The Chelsea Supporters Trust – Make Your Voice Heard!

The Chelsea Supporters Trust – Make Your Voice Heard!
Saturday 9th February 17.45 (after the Wigan game)
CIU club, 71, Britannia Road, SW6 2JR (3 minutes from ground)
Launch Meeting with special guest: Kerry Dixon

Fed up with Chelsea fans having no effective dialogue with the club?

Frustrated that decisions that affect you are made with little or no supporter input?


Want to be part of a democratically elected, fully accountable supporter’s organisation?

 

Well, now is the chance to do something about it. The Chelsea Supporters Trust has now done all the boring but necessary legal stuff and will be open for membership from Saturday 9th February (after the Wigan game).  Aha, I hear you ask, why do we need a Trust when there are already a number of Chelsea supporters organisations?
We believe there are significant advantages to Trust membership, including:-
·         All members get the chance to democratically participate, with regular meetings, annual elections and one person, one vote built into the constitution (which has recently been approved by the Financial Services Authority) – thereby ensuring the elected board is held to account;
·         Members decide on Trust priorities and campaigns;
·         Membership is open to all Chelsea supporters in the UK & Overseas. Affiliation is open to all supporters groups as well as fanzines, websites, podcasts, blogs etc.;
·         There is a credibility that comes with being part of a wider, more powerful network of supporters trusts (most PL clubs have one) and the liaison with Supporters Direct;
·         The opportunity to actively hold the club to account with professional representation e.g. the opportunity to interpret and explain club accounts etc to members;
·         The opportunity to build close links with the local community (residents, businesses, charities, local authorities etc);
·         Regular communication with members through newsletters, social media etc. Social events (quizzes etc.);
·         The Trust has met with club executives and has already been granted membership of the Fans Forum from 2013/14. We will also be working to have a more effective, on-going, two-way dialogue with the club.
What does the Chelsea Supporters Trust aim to achieve?
Our current objectives include:-
·         Build better communication channels between club and supporters
·         Work to improve the reputation of the club with the media
·         Build an effective working relationship with the Supporters Liaison Officer;
·         Improve two way communication for the benefit of supporters and the Club and build effective relationships with other stakeholders, including the local community;
·         Actively promote sale of CPO shares to supporters;
·         To have an elected supporters’ representative on the CPO board;
·         To have an elected supporters representative on the board of Chelsea Football Club in the long term
To join the Chelsea Supporters Trust, or find out more about it, you are invited to our launch meeting.
          

Notes of CFCST Open Meeting held on Sunday 28th Oct 2012


Here are the notes of the latest CFCST open meeting.  If you have any questions, please e-mail them to cfcstrust@gmail.com – we will aim to respond within 24 hours.

1.  Activity since last meeting

1.1  Website
Cliff Auger advised that discussions re a proper website (as opposed to the current primitive blog) are underway. Celia Mindelsohn will work with Stuart Kinner to progress the site, which will incorporate a straightforward process in terms of joining the trust.

1.2  Overseas Supporters
David Chidgey has contacted a wide variety of supporters groups at home and overseas. Feedback received has been favourable.  One key challenge will be to ensure that overseas membership is actively encouraged. There were Chelsea supporters at the meeting from Brazil, The USA and Australia, who were supportive of the idea of a trust.
1.3  Meeting With Other Trusts
Paul Jeffrey and Ross Mooring went to a meeting two weeks ago with representatives of some other PL trusts, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Fulham. At present, 12 PL clubs currently have trusts. There are quarterly PL trust meetings to which the PL themselves are invited.  Other trusts offered to come and talk to this meeting, but it was felt the time wasn’t right at this stage, and we should focus on setting up our own trust.

2.  Aims & Objectives

A draft set of aims and objectives were circulated in advance of the meeting.  These have been revised in the light of feedback received and the second draft is listed below. If anyone has any comments, additions or suggestions, please e-mail cfcstrust@gmail.com by Friday 2nd November.

The CFCST will be :-

·         A non-profit making Supporters Trust, with membership open to all Chelsea Football Club supporters worldwide;

·         Wholly independent of Chelsea Football Club but seeking an ongoing positive dialogue with them;

·         Run on a democratic one member, one vote principle with annual board elections and regular meetings;

·         Committed to proactive and mutually beneficial dialogue with the club and other stakeholders including the local community, local council, relevant media and other supporters groups. 

Aims

The Chelsea FC Supporters Trust will aim to :-

·         Encourage the board of Chelsea Football Club to take into account the interests of all supporters (both UK and Overseas based) and of the local community (businesses, residents, local authorities etc) when making decisions that impact upon them;

·         To actively and professionally engage with all relevant stakeholders on matters of interest and concern to Chelsea supporters;

·         Act as an effective means of communication between club and supporters;

·         Build on the work done by the Fans Forum in enabling issues of concern with supporters to be raised with the club;

·         Work with Supporters Direct and other Supporters Trusts on pan-club issues like ticket prices, kick-off times;

·         Work in partnership with existing supporters groups, websites, fanzine, podcasts  etc without detracting from their independence.


Short Term Objectives (Up to end 2012/13 season)

·         Agree a constitution, conduct an effective membership drive and elect a board;

·         Open a dialogue with club officials (including the Supporters Liaison Officer) and other stakeholders;

·         Create an effective membership communications platform.

