Change

-

Minus 22.9%

Plus 2.4%

Plus 53.2%

So there it is. We have followed the money and look what we have found. It is not a good look. This 2014 financial record is characterized by

  • A huge decrease in spending on the core activity of competitive swimming.

  • A massive increase in the cost of administration and perks such as flash cars.

  • A government committed to covering Swimming New Zealand’s costs irrespective of performance.

The whole report is a tragedy. When a swimmer of mine had to spend $2000 to swim for her country in her home pool and was ordered by the Mazda Mob to buy her own New Zealand cap; when the Swimming New Zealand Chairman, Layton, makes great play in the Report of telling us SNZ made a surplus of $18,000 compared to $16,000 last year when he knows the surpluses, the losses, the spending, the cars and the salaries; the whole diseased bundle was bankrolled but a government zealot hell bent on proving his centralist philosophy works – when all that happens the organization will never work. In this instance Swimwatch is right. Just follow the money; cui bono, to whose benefit.

  • Ringo Battersby

    This is an outrage, how dare they not dive Prius’s. Do these Barbarians ever think of the Children!
    Seriously though I.M.O.we should be looking closely at how countries like, Slovenia, Serbia, Tunisia, Trinidad & Tobago, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, have won Olympic swimming medals since we last won one, that is send the best kids to the best coaches all around the world. Worked for Anthony Nesty out of Suriname in 1988, fingers crossed for Lauren Boyle and Main in Rio.
    In fact, the list is endless of swimmers, some from big swimming countries that send swimmers around the world to train… Cavic, Sun, Park, Kitajima, Schoeman, Van Den Burgh, Manoudou.
    Those leased cars would pay for many kids to go to University in USA, or at least flights home to see family or other costs.
    This is not some high barrier to entry sport like Yachting, Rowing or Track Cycling, the big squad system will never work here there is just too much depth (250,000 12 year olds in the states trying to be the next Phelps up at 5am each morning alone) and competition from around the world. In my opinion we will never have more then six to eight world class swimmers at any one time, so having two HP bases is just ridiculous. At best a junior talent programme and then the free bird scenario at 18 take the money and get out of Mairangi Bay think BIG.
    Good work here David, these are eye watering numbers once in the sunlight really.

  • James T

    I am in complete agreement with Ringo B! Every one of our rising athletes should be engaged early by our supposed athlete development specialists and fully informed of what their options might be in terms of off shore training, esepcially the US Collegiate system. Sadly they are not and then when they realise that the SNZ performance programmes are just a dead end to nowhere it is too late and those internstional options are no longer available to them.

    Our young and rising stars and their families need to know that these options are valid and supported as one of our legitimate (and favoured) athlete development pathways – not discouraged and frowned upon. I know of many who over the years have had our SNZ leaders actively impede their ability to take up international options only to find out too late that the SNZ’s promises of it being better here where hollow and could not be sustained.

    Let’s lay our nationalist hubris aside and recognise that we cannot do it as well as everybody else, cut out the ‘penis envy’ that invades the ranks of our coaches and actively encourage our young athletes to pursue options which will genuinely enhance not just their swimming careers but also their options for life.

    David just remind us again how well four years at WSU worked out for Jane and how much did it cost the NZ taxpayer?