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Trust Launches Community Ownership Statement

DSC 0306Newcastle United Supporters' Trust last week publicly launched their statement of intent setting out their ambitions for Community Ownership and what it means for the future of Newcastle United.

See a copy of Community Ownership Statement here

At a conference held in Newcastle, attended by football supporters from around the country, different ownership models were discussed and the role of supporters in owning their clubs was passionately debated. The Trust has long advocated that supporters should have a greater role in the running of football clubs. We believe that Newcastle United should be a club at the centre of our community, existing for the benefit of its supporters, the City and the local community it serves. A club that values its supporters as long term custodians of the club, a club that works with our local MPs, the city council, local businesses and seeks to work with local clubs to develop and retain talent in the region. A club that strives for excellence on and off the pitch.

The conference heard Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the Football Supporters Federation, report on what the Government's Expert Working Group had recommended. More importantly he opened proceedings by explaining that whatever legal minefield surrounds supporters buying their football club, it was recognised the world over that this is not about legal and technical business issues. There is an emotional context to the world of football that recognises that football clubs belong to football supporters.

Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead, speaking as both a Member of Parliament and a lifelong Newcastle United fan explained how he was hoping to raise the profile of football supporters as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporter Issues. In a week when the brave families of the Hillsborough 96 had shown that the voices of football supporters can be heard above the voice of the Establishment, Ian confirmed that he would be working to help ensure that football supporter issues would not be ignored and wherever possible he will ensure access to Ministers is available.

Frank Beattie told us about the realities of having a place on the Board at Carlisle United and the lessons learned over the years as owners changed and new agreements with supporters were put in place. "Build a war chest, build bridges and work with whoever you have to," said Frank but his overriding message was... "you must work in the best interests of the football club."

We then heard about some amazing goings on at Leeds United. Howard Nelson didn't have time to cover the whole Leeds United back-story through their recent list of owners whose actions have been questionable to say the least, and continue to be so. He did list for us the ownership options that are out there and have been explored by the Leeds Fans United Consortium:

  • Benevolent billionaire – few and far between and invariably bring "ego" baggage. (Don't we know it!)
  • Large Corporate – "brand" issues and shareholder responsibilities.
  • Leeds fan base – lacking depth of funds.
  • Wealthy Leeds fan in partnership with the fans – "the dream ticket."

We may think we have problems with our current owner, part of Howards message was "be careful what you wish for".

Brian Cormack and Garry Halliday then told us the fantastic story of the Foundation of Hearts. They've saved their club from administration and have a plan for the fans to own the major shareholding in five years. Their current owner is a fan, bought the club to save it from an allegedly crazy Russian owner, and is selling it to the fans as they raise the money. Interestingly, one of their first actions was to change the club's sponsor........from Wonga!

We then heard about what is probably the most successful major sports club in the north east region which was saved by its fans and the local community, Durham County Cricket Club. David Harker, Chief Executive, outlined for delegates the journey the club had been on. They've moved from a minor county club operating on an amateur level to a premier professional club at the top of their game. In cricket, it's clear that a connection with the fans is essential even though their ongoing development has meant the introduction of different people taking the club forward with external investors now being the major shareholders.
David asked an important question which reflected much of what had gone before..."Do you need a point of crisis to create the momentum for greater fan involvement in club ownership?"

What would be our point of crisis? TV money and UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules mean there is less chance of clubs in the top levels of football facing financial ruin. Even relegation is unlikely to be regarded as enough of a crisis to require fans to become Toon saviours.

What the Supporters' Trust does want is to form an alliance of those interested in securing the future of Newcastle United as a Community Club. We believe the basic preconditions are in place and the club can be run successfully and developed further using its own income and resources. What we need is an owner willing to engage with fans and to recognise their responsibilities to engage with the local community and play a part in regenerating the city of Newcastle and the Tyneside area rather than simply showcasing the business interests of a sports retail company.

Our statement of Community Ownership sets out our vision and we will continue to work to identify those who are interested in forming an alliance to take the vision forward. Contact the Trust at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you believe you can help.

 

Thirty's Plenty!

20 plentyLast month NUST reported on the latest position in relation to the FSF campaign 'twentys plenty' (here). We are pleased to report that following further representations the Premier League has agreed to cap the price of away tickets at £30 for the next three seasons, a decision reached in advance of widespread protests from fans planned for next weekend and ahead of the next Premier League meeting.

Norman Watson, Chair of NUST stated "we are pleased to see a cap on the price of away tickets after pressure from supporters of all clubs, co-ordinated by the FSF. This will help towards making away travel more affordable for fans, particularly those who follow their clubs on a regular basis"

 

NUST 2016 Elections Update

nust logo smallAs you know NUST recently announced an election process to recruit 6 Board members.

At the end of the nomination period we received 3 completed nominations. As such there is no need for an election to take place.

The Board will in due course ratify Peter Fanning, Michael Martin and Colin Whittle are re-appointed as Board members.

 

Newcastle United Supporters' Trust 2016 Elections Announced

nust_logo_smallThe NUST formally announces the election process for the appointment of Trust Board Members as announced at the 2016 AGM on 20th January 2016.

There are 6 Trust Board positions to be filled and candidates are standing for a position on the Trust Board only, not specific roles.

All eligible NUST members have been sent an email or a letter (if no email address held) announcing the 2016 elections with all the relevant details.

Any member interested in nominating a candidate or voting must be at least 16 years of age and a fully paid up member of the NUST as of 20th January 2016. Should you wish to run as a candidate then you must be at least 18 years of age and a fully paid up NUST member as of 20th January 2016.

Even if you’re not interested in standing for a place on the Trust Board please take an interest in these elections; this is your Trust and elected individuals will be representing your interests together with the aims and objectives of the NUST.

All relevant information can be found in the election section of our website

 

Magpies in Europe!

BSC1We recently had an e-mail from Metodi Angelov, the Chairman of the Newcastle Supporters Group in Bulgaria. The Trust helped a group of them get to the Chelsea match earlier this season and they keep in touch with us about supporting Newcastle from a distance and are members of the Trust. They recently got together to play in a charity football tournament between fans groups and sent us a report.

The tournament took place over a weekend in November and the Newcastle team reached the quarter finals where they were beaten by fans of Real Madrid. Earlier they had drawn 3-3 with Manchester United fans and beat FC 851 3-1. In both games they fought back from being behind but their win came at a price as the goalkeeper ended up with a broken nose after a bad challenge.

In the next round the Bulgarian Magpies beat the Law Faculty of Sofia University after a penalty shoot-out to progress into the quarter finals. A spirited show against Real Madrid looked like an upset might be on the cards but after some questionable refereeing decisions the Real Madrid fans finally took control and ran out 5-2 winners. The tournament was won by the Inter Milan fan group and also included fans of Chelsea, Liverpool and even Sunderland! Support for our Bulgarian Magpies included a dog named Baby Diva who whilst generally well behaved, managed to get into a fight with a dog belonging to the Sunderland fans, so that shows signs of canine loyalty to the cause!

The tournament raised over 6000 Euros for a charity for Autistic Children and I think we should all pass on our congratulations to our Bulgarian friends for their great efforts. There is to be another tournament in the Spring and we look forward to hearing about how the Bulgarian Magpies do.

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