 
Medium / Long Term Objectives

·         Participate in the Fans Forum from the start of the 2013/14 season;

·         Build an effective working relationship with the Supporters Liaison Officer and apply pressure for this to be a stand-alone role;

·         Affiliate with as many Chelsea supporters groups, fanzines, websites, blogs, podcasts etc. as possible;

·         Improve two way communication for the benefit of supporters and the Club and build effective relationships with other stakeholders, including the local community;

·         Actively promote sale of CPO shares to supporters;

·         To have an elected supporters’ representative on the CPO board;

·         To have an elected supporters representative on the board of Chelsea Football Club.

3. Membership Structure/Fees

There is a clear desire to keep membership fees to a minimum, and to make the membership process as smooth as possible. The two-tier model (low membership fee with voting rights, free membership with no vote) is seen by some to have merit. There is also a school of thought that would prefer to have a one-off joining fee and no further charge. It is clear that further thought will need to be given to this, to develop a clear and appropriate structure before the membership drive begins.

4.  Indicative Vote

The meeting voted by a significant majority of those present to proceed with setting up a trust.

5.  Timeline
The proposed timeline is as follows :-
31/12/12– Supporters Direct approve constitution.  Paul Jeffrey and others from the working group will work with SD to ensure the appropriate work is done.
1/1/13-30/4/13– membership drive.  This will require everyone who supports the formation of the CFCST to ensure an effective and comprehensive membership drive takes place.
May 2013 or Aug 2013– (depending on membership, timing etc) – elections for CFCST board

6.  Any Other Business

6.1  Future Meetings
There were c30 people at the meeting at its peak, around half of those at the last one. A number of apologies were received and it is clear that Sunday night is less than ideal in terms of getting numbers to attend meetings (the match result didn’t help, either). The next meeting is likely to be in January or February, and it is to be hoped that a 12.45 or 15.00 Saturday game presents itself. If not, thought will clearly have to be given to the most appropriate time, and how to attract more attendees.

6.2  Notification To Club
Cliff Auger advised that he had notified relevant club officials of progress with setting up the trust and would continue to do so.
6.3  Communication
Although we have a website being set up, and a twitter account (@cfcstrust), the Facebook account set up needs to be far better utilised. Tim Rolls will talk to Celia Mindelsohn, who has volunteered to make the CFCST Facebook presence more meaningful and useful.

Agenda for next CFCST open meeting 18.30 28/10/12

 
The next Chelsea FC Supporters Trust (CFCST) Open Meeting, open to all Chelsea supporters, will be held at 18.30 on Sunday 28thOct (after the Manchester United league game). The venue is the upstairs meeting room at The Atlas Pub, 16, Seagrave Rd, London, SW6 1RX (close to West Brompton tube station). http://www.theatlaspub.co.uk/contact-us/
 

Given the lack of Saturday home games until 2013, there is no obvious time for a meeting that would suit all potential attendees, but holding it after the Man Utd game was the most popular option from feedback received. Because of this, it is accepted that many who would like to attend the forthcoming may not be able to. To ensure non-attendees feedback is taken into account, any comments/ideas etc e-mailed to us will be collated, circulated in advance and shared at the meeting.

 
The last meeting was well attended and lively, if inevitably slightly chaotic (the room layout didn’t help), and the majority of feedback we have received is that it was worthwhile and interesting. If you haven’t seen them, the notes from that meeting are available on this blog. Having covered a number of necessary introductory issues last time, this meeting should be more focused, and allow debate on key issues, including a decision on whether we proceed with setting up a Supporters Trust.
 
The meeting agenda (together with some brief background reading for some of the agenda items) is detailed below.

AGENDA
 
1.  Activity since last meeting – quick update

2.  Aims & Objectives
It is important we have a generally agreed set of aims and objectives to work towards.  Below are a ‘straw man’ draft set for discussion at the meeting – these are clearly not set in tablets of stone. If you could take the time to read and think about them before the meeting that would be appreciated.

The CFCST will be :-

·         A non-profit making Supporters Trust, with membership open to all Chelsea Football Club supporters worldwide;
·         Wholly independent of Chelsea Football Club but seeking an ongoing positive dialogue with them;
·         Run on a democratic one member, one vote principle with annual board elections and regular meetings;
·         Committed to proactive and mutually beneficial dialogue with the club and other stakeholders including the local community, local council, relevant media and other supporters groups.
 
Aims
The Chelsea FC Supporters Trust will aim to :-
·         Encourage the board of Chelsea Football Club to take into account the interests of all supporters (both UK and Overseas based) and of the local community (businesses, residents, local authorities etc) when making decisions that impact upon them;
·         To actively and professionally engage with all relevant stakeholders on matters of interest and concern to Chelsea supporters;
·         Act as an effective means of communication between club and supporters;
·         Build on the work done by the Fans Forum in enabling issues of concern with supporters to be raised with the club;
·         Work in partnership with existing supporters groups, websites, fanzines etc without detracting from their independence.

Short Term Objectives (Up to end 2012/13 season)
·         Agree a constitution, conduct an effective membership drive and elect a board;
·         Open a dialogue with club officials (including the Supporters Liaison Officer) and other stakeholders;
·         Create an effective membership communications platform.

Medium / Long Term Objectives
·         Participate in the Fans Forum from the start of the 2013/14 season;
·         Build an effective working relationship with the Supporters Liaison Officer and apply pressure for this to be a stand-alone role;
·         Improve two way communication for the benefit of supporters and the Club and build effective relationships with other stakeholders, including the local community;
·         Actively promote sale of CPO shares to supporters;
·         To have an elected supporters’ representative on the CPO board;
·         To have an elected supporters representative on the board of Chelsea Football Club.

