There’s always more than one viewpoint…

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April 9, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread

Well, following on from yesterday’s piece regarding the proposed Supporters Trust, it’s fair to say I’ve learned a great deal. After posting a link to my article on the Nottingham Forest Supporters Group Facebook page – a page that currently boasts 17,822 members – the subsequent comments ranged from “What meeting?” to “It’s a closed shop.

Some members were unaware anything was going on, while others thought not enough notice had been given to allow people to attend. Richard Antcliff was good enough to respond, indicating that, while the meeting was advertised using various Social Media and Press outlets, perhaps even more could have been done to advertise the event. He went on to say that a greater effort would be made in the future to give fans more notice of any upcoming events.

Insofar as fans’ assumptions of the Trust being a “job for the boys“, I’ve indicated via the comments section of the above Facebook page that a separate article will be posted on this site to give fans a clearer picture of the Trust process as I see it, in the hope more people can become aware of what’s involved.

With this in mind though, please can I draw your attention to a comment made on this site with regards to my original piece about the Supporters Trust. Here it is in full. It makes for very interesting reading.

I notice in your article that you say ‘disappointingly’ that person was a representative of the Supporters Club. That person was me, and whilst I am an official of my local branch I was at the meeting in my own right, NOT representing the SC.
When I first heard about the possible formation of a Trust, I did some research so that I could make an informed decision because I believe that just blindly following the herd can be a mistake.
As I mentioned last night, I actually wrote to several supporters clubs to see what their relationship with the supporters trust was like. I found that in a large number of cases, supporters clubs had folded completely after a period of time. I also found that in one particular case, the trust had so alienated the owner that he had put the club up for sale, no longer attended matches, had closed the boardroom for visiting chairmen and directors, and more importantly to me as a fan, had withdrawn all benefits that supporters club members had previously enjoyed, i.e cheaper tickets, discounts in the club shop, players evenings at branches etc.
I also discovered that with that particular football club, membership of it’s Supporters Club had fallen from around 3000 to just over a thousand since the formation of the trust. I do not want that to happen to my club.
I want to say at this stage that in principle I actually agree with Supporters Trusts, I know that on many occasions they have been a lifeline to clubs. Those depicted in the presentations last night were all such clubs, Wycombe, Portsmouth, Bradford City, Swansea, Leicester City etc., etc. The common denominator with all of those clubs is that they were all heading for administration or extinction. Forest is not a club like that, indeed we are in FFP because we spent too much not because we have to little. Whilst I would applaud a trust with some owners, I do not think there will be any benefit from a body such as this with our current owner. I truly hope I am wrong.
One of the objectives of the Trust (amongst other things) is for better dialogue with the club and to instigate change, in fact , to have a voice. That is also the aim of the Supporters Clubs that have been in operation for many decades and yet to my knowledge, NONE of the instigators of the Trust has ever put themselves forward for election to become officials of the main branch of the SC. We are also a democratic organisation and anyone can be elected onto it, just as the trust intends.
With my supporters club head on I fear that our members will desert us for this new all singing all dancing group, I cannot see the average supporter investing their valuable incomes to subscribe to two similar organisations. I was delighted to hear Richard say that the Trust want to co-operate with the SC’s and I sincerely hope that is the case, but he also said that no contact had been made prior to the meeting last night, Why?. Information sent out to the branches, the very core of Forest’s support was poor, Rita Kirk General Secretary of the main branch said at the meeting that she had received nothing from the trust prior to the meeting, this was also the case at my branch even though I had personally given our secretary’s e mail address to them.
Thankfully we live in a democratic world, and democracy resoundingly won last night, I have no complaints. I sincerely hope that everything goes well and both the Supporters Club and the newly formed Supporters Trust can work hand in hand. One thing is for sure, both organisations can rely on my 100% support.
I am extremely proud to be a Forest fan and season ticket holder of over 50 years standing, I am proud of our heritage. I LOVE my club and support them home and away, including pre season tours, through thick and thin.
I made my mind up to vote no last night based on what I heard, what I had researched, and as an individual not as a representative of the supporters club. That is what democracy is all about so I am sorry if you were disappointed, but please don’t be disappointed because I am a member of the supporters club. We give many many hours of our time unpaid, (which may not be true of the Supporters Trust because their constitution allows for paid officials) dedicating ourselves to our members needs, and for the betterment of relationships between ourselves and our beloved football club, and we will continue to do so.

I indicated in my reply that I’d like to respond in a separate article, rather than hide it away in a comments section. A comment of this calibre deserves a proper response and I hope this article is deemed to be one. Firstly, I’ll hold my hands up and say I rather naively assumed this particular gentleman was representing the Supporters Club. For this I apologise both to the gentleman who responded to my article and to the Supporters Club.

There is nothing I can say about the points raised in the above. All are well informed and raise a greater question regarding the co-existance of a Supporters Club and a Supporters Trust. It seems there’s a great deal to be learned from previous experiences of other football clubs and there are examples of successes and failures where the formation of a Trust is concerned and its relationship with an existing Supporters Club. As Ian Bason indicated in the meeting, both are able to exist within the Leicester City framework, but there are also examples where this has not happened.

There’s clearly a need for dialogue and now we have some semblance of the hopes of the Trust and the Supporters Club going forward, the sooner all relevant individuals can get together to establish formal lines of communication the better it will (hopefully) be.

I’m very grateful to this gentleman for taking the time to write such a detailed comment and hope I’ve been able to bring his concerns to a wider audience. I know my site isn’t the first port of call for Forest fans. I use the aforementioned Facebook page and Twitter in the hope these writings reach a wider audience. On a good day I may get upwards of 50 individual visitors and if it’s a piece of particular interest it may reach over 100 visitors. I’m only writing about the numbers now because this is an important issue and it deserves to reach as many people as possible. Only when we are aware of all viewpoints can we make an informed decision.

I don’t do this for the numbers. I do this because I care about our club and hope people will be interested in what I may have to say. We, as writers, hope they are a springboard for debate. In this particular case, I hope this is a springboard for dialogue between fans with a common interest, who can hopefully co-exist within their respective groups for the greater good of this fine club.

Thank you for reading. COME ON YOU REDS!!!


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