Blackballed banker could tee off here

Of dear. Fred has been blackballed by a golf club.

No, not a golf club. You could say the golf club. The Royal and Ancient, no less.

Yep. Sir Fred Goodwin, the bloke who seems to have botched things as boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is at the centre of a row over his attempts to join one of the world’s most illustrious golf clubs.

After Sir Fred’s role in the collapse of RBS was revealed, resentment towards him began to grow on the fairways of Fife.

The Eketahuna golf course -  you can come and play here, Sir Fred.

The Eketahuna golf course - you can come and play here, Sir Fred.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews is known as the home of golf and has an illustrious history dating back more than 250 years. So it is hardly surprising that the former head of one of Britain’s biggest banks would want to enjoy his retirement as a member of the hallowed Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

But an application to join by Sir Fred Goodwin – the shamed former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland – has ignited a fierce row at the august, highly secretive club, which has 2,400 members worldwide.

Alf posted an item here in February, after the Royal Bank of Scotland – bailed out by the British Government last year – announced the largest annual loss in British corporate history. The small matter of £24.1bn.

The size of the loss pissed off many Poms, because of the size of Sir Fred’s pension – he had been allowed to retire late last year with a pension pot worth £16m, which works out at £693,000 a year.

And despite the furore, he was not going to give it back.

The pension payout to Goodwin hinged on the basis that he was allowed to retire early rather than being ousted, which may have reduced the size of the payment, says the Guardian.

Sir Fred therefore is making plain he feels legally and morally entitled to his full pension.

Come forward a few weeks, and The Times tells us

Sir Fred Goodwin has had any hopes of whiling away his retirement at the home of golf dashed after his name was reportedly taken off the waiting list to join the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

An application by the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland to tee off at St Andrews caused an outcry among members, some of whom allegedly dismissed him as “damaged goods”.

They wrote outraged letters to the club’s management committee, which determines whether applicants are suitable to join, calling for Sir Fred, 50, to be blackballed. His name has reportedly been taken off the waiting list, but it was unclear last night whether this had been done with his blessing.

One member said: “I would guess he’s pulled out because of the row over his membership. A lot of people feel strongly that he should not be allowed to join.”

It seems Sir Fred had been waiting for five years to join the R&A. Trouble is…

Many of the club’s 2,400 members will have been among the shareholders at RBS, also based in Edinburgh, who saw the value of their shares plunge in the final year of Sir Fred’s tenure.

And let’s don’t forget the matter of the £16 million pension, which he refused to relinquish.

So he is in very bad odour, within The Establishment.
The forfeiture committee, the honours watchdog, is to consider whether he should be stripped of his knighthood, and students at Glasgow University have called for his honorary degree to be rescinded, too.

Alf feels sorry for him. Well, almost.

He will be writing to Sir Fred to invite him to come and live in Eketahuna and play golf on our splendid golf course.

But not to resume his banking career.

As Alf wrote here in December, his sympathy for the banks and the bankers who run them went out the window when Eketahuna set up its own money exchange (we’re a resourceful bunch) because the big banks bridled at setting up shop here.

The buggers wouldn’t even provide an automatic teller machine.

So we introduced our own money exchange, as a substitute for the banking facilities which we lost when the Bank of New Zealand shut its branch 11 years ago.

But we are not so desperate as to put our banking in the hands of Sir Fred.

No, Alf will be inviting Sir Fred here only for the golf.

We let sheep wander around on the course, and as Mrs Banglethorp said at at a recent committee meeting, wouldn’t it be nice to have a black sheep or two join the flock?

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