3. Membership Structure/Fees

There seems to be a desire to keep membership fees to a minimum, and to make the membership process as smooth as possible. The two-tier model (low membership fee with voting rights, free membership with no vote) is seen by some to have merit. There is also a school of thought that would prefer to have a one-off joining fee and no further charge. Under 16’s cannot have a vote in a trust, but could still become non-voting members.

As examples, here are the annual fees charged by some other PL trusts :-
Arsenal: £30 pa or £2 pm via standing order (although they are unique in their aim of AFC share ownership)
Manchester United: £15 UK / £10 overseas
Fulham: £10 pa
QPR: £5 pa
We can debate the various options at the meeting.  In addition, we need to ensure that overseas supporters, both in terms of clubs but also individuals, are encouraged to join.

4.  Differences between CFCST and other supporters groups
A number of people have raised the issue regarding what makes a Trust different from other supporters groups.  Here are some ideas, we would welcome debate on these points (and others you may have)


·         All members can democratically participate, with regular meetings, annual elections and one person, one vote built into the constitution – thereby ensuring the elected board is held to account;
·         Demonstrably inclusive with membership open to all Chelsea fans in the UK and overseas;
·         Affiliation open to all supporters groups in the UK and overseas, fanzines, websites, podcasts, blogs;
·         Broadly representative demographically and geographically;
·         The credibility that comes with being part of a wider, more powerful network of supporters trusts and the liaison with Supporters Direct;
·         Actively hold the club to account with professional representation  e.g. the opportunity to interpret and explain club accounts etc to members;
·         The opportunity to build close links with the local community (residents, business, local authorities etc).

5.  Indicative Vote

We would like to get a sense from the meeting as to whether proceeding with the formation of a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust has broad support. To this end, a show of hands will be sought. We are keen that those unable to attend the meeting can participate in this vote. 

If you cannot attend, Supporters Direct have an e-mail address CSTconsultation@supporters-direct.coop
to enable you to give your opinions on the formation of a trust, and any related issues. Please let us have these by 12.00 on Sunday, so they can ensure the feedback is fed into the meeting.Assuming the vote is positive, the proposed timeline is as follows :-
31/12/12– SD approve constitution;
1/1/13-30/4/13– membership drive;
May 2013 or Aug 2013– (depending on membership, timing etc) – elections for CFCST board
6.  Any Other Business

We look forward to seeing as many interested parties as possible at the meeting, which will last a maximum of 90 minutes, finishing by 20.00 latest. If you have any comments, concerns or questions on the meeting or any aspect of the CFCST process, please e-mail us at cfcstrust@gmail.com and we will be happy to respond.

 
Regards
CFCST Working Group
e-mail –  cfcstrust@gmail.com
Twitter – @cfcstrust

Responses to questions raised before start-up meeting

Responses to questions raised in advance of
CFCST start-up meeting held 22/9/12

Because of time constraints, not all questions/issues submitted in advance could be discussed at the Chelsea FC Supporters trust start-up meeting last week. Apologies for this.  Here are the responses , which have been reviewed by James Mathie of Supporters Direct. If you have follow-up questions, please e-mail them to cfcstrust@gmail.com.

1.  What is a Supporters Trust?

1.1  What is a trust? Why is it different from existing supporters groups? Can’t they do everything a trust does?
There are two approaches to this answer

Operationally
A supporter’s trust is a fully democratic organisation with formally incorporated as a Community Benefit Society which is a type of mutual registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). It has limited liability status, and assets and liabilities are held collectively by the members rather than by individuals.

It is built on a one member one vote basis which is enshrined in the constitution, and any surplus made will be either kept as reserves or reinvested back into the organisation to fulfil its objects. An annual return must be filed with the FSA and any rule changes must be agreed by the members and are only effective once accepted by the FSA.  

Other supporters groups will be unincorporated which is likely to be the right legal model, but by being incorporated as a Community Benefit Society there is more flexibility in what can be done and protection of the democratic principles.

StrategicallyFor many fans are the moral owners of club, but until supporters can become involved in legal ownership, it’s always easier to ignore or patronize than actually listen to. Supporters have been consistently ignored for many, many years, and if asking nicely for a hearing would be all it took, it would have worked long ago.

On one level a supporters’ trust acts as the guardian of the future of the football club; if they believe that the club is heading in the wrong direction or being run incompetently and not in the interests of the fans they will not be afraid to criticise. But, they’re not there to be relentlessly critical. They are also about helping the club, tapping into the skills and expertise of their membership and offering solutions and not just posing problems.

Being a Supporters Trust would allow us to join the membership of Supporters Direct (SD). SD work towards and promote supporter involvement and ownership in Clubs, and there are networks we could benefit from such as the links to other trusts at many other PL and FL clubs.  As an example, there is a quarterly PL Trust Network meeting, and ongoing support from Supporters Direct, so a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust clearly has the opportunity to identify and apply best practice.

1.2  What can a trust realistically achieve at a big club like Chelsea? It is easy to see their impact at much smaller clubs, but I struggle to see what the goals could be.
It is for the trust membership to decide the goals, but these would be more than just ‘housekeeping issues’.  Input to any redevelopment of Stamford Bridge or move to a new ground, and having a supporter on the board of the football club are both potential long term goals. Being a representative and credible voice for Chelsea supporters is a sensible aim, and one which is in our control. We hope this will have a bearing on the Club’s willingness to listen and consult but there are other stakeholders relevant to the Club that we can form partnerships with.

