With the growth of commercialism in modern football, many supporters feel more detached from the clubs they support than ever before. The opportunity to have an open and constructive dialogue with those who run the club is as a result more complex and challenging, but also more important than ever before. Chelsea’s success on the pitch in recent years has also led to a massive growth in support both in the UK and Overseas, and such diversity brings with it its own complexities!
Whilst there have always been groups who represent supporters to the club, there has been a growing feeling over the last year or so amongst some supporters that a need for a more organised, more democratic and representative body to make their voice heard. Not by sniping on social media or banners and chanting at the ground, but through constructive, open, honest , informed and ongoing dialogue.
Leading the way in this form of organised and effective dialogue between supporters and the clubs is Supporters Direct, so it was only natural that a small group of Chelsea supporters approached Supporters Direct to discuss setting up the Chelsea Supporters Trust. After a series of meetings open to all interested Chelsea Supporters, together with canvassing Official Supporters Groups, various supporter websites, fanzines and supporter groups, the decision was taken to set up the Chelsea Supporters Trust. Supporters Direct are an established, government-recognised body with many (successful) years of experience covering a wide spectrum of supporter based initiatives including and perhaps most importantly, the establishment and in some cases, the take-over of clubs run by the supporters themselves, with Wrexham FC, and perhaps most notably Portsmouth FC being prime examples. Whilst this is clearly not a realistic aim for Chelsea supporters, there is no doubt that with Supporters Directs influence on those who run the game and experience in helping supporters influence those who run their Clubs will be of great benefit to The Chelsea Supporters Trust in establishing effective communication with the Chelsea FC Board.
The Chelsea FC Supporters’ Trust is not, in any way, shape or form, seeking to undermine, detract or supersede any existing Chelsea supporters’ organisation, website, publication / fanzine or body. In addition, the aim is to build on the work of the Fans Forum, set up by Peter Kenyon, where there are ‘permanent’ representatives sent by such bodies as the cfcuk Fanzine, CFC-Net, Chelsea Supporters’ Group, and Chelsea Supporters Club along with others who apply to speak for season-ticket holders, members, disabled and overseas members. In fact after discussions in a meeting with club executives, The Chelsea Supporters Trust have had a seat on the Fans Forum since the start of the 2013/2014 season.
However, we believe that the Fans Forum, while laudable, has limitations in that the supporter representation is not universal or democratic and the format is within the Club’s control. What sets the Chelsea Supporters Trust apart is that it will be a democratic, one member, one vote body with inclusivity at its heart – open to any Chelsea Supporter of 50 years or 1 years standing, Season Ticket holder or member, born and bred in London or Lagos!
As well as this, improving the relationships with all stakeholders and the local community is at the heart of the Trusts remit and we are committed to re-affirming the roots to the location and the history and culture of the club and those that follow it.
We firmly believe becoming a member of the Chelsea Supporters Trust will provide an opportunity for all Chelsea supporters to talk to the Club with a unified and co-ordinated voice, with democratic and worldwide representation, by working with all the various supporter groups, websites, fanzines and podcasts.
Supporters Direct have given those involved in establishing a Chelsea FC Supporters Trust clear instructions and guidance as to how best to proceed and, with probity and strict adherence to the rules and procedures governing Trusts at the pinnacle of the agenda, it is hoped that all concerned with supporting Chelsea FC will join the cause. The Club needs to hear your voice, and we are here to make that voice heard!
The Chelsea Supporters Trust