1.3  What works at other clubs won’t necessarily work at Chelsea given the ownership structure.
Regardless of the ownership structure, effective dialogue with the club is clearly paramount. We can learn from what has (and hasn’t) worked at other clubs – as an example the Arsenal Supporters Trust has formal dialogue with the club on a regular basis..

1.4  We don’t have the same issues as clubs like Man U, Portsmouth, Leeds etc so I can’t see the point of a trust.
See response to 1.2 above. The general theme of consultation remains but the issues might change, and we shouldn’t become wedded to just one issue, if we set up a Supporters Trust it should be with the aim of existing for future generations.

1.5  You say a trust is democratic and transparent and that sounds a good thing but what does this mean?
A trust has a board elected annually by their membership, who also vote on key issues. The whole idea is that the priorities and key actions of the trust are decided by the membership, and if they don’t like what the board are doing they can vote them out. In addition by law we must have an AGM presenting accounts and filing a publically available annual return.

2.  Trust Membership

2.1  How would membership work? Why should people pay good money and receive nothing in return.  What would membership fees be spent on?
The membership process will need to be thought through. One possible model is to have a small membership fee (say £3-£5) which gives voting rights, and separate to that a free non-voting option The money raised would pay for administration of communicating with the membership so things like meeting room hire, printing, postage, web hosting etc., which in the scheme of things are relatively small costs so fees will be kept to a minimum.

The fee for membership will always be low as we want to be inclusive, but there may be times where we need more money which can be achieved through various means.

2.2  How will you build membership?  How can you elect a committee when you don’t have any members?
If it is decided to proceed with the trust, we will be looking for all interested parties to spread the word about membership, in addition to using social media, blogs, web sites, fanzines etc.  Realistically, it will be the end of the season before a board can be elected, as you would want a decent pool of members before  holding elections so that being an elected member of the Board meant something. Until then, there would continue to be a working group.

3.  Approach of a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust

3.1  I am concerned it will be too aggressive and hostile, like SAYNO became – it would need a more diplomatic approach and aim to work with the club.
We believe that an ongoing, constructive dialogue with the club is the way forward that is not to say that ‘difficult’ issues shouldn’t be raised, or that all responses are just accepted, but confrontation should not be the default position.


3.2  It needs to avoid becoming a ‘narrow issues’ pressure group.
We agree that focussing on a couple of issues, however emotive, is not the purpose of the rust, which should look to have short, medium and long-term targets , to be decided by the membership.


3.3  There is a real opportunity to build a mass supporters movement, but this will not be easy. How do you intend to do this?
By trying to build a large membership, and behaving in an open and democratic manner, we believe a trust can play a significant role in putting representing the most important people in any club, the supporters, to the club and other stakeholders. There will have to be delegated responsibility to the Directors elected to serve by the membership to move things forward, but they will operate within the confines of the rules and the aims and there still needs to be constant 2 way communication and proper consultation with supporters on big issues.

4.  Relationship with Existing Supporters Groups
4.1  Do you intend a trust should replace the existing supporters groups? Do you intend a trust to become an umbrella organisation of supporters groups? What do the existing groups think about this?
A key issue going forward would clearly be the relationship with existing groups and a sensible dialogue would need to take place. It is not for a trust to ‘replace’ existing groups and rebranding a supporters group is definitely not what this is about.

4.2  We don’t need another fans group, we have enough already.
A trust is different from other fans groups, as explained in 1. above.

4.3  How can a member of an existing supporters group realistically get involved in a Supporters Trust?
There is nothing to stop a member of an existing group from getting actively involved in a trust (or vice versa) and indeed a number have already expressed an interest in doing so.

5.  Relationship with Club
5.1  Do you intend to join, supplement, replace or ignore the Fans Forum?  The Fans Forum is ineffective and needs replacing in my opinion, but I’m not sure how a trust could do this.
There is a general feeling amongst many supporters that the Fans Forum is ineffective. What a more effective means of dialogue is, would need to be worked out. We would hope that through the vehicle of a Supporters a Trust representing a number of supporters, we could come back with suggestions as to how the Clubs engagement with supporters could be better – whether that is through an improved Fans Forum or a different means.  

5.2  There are issues that have been raised with the club for years (ticketing, match day experience, stewarding etc). Why would a trust be any more successful than the Fans Forum?
See response above.
5.3  How do you intend to interact with the club?  Why would the club engage with a trust – are they obliged to given the ‘official’ status?
The club are not currently obliged to recognise a trust, but we believe that given the incorporated status, backing of Supporters Direct and plans to optimise membership, our case for the club to talk to us will be stronger, although this will probably not happen overnight. The Supporters Liaison Officer (SLO) role is an example of the changing attitude Clubs and Football Bodies have towards supporters, as it is now a requirement for Clubs wishing to compete in Uefa competition to have an SLO. Something that SD has been working with Uefa to bring about.  
6.  Involvement of Overseas Chelsea Supporters

6.1  Would overseas supporters be able to join?  Foreign fans deserve a voice, and I suspect the club would be more supportive if a trust provided a mechanism to do this.
We are very keen to encourage overseas supporters to join the trust and will ensure that the process to do this is straightforward.

6.2  If a trust is set up, it would be good to have an overseas rep on any committee – Skype could be used to make this practical.
That is a very good point. There is an obvious logic to having an overseas rep on a trust board, although of course it is for the membership to decide the structure of the board. The rules that SD use are flexible in allowing participation from people who can’t attend Board meetings in person and for people to vote who can’t attend meetings.

7.  Goals – Short, Medium and Long Term

7.1  Who decides what the targets of such a trust would be? A self-appointed committee?
The Trust Board would be elected by the membership, who would decide on targets and priorities in an open and democratic manner.

7.2  What would the goals of such a trust be? Club ownership is clearly unrealistic, and our owner is not a divisive figure, unlike (e.g.) the Glazers.
Club ownership is clearly not a realistic goal. A long term aspiration, however, could be a supporter representative on the football club board.  All goals, however, are decided by the membership.

Next steps in formation of Chelsea FC Supporters Trust

Since the start-up meeting last weekend, discussions have been held with James Mathie of Supporters Direct. The purpose of the discussion was to talk through the next steps for the CFCST after the start-up meeting (which JM thought was positive and supportive), focussing on what needs to be done before the next meeting, which will either be on 28/10 (Man U game) or 11/11 (Liverpool game) . At present, majority feedback received seems to be that after the Man U game is the most popular time.

A number of key issues were discussed :-

 
1. Preparation For Next Meeting
A number of issues can be addressed before the next meeting. Based on his experience elsewhere, JM suggested setting up a Working Group containing the four ‘originators’plus a few other volunteers who made it clear after the meeting they were keen to play a pro-active role. The Working Group could look at the following :- * SD have a model constitution which they suggest we use, tweaking as necessary (e.g. re overseas members). We don’t need to finalise it at this stage, but clear aims and objects would be
useful to present to the next meeting;
* i
dentifying differences between the CFCST and existing supporters groups ;

* possible membership structures / fees;
* it was agreed that contacting other PL trusts to learn what has, and has not worked, for them could only be beneficial.
JM suggested the Working Group meet (probably w/c 8thOctober) and that he would be happy to attend and facilitate the meeting. Those who expresssed an interest in getting actively involved immediately will be contacted re Working Group membership.
2. Purpose of Next Meeting
a) To receive feedback/proposals from the Working Group on, amongst other issues :-
* draft aims/objects;
* thoughts on the differences between the CFCST and the various existing supporters groups
* thoughts on membership structure/fees;
* feedback from discussions with other trusts re their experiences with set up, membership drives, club liaison etc..
 
b) To vote on whether to proceed to the next step –working with SD to formalise the constitution.
 
3. Longer Term Timeline
If the next meeting approves going ahead and forming a CFCST, the finalisation and approval of the constitution will take possibly 6-8 weeks. Membership fees cannot be taken until the constitution is approved. A temporary ‘volunteer committee’ would need to be set up. Assuming CFCST is a formal legal entity by 31/12/12, a strong membership drive can start in the New Year. Once membership has been built, elections for a Trust Board can be held (hopefully by the end of the season) and dialogue with the club can begin.
 
4. Other Issues
a) SD have a one-stop ‘membership tool’ which can take subscriptions, send e-mails, create a membership database etc. This would cost CFCST £25 a month to use. There is no compulsion to use this.
b) An announcement re the timing of the next meeting will be made once further feedback is received regarding the optimum time.
NB – If you are on Twitter, the Chelsea FC Supporters Trust twitter account is @cfcstrust .

Notes of CFCST start-up meeting held 22/9/12

 
If you have any questions about this or any other post, any e-mail sent to cfcstrust@gmail.com will be responded to. Our twitter account is @cfcstrust .
 
First of all, thank you to those who attended the meeting at the Barrow Boy after Saturday’s game. To get 70+ people to a meeting on a Saturday evening is very heartening, especially given the fact that the purpose of the meeting was to inform, as opposed to making firm decisions. We also received apologies from a number of people who, for various reasons, cannot make meetings at that time.
Despite the challenges of the meeting room (you should have seen it when we arrived at 17.15….) our feeling was that there was plenty of passion and plenty of energy in the room and, given the general response at the end, a feeling from most present that a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust was an initiative worth pursuing, accepting it will take time and effort to set it up and develop it properly.
Apologies that not all questions raised in advance were not responded to, we simply ran out of time. Apologies also to those who pointed out in advance that this was likely to be the case. It is notoriously difficult at such start-up sessions to predict the way the meeting will go, and it would have been wrong to limit contributions from attendees. A written response to all those questions will be circulated by e-mail later in the week.
It was very useful to get a wider perspective in terms of the trust movement from James Mathie of Supporters Direct and to hear about activity at trusts at PL clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United. Many thanks to James for giving up his evening to support the meeting, and also for staying behind to answer individual questions. It is clear that we can learn from other Trusts in terms of their successes and failures going forward, and to have the advice and support of Supporters Direct will certainly be a major help to us.
A number of major issues were raised including the following :-
  • Scepticism from some attendees about whether a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust would ever be effective given the club ownership structure.
  • A need to clarify how a trust would interact with existing groups.
  • There are different models at different clubs and this would need to be carefully worked through.
  • A general recognition of the ineffectiveness of the Fans Forum, although clear concerns were expressed about how effective a Trust would be in dialogue with the club.
  • A desire to ensure that the overseas Chelsea fan base are encouraged to participate in the Trust.
  • Given that a major issue for many Chelsea supporters in recent years has been the future of the CPO, and given that a Trust would obviously be a totally separate legal entity from the CPO, there would need to be careful thought about if (and how) a Trust would be involved in CPO issues that arise in the future.
  • The Supporters Liaison Officer role at the club was seen to be a key one going forward.
  • A desire to set membership fees as low as realistically possible (especially given the very low costs of running such an organisation).
  • It would need hands-on effort from a large number of people, using a number of different mechanisms, to maximise membership, to demonstrate to the club & other stakeholders the support the Trust had.
There are a number of steps to go through before a Trust can be approved by Supporters Direct and hence begin signing up members. These will be talked through with James Mathie and be the subject of a further e-mail later this week in terms of what we need to do before the next meeting and asking for help in doing this.

A number of people approached us after the meeting to offer their active support, and we are very grateful to them as clearly the more people actively involved, the more effective the development of the Trust will be.
In terms of the next meeting, there are a few potential options, and we would like to canvass your views in terms of what you think would work best for you and any friends/family you have who may be interested in attending :-
Man U 16.00 ko Sun 28/10/12 – meet before (13.30 for 75 mins) or after (18.30 for 75 mins)
Liverpool 16.00 ko Sun 11/11/12 – meet before (13.30 for 75 mins) or after (18.30 for 75 mins)
Sunday games are probably not ideal for many people, but our next Saturday 15.00 kick-off is three days before Xmas (and even that may be moved) and it is important to build momentum and impetus before then. There is no time/date in the next couple of months which will suit everyone but your responses (to the e-mail address above) will give us an indication as to preferences.

We will also be looking at whether there is a more suitable meeting venue in and around Fulham Broadway – if anyone has any ideas please let us know.

 

Chelsea FC Supporter Trust ‘Start-Up’ Meeting 18.15 Saturday 22nd September 2012

This post details the agenda for the ‘start-up’ meeting and lists issues raised / feedback received to date, which will be discussed at that meeting.  All Chelsea supporters are welcome at the meeting.

Agenda – Chelsea FC Supporter Trust ‘Start-Up’ Meeting
18.15 Saturday 22nd September 2012
Upstairs at the Barrow Boy Pub, North End Road, SW6

 

Purpose of meeting – to give Chelsea supporters a chance to learn more about what a Supporters Trust is, what it stands for, what it could realistically achieve & why it is felt Chelsea should have one.

 

 

 

1.  Welcome & Introductions.  James Mathie of Supporters Direct will be participating in the meeting.
(Pass round sheets to get e-mail addresses of attendees)

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Background – quick refresh on how the meeting came about.

 

 

 

 

 

3.  What a Supporters Trust is, why it is important, what a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust could realistically achieve, the Supporter Liaison Officer role etc.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Discussion on feedback and challenges already received (attached), questions from attendees & from live Twitter feed.

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Next steps. If mood of meeting is supportive, a follow-up meeting in 6-8 weeks (need to be clear what that would cover/achieve & who is going to do the work leading up to that meeting)

 

 

 

 

 

6.  Any Other Business

 



 

The meeting needs to end by 19.45 latest
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Themes to feedback received regarding possible setting up of
Chelsea FC Supporters Trust (CFCST)

 

The following is distillation / summary of the themes raised in the various feedbacks received regarding the idea of forming a CFCST. This list focuses on challenges and issues raised. These points will be discussed at the start-up meeting on 22/9/12. 

 

What is a Trust?

 

What is a Trust? Why is it different from existing supporters groups? Can’t they do everything a trust does?

 

What can a trust realistically achieve at a big club like Chelsea? It is easy to see their impact at much smaller clubs, but I struggle to see what the goals could be.

 

What works at other clubs won’t necessarily work at Chelsea given the ownership structure.

 

We don’t have the same issues as clubs like Man U, Portsmouth, Leeds etc so I can’t see the point of a trust.

 

You say a trust is democratic and transparent and that sounds a good thing but what does this mean?

 

Trust Membership

 

How would membership work? Why should people pay good money and receive nothing in return.  What would membership fees be spent on?

 

Would overseas supporters be able to join?

 

How will you build membership?  How can you elect a committee when you don’t have any members?

 

Approach of a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust

 

I am concerned it will be too aggressive and hostile, like SAYNO became – it would need a more diplomatic approach and aim to work with the club.

 

It needs to avoid becoming a ‘narrow issues’ pressure group.

 

There is a real opportunity to build a mass supporters movement, but this will not be easy. How do you intend to do this?


Relationship with Existing Supporters Groups

 

Do you intend a trust should replace the existing supporters groups?

 

Do you intend a trust to become an umbrella organisation of supporters groups? What do the existing groups think about this?

 

We don’t need another fans group, we have enough already.

 

How can a member of an existing supporters group realistically get involved in a Supporters Trust?

 

Relationship with Club

 

How do you intend to interact with the club?

 

Do you intend to join, supplement, replace or ignore the Fans Forum?

 

The Fans Forum is ineffective and needs replacing in my opinion, but I’m not sure how a trust could do this.

 

Why would the club engage with a trust – are they obliged to given the ‘official’ status?

 

There are issues that have been raised with the club for years (ticketing, match day experience, stewarding etc). Why would a trust be any more successful than the Fans Forum?

 

Involvement of Overseas Chelsea Supporters

 

Foreign fans deserve a voice, and I suspect the club would be more supportive if a trust provided a mechanism to do this.

 

If a trust is set up, it would be good to have an overseas rep on any committee – Skype could be used to make this practical.

 

Goals – Short, Medium and Long Term

 

Who decides what the targets of such a trust would be? A self-appointed committee?

 

What would the goals of such a trust be? Club ownership is clearly unrealistic, and our owner is not a divisive figure, unlike (e.g.) the Glazers.

 

 

Chelsea FC Supporters Trust – Start Up Meeting Sat 22/9

Chelsea FC Supporters Trust

Public Start-Up Meeting

18.15 Sat 22nd September @ The Barrow Boy Pub
(after the Stoke home game)

Overwhelmingly positive feedback has been received from our initial e-mails, blogs and tweets on the idea of a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust (see http://chelseafcstrust.blogspot.co.uk/ for details of the information then circulated). 
It is clear that many Chelsea supporters believe that there is a lack of engagement by the club with its supporters, and that the idea of a Supporters Trust is, at the very least, worth exploring as a means of increasing the voice of supporters and enter into a positive dialogue with the club. 

Given this, we have arranged an start-up meeting, to which all Chelsea fans are invited, to be held after the forthcoming Stoke City home game, at 18.15 on Saturday September 22nd.

·         This meeting gives Chelsea supporters a chance to learn more about what a trust is, what it stands for, what it could realistically achieve and why we feel Chelsea supporters should have one, based on the Supporters Trust model.  There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
 
·         A representative of Supporters Direct (who have helped set up 150+ supporters trusts) will attend to explain their role and how trusts, adopting a transparent, democratic and co-operative model, have been successfully implemented at other clubs

 

·         There will be a discussion and vote on whether to move to establish a Chelsea Supporters Trust run on democratic and transparent lines.


Ultimately we aim for a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust to represent the views of as many Chelsea supporters as possible.

Upstairs Bar, Barrow Boy Pub
308-310 North End Road London SW6 1NQ (near McDonalds)

                                     (We anticipate the meeting lasting a maximum of 90 minutes)

***All Chelsea Supporters Welcome***

More information on the idea of a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust at http://chelseafcstrust.blogspot.co.uk/ and on Twitter @cfcstrust

Cliff Auger, Neil Beard, David Johnstone & Tim Rolls

Proposed Chelsea FC Supporters Trust – Answers To Possible Questions

Proposed Chelsea FC Supporters Trust – Answers To Possible Questions

What is this ‘Chelsea Trust’?

The Chelsea Trust has not been created yet, but we are a group of like minded Chelsea supporters who believe that there is a lack of engagement by the club with its supporters.  By coming together to debate the Supporters Trust concept, we aim to increase our voice as supporters and enter into a positive dialogue with the club. Ultimately we aim to represent the views of as many Chelsea supporters as possible (accepting that 100% representation will never happen), and if created, will adopt the same transparent, democratic and co-operative model as seen at a number of other clubs.

What is a Supporters Trust?

The basic definition of a Supporters’ Trust is a democratic, not-for-profit organisation of supporters, committed to strengthening the voice for supporters in the decision making process at a club, and strengthening the links between the club and the community it serves. Although in some ways it may look like a charity, and has the name ‘trust’, it is not a charitable organisation.

What’s the role of Supporters Direct?

Supporters Direct (SD) helps supporters form trusts by offering advice on how to get it off the ground. They ensure that as many supporters get involved as possible. Having worked with supporters setting up over 160 trusts since 2000, they advise supporters on what works and what doesn’t and give examples of good ideas from other places. SD also take up some of the workload, as they have full-time staff who are at the end of a phone to advise if needed.  They also pay for all the legal costs of setting up a Trust and may be able to provide small grants, to cover things like advertising, printing, and room hire etc.

Why form a Trust? How does it differ from an Independent Supporters’ Association or supporters’ club?

It’s SD’s belief that an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) offers the best way forward for supporters’ groups as its legal assets can be owned ‘corporately’ in a group rather than being vested in individuals. Members also get the benefit of limited liability (and so do the elected officers in most cases) – members are only liable for £1 if anything goes wrong – for example, if the Trust is sued.

It’s democratic and not-for-profit and states clearly and boldly that a key aim is the securing of representation and strengthening the links between club and community. It’s got the ‘big idea’ that helps get an organisation off the ground – the idea at the heart is “why always be criticising, when we can be participating and communicating – we think we can bring huge benefits to the club, so give us a chance”.

Finally, the people who get involved in a trust as members know that their money is protected; it can’t be spent on anything other than what the constitution says, and anyone who does this can be taken to court.

An IPS imposes certain disciplines on a group that can only be a good thing – democracy, accountability and transparency, and this can only reinforce the points you make. Basically, it comes down to what you want a body to do. A trust, constituted as an IPS stays in existence until its members decide to dissolve it, and so they have greater ability to stay around. Often, ISA’s go into a lull when key individuals become inactive. All these are of course applicable to a trust, but the disciplines we mention above make it more likely that weaknesses are identified and rectified. For starters, the act of becoming an IPS is a collaborative effort so you need a good team from the off.

Who are you? Aren’t you just a self-appointed clique?

At present we are a group of individuals who share the same broad range of concerns over how the club is currently run and financed. No permanent structures have been created and will not be unless supporters feel there is a need to do so.  The purpose of this communication is to get in touch with various existing groups, web sites, bloggers, fanzines etc to try and get their support for a Supporters Trust to be set up.

We want to hold a public start-up meeting at the start of next season.  The purpose of this public meeting will be to discuss the validity of creating a co-operative grouping of Chelsea supporters based on the Supporters Trust model. The centre piece of this meeting will be a vote on whether to move to establish a Chelsea Supporters Trust run on democratic and transparent lines. The individuals who are currently involved in hosting this meeting are clear that without a mandate from Chelsea supporters, no Trust will be created.

We will actively encourage as many Chelsea supporters to attend this meeting and contribute to the debate.

You can never buy the club. What’s the point?

Given the ownership model in place at Chelsea, it is obviously unrealistic for a Supporters Trust to aspire to own the club. Instead, our aim is to simply increase the voice of Chelsea supporters by formalising a collective engagement with the club, and potentially acting as a conduit for supporter complaints and problems, working with the Supporters Liaison Officer. Any Trust that is created will not claim to speak for all Chelsea supporters but only for its members, so we want to see as wide a representative of supporters join us to make our collective voice heard.

One aspiration for a trust could be to target a place on the board – it’s about putting a professional face to the club and saying ‘we’re capable, skilled people with something to offer the club.’ That doesn’t mean that you’re unable to criticise or beholden to the club – as a democratic organisation, the members determine your policy and stance towards the club.

Whilst we believe that the Chelsea Board and employees should be allowed to run the club without interference, we also believe that as temporary custodians of the club they have a responsibility to engage with supporters in an equal, mutually beneficial partnership. Presently there is little formal structured or transparent engagement between supporters and club, apart from the quarterly Fans Forum, and little way that we as supporters can raise questions and if necessary, hold the club to account. It will be the aim of any Chelsea Trust to help formalise this role, acting as a bridge between club and supporters, so we will be proactive in encouraging as many supporters to join as we can.

Surely Supporters Trusts only work where clubs have gone into administration?

Supporters Trusts have been created at other clubs like Portsmouth and Leicester when they have run into severe financial or administrative problems. We would like to ensure that Chelsea supporters have a structure through which they can work with the club both now and in the future. We believe that whilst the board has a duty of care to run the club in the interests of the supporters, we as supporters have a duty to make sure there is an open and transparent mechanism in which problems can be addressed and issues dealt with. The Supporters Trust model is a successful way that supporters can work through.

Why do some Trusts place more importance in influencing the Board, whilst others seek to own shares or get fan Directors?

Each trust has to look at what the situation is at their club and act in the way most likely to produce results. At some clubs, the owner might not be up for selling shares, so the trust might look to get hold of the share register and try and find other sources. At other places, the value of the club is so much that supporters are going to find it very difficult to get together the tens of millions of pounds needed, so they look to be the bridge between the club and community and get credit for that.
As you don’t have to own any shareholding to be on the board, it’s not necessary to own a stake in the club (though it usually helps). All of them are united in a desire to make the mechanisms for dialogue between club and supporters as solid as possible, and as entrenched as possible, so it can’t be undone should ownership or personnel change and a different group of people come in who want to end that dialogue. And, although every club’s situation is different, we can help advice in the light of what might have worked at other clubs in similar situations.

Why are Trusts concerned about links with the local community, even in cases where the club is in crisis?

A lot of people look at how sport has changed over the past 10 years and feel that the community roots of a club in some places have been lost, with clubs seems to care more about money, or sponsors, than supporters. The club represents the very best of the community it plays in, and can act as a symbol of that community for everyone to support. Trusts are about making that really happen. It’s usually the supporters who care most about these things as they often live in the community or used to, and they want to see the kids in the town centre on a Saturday wearing the local club shirt rather than that of a club 250 miles away.

Aren’t you just a group of do-gooding, interfering busy bodies?

The Supporters Trust has not been created yet, but the many individuals who have been meeting to discuss this so far are from all walks of life and from all over the world. We actively want more Chelsea supporters to get involved, helping to build a united, powerful voice.

Aren’t you just a protest group?

We are not a protest group. We do not believe that supporters can successfully engage with the club if the basis for that relationship is negative, knee jerk or based on single issues. Instead, we aim to create an open, transparent and democratic structure through which supporters can raise their voice and help the club better communicate with its supporters.
We also have a clear sense of what we want. We aim to build fan influence within Chelsea FC. We are clear that can only claim to speak for our members, but we are united in the belief that we want Chelsea to be all it can be.

Why now?

We feel that, as the club are thinking about possibly reformatting the Fans Forum, now would be a good time to create an umbrella supporters group. A Supporters Trust would also bring together supporters from all sides of the recent (and ongoing) CPO debate to work together in a common cause.

Supporters Trusts might be OK at lower league clubs like Telford, Wimbledon and Exeter, but not at bigger clubs like Chelsea.

Supporters Trusts have been formed by supporters of Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs and each acts as an important channel through which supporters can raise their voice. However each Supporters Trust is different and the agenda and direction of any Chelsea Trust will be determined democratically by its membership.

If the board don’t want to engage with you, or supporters don’t want you, what’s the point of in a Supporters Trust?

Each Supporters Trust has its own issues and priorities. Some have succeeded in securing fan representation on their clubs’ Boards, others have bought their clubs and others still exist solely to deal with their own unique circumstances. It will be up to the membership of any Chelsea Trust to decide how it will work, its priorities and how it will measure its success. It will not be up to those currently involved in helping raise the profile of a proposed Supporters Trust to dictate any agenda to any future membership.

How much is this going to cost me?

As there is no Supporters Trust at present, we do not ask for membership fees. We simply want those Chelsea supporters who are interested in this concept to get involved in the discussion or attend the public meeting.
If a Supporters Trust is created, it may then ask for a membership fee. Supporters Trusts are formal, non for profit legal entities and as such subject to company law and strict auditing procedures. The must prove their transparency and openness – by law.

What are the next steps?

Please give us your feedback and, ask any questions that spring to mind..  If interest from the groups and individuals we are contacting is sufficient then we would look to hold a public meeting for Chelsea supporters early next season, and would look to widely publicise this. Amongst other issues, at this meeting we would look to get a constitution and board structure agreed, and to hold elections for the board positions.  SD will provide support and advice at this public meeting.

The aim of the Chelsea Supporters Trust is to bring the voice of Chelsea supporters, in the UK and overseas, to the attention of Chelsea Football Club.

%d bloggers like this: