Thursday, 27 February 2014

Q+A with Leeds Supporters Trust

Up next in our series of Q+A's we spoke to Leeds Supporters Trust (LUST) that represents Leeds United supporters. Taking our questions was Gary Cooper who is the Chairman of LUST.

A huge thanks to Gary for taking the time to answer our questions.

Please feel free to leave any comments or follow up questions in the comments box below.

Can you tell us why you formed Leeds Supporters Trust?

The trust was formed long before my time as a member but my understanding is it was recognised as a clear opportunity to provide an independent voice for its members with the club which at the time was begining to reel from the over spend of the Ridsdale era.

You state on your website that it is vital for fans to have an independent voice. Why do you think this is important?

In any democracy independence from influence, pressure and a party line is vital to hold to account those charged with the responsibility of governance, LUST is the vehicle which is able to provide that independent voice to its members. We are not bound by club rules or regulations and free to say what we are thinking without constraint, we feel that's invaluable.

With regards to investment in the footballing side, and given the documented history, what sort of financial policy would you like to see implemented at the Club. Do the Trust have a view on this? 

We try to be open minded but its difficult when your club has suffered the conseuences of massive over spend followed by huge under investment on the pitch, we have swung full circle in more ways than one so what matters most to our members if sustainability and proper strategic and financial planning pretty much in line with what UEFA are doing with FFP.

Do you have any contact with the Club owners/board to discuss concerns etc?

Since GFHc took control from Ken Bates contact has been very good although right now turmoil has taken over during a new sale to another new owner. We have been able to speak freely on all matters relating to our club and our members concerns and the MD, David Haigh, attended our last AGM and took questions from our members in attendance, on social media and listening to our broadcast so we cant complain about contact really.

And finally, what advice would you give for fans who are thinking of joining a supporters group or Trust? 

There is lots of support available from Supporters Direct and Jacqui Forster* is always available for good advice and direction if needed. I would say speak to other established trusts, ask questions of them and try to relate your own issues to those others have experienced in order to establish if there is good practice to learn from them. As a body of individual groups we are very supportive of each other, with that comes not only strength but also unity and purpose, we are stronger than the sum of our parts because we look after the sum of our parts. The trust movement will only grow in the years to come and any independent group can benefit from that by belonging.

For more information on Leeds Supporters Trust click here

*The SISA committe have met with and has been in constant communication with Jacqui Foster and Supporters Direct in our preparation for forming our own Trust. Don't forget the Members final vote for this is on Saturday April 5th April before the Yeovil match

Q+A with Wrexham Supporters Trust

Next in our series of Q+A's we spoke to Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) that not only represents Wrexham FC supporters but also owns the club itself! A truelly fascinating read, taking our questions was Peter Jones who is the Chairman of WST.

A huge thanks to Peter for taking the time to answer our questions.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and any follow up questions in the comments section below.

When forming your Trust did you receive any negative comments or was there a groundswell of support amongst Wrexham fans?

Wrexham Supporters Trust were formed in 2002 as ‘Wrexham INdependent Supporters’ – WINS. They began with an initiative called the ‘Beer-A-Week’ fund. The idea was for fans to give up one beer a week and put the money saved into the ‘pot’ to help the then manager Denis Smith to strengthen his squad.

I personally was against that at the time, as the club as usual were short of finances, and utility bills were not being paid. Phones were being cut off and so was the electricity, so buying players to strengthen the squad was not so important in my eyes. 

But the other aim was of interest - to buy a share in Wrexham Football Club. At that time the club had just been sold to the former Chester City Chairman Mark Guterman – a property developer. He’d bought the 78% of the shares from the previous Chairman Pryce Griffiths in February 2002. It was not a popular purchase, but the majority of fans were willing to give Guterman the benefit of the doubt.

That seemed to be working fine when Wrexham won promotion to League One in 2002/03, but the following season the troubles began.

It was discovered that a company named Broadhall Properties – a company owned by an Alex Hamilton, now owned the Racecourse Ground – the home of Wrexham Football Club. Until then it had been owned by Wolverhampton & Dudley Brewery, with Wrexham FC having a 125-year lease on the property at a peppercorn rent of just £1 a year. We were only about five years into the lease.

However, there had been absolutely no mention of the sale of the Racecourse by the new club owner. That itself raised suspicion, and it was further discovered that the ground had initially been sold to Wrexham Football Club, but immediately sold on to Broadhall Properties for £300,000. These transactions were later proved in the High Court to have been done without the consent of the Board of Directors of the football club making it illegal.

With this discovery, and the already known fact that the Club Chairman Mark Guterman was a property developer, it was now known that he was also a front for Alex Hamilton.

Following a red card protest at our last home game of the 2003/04 season against Brighton, where Brighton fans, who had lost the Goldstone Ground, in similar circumstances, held the red cards up to a man (and woman!), whilst only about 25% of Wrexham fans did so. This was because at the time, the local newspapers failed to highlight fans concerns, and only those with internet access were aware of the facts.

Guterman soon left, leaving Alex Hamilton to become Chairman and he didn’t mince his words, stating that he would “Bulldoze the Racecourse”. Fans began protests to highlight the dire situation as talk of the Racecourse becoming a site for a B and Q warehouse was rife.

Hamilton called a board meeting with the remaining two directors, Wrexham businessmen Dave Bennett and Dave Griffiths. He attempted to appoint his son and his secretary to the board, but the ‘Two Dave’s’ voted against it. This led to Hamilton’s immediate resignation as Chairman and director. As the major shareholder, he called a shareholders meeting with the intention of removing the ‘Two Dave’s’ from the board, but before this meeting was held the club was put into administration in December 2005, becoming the first ever Football League club to lose ten points for this action.

The Administrators then took Hamilton to the High Court where following a long process, and an appeal, it was decided that the original purchase of the ground by Wrexham Football Club was legal, but the sale to Broadhall Properties was deemed illegal, and the ground was returned into the hands of Wrexham Football Club.

The club eventually came out of administration in August 2006 when local businessmen Nev Dickens and Geoff Moss took over. It was thought our troubles were over……

Your successful bid and takeover of Wrexham Football Club received national coverage. Can you tell us how and why you came to be owners?

When Dickens and Moss took over they promised fan involvement, with a share issue being made, but these not only didn’t materialised, but we lost our Football League status!

Dickens stepped down, and a property developer, Ian Roberts came on board along with a local accountant Paul Retout, who had brought Roberts and Moss together, setting up a company named Wrexham Village Ltd. Retout became the Club’s Chief Executive, and the deal saw them announce plans for student accommodation to be built on land at the back of the Racecourse.

    (The Racecourse Ground - home of Wrexham FC)

It was said that this development would clear the club’s debts, and as Paul Retout was recorded as saying: “for the avoidance of doubt every penny made would go back into the Football Club.” - Paul Retout is now serving a prison sentence for deception (For a crime not connected to the Football Club).

So well did the threesome get on, they actually bought a Rugby League club, Crusaders, bringing them to play their home games on the Racecourse from South Wales. Being in the Super League, they soon found the Football Club (now non-league) to be a poisoned chalice, and began to build up the Rugby League club.

However, Crusaders crowds began to drop, and the debts that the club had from their time in South Wales began to surface, and it all began to turn sour for the owners. Eventually they put the Crusaders into administration, but amazingly they took them back on! They’d put them into administration to clear those inherited debts.

Crowds didn’t improve, and debts began to build up again, and in December 2010 they liquidated the Crusaders Rugby League Club on the eve of not knowing the decision if Crusaders would be in the Super League for the forthcoming season.

It soon became apparent that they wanted out, and would sell both the Racecourse and Wrexham Football Club, but with this came the vultures. First they agreed a deal to sell to a consortium named Van Morton Investments Ltd, who were fronted by former Shrewsbury Town Chief Exec Rob Bickerton. However, following the Leader newspaper’s exclusive interview with former Chester owner Stephen Vaughan as being part of the consortium, fans revolted at the next home game with Gateshead, following which the consortium backed away.

Next was Hotelier Stephanie Booth, a local businesswoman who had had much media coverage with her TV series ‘Hotel Stephanie’, and she announced at the Forest Green home game that she was the ‘preferred bidder’. It then became a bit of a circus, before it was found out that she didn’t meet the ‘Fit and proper persons’ criteria set by the Football Association. She then slid away without trace! 

Further bids came in from Stephen Cleeve, yet another banned company director who sold above the odds for sites that have little or no development potential. Another bid came from former Wrexham player Ashley Ward, who fronted a deal for Colin Poole, who was a disqualified director and former head of the insurance firm Claims Direct who had been struck off the solicitor's roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

With all this, the board of Wrexham Supporters Trust eventually took it upon themselves to launch a bid to take over the football club itself. Glyndwr University had already taken it upon them to purchase the stadium and the Colliers Park training ground, which they completed in July 2011.

It was at this time that Moss and Roberts announced the club’s new owner was to be Jon Harris, another former Chief Exec of Shrewsbury Town. It was well known that he didn’t have the financial clout to purchase the club, and it was soon discovered that he was yet another person to be fronting a takeover of the club for Colin Poole. Within days of this announcement, Poole withdrew his financial backing, blaming "the actions of a few misguided individuals”. With this Geoff Moss agreed to sell the Football Club to Wrexham Supporters’ Trust.

However, the takeover was not without its hitches, as the Conference board demanded that Wrexham FC paid a bond or bank guarantee of £250,000 to satisfy the board that the club can meet its legal and financial obligations for the coming season. The club is given just over 48 hours to find the money. 

Wrexham fans rallied round to raise over £150,000 in less than a day, and       the club is granted a 24-hour extension; prove that it is solvent and sign a lease for a home ground for the 2011/12 season.

The board of Wrexham Supporters' Trust, called the deal “one of the important steps to football continuing at the Racecourse”.

Despite a rigorous takeover - it took over three months for the Conference to sanction the deal – Wrexham Supporters’ Trust became proud owners of Wrexham Football Club on 30th November 2011.

Do you feel it is important that the owners of a football club are open, transparent and communicate with supporters regularly?

One of the main attributes of Wrexham Supporters Trust becoming the owners of Wrexham Football Club has been the transparency and openness.

Some fans may disagree, but they are the ones who would want to know the wages of every player. In America, the MSL have a policy where every club knows each other’s budgets, but over here it is a no, no. This means club’s play cloak and dagger with each other to avoid others from finding out how much they have to spend on wages and possible transfer fees – at Conference level, transfer fees are hardly heard of!

Having said that, Wrexham Football Club hadn’t had a shareholders meeting for over ten years before the Trust took over. Now they have two a year! There is the Football Club AGM and the Supporters’ Trust AGM, and all owners, there’s now over 3,000 of us, all have the opportunity to vote on decisions and the people we want to run the club.

Every other month a Trust Meeting is held for members where they can voice their opinions and ask questions of the Trust Board. The month in-between will see a news briefing sent out by email to members with the latest news.

These people who run the club, both the Football Club and Trust Board’s are all volunteers, who give hours of their time up for free. There are many more volunteers who also give up there time for free, whether it be working in the Club Shop, distributing leaflets to helping with Community projects. They are all part of OUR club, and have a say in OUR future.  

And finally, what are the aims of Wrexham Football Club over the next 10 years on and off the field?

The primary aim of Wrexham Football Club is to get back into the Football League at the earliest opportunity. It seems to be harder by the year, as the Conference has a strong former Football League club’s membership, all wanting to return to there heyday’s.

We are no different, but we’ll do it our way. That mean’s we won’t be putting our football club at risk. We will only spend within our means. A lot of fans still can’t get there heads around that, especially when you have the Premier League football syndrome thrown at you every where you look on the TV, newspapers and social media.

Every football fan dreams of a Roman Abramovich taking over their club. But people like him are few and far between. Make no mistake people with money have had every opportunity to purchase Wrexham Football Club since the turn of the Millennium, but no one with true intent has been near us, just chancer’s who have faded away when they were put to the test of ‘what was in it for them’.

Wrexham Supporters’ Trust is the fans. Every fan has an opinion, but any debate is done in a democratic manner. A decision is made, and we move on. Over the next ten years we hope that we have claimed our Football League place back, and are pushing for the verdict least Championship football, and maybe playing on a level field again with Blackpool! 

For more information on Wrexham Supporters Trust Click Here

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Q+A with the Chelsea Supporters Trust

In the third of our Q+A's with supporters groups we spoke to the Chelsea Supporters Trust  who are an independent group that represent Chelsea FC supporters. Taking our questions was Tim Rolls who is the groups Chairman. We discussed the importance of board representation and why joining a supporters group is important for every fan.

A huge thanks to Tim Rolls and the CST for taking the time to answer our questions.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and any follow up questions in the comments section below.

Did you come across any problems or negative comments on your journey to becoming a Trust?

We were formed after a group of like minded supporters got together and decided that the trust model had clear merits and was something that we felt could operate effectively at Chelsea. Before forming the Chelsea Supporters Trust (CST) we contacted existing supporter groups, websites, fanzines etc. and explained what we were doing. Inevitably there were concerns and suspicions, but we tried to keep dialogue going, and to prove that we were no threat to them. The club were keen to talk to us, and in our first year of existence we have had three meetings with them, which we see as positive. We said we would hold board elections, regular members meetings and an annual survey, and we have done all of these.

We formed SISA to be the 'voice of the fans' of Blackpool Supporters. One of our long term aims is to have a fan on the board of the football club. Is this something your Trust are actively pursuing and how important do you think it is to have fan representation on the board?

Board representation is a (very) long term aspiration of the CST. Realistically we are never going to own the club, but we do believe that supporter representation at board level is desirable at any club and over a long period of time we aim to work towards this.

At Chelsea you have The Fans Forum. Can you tell us what this is and how this has affected, it at all, your work at the Trust?

The Fans Forum is operated by the club. It consists of representatives from various supporters groups (including the CST), websites, fanzines etc. as well as independent representatives of (for example) season ticket holders, members, away season ticket holders etc. These latter individuals are chosen by the club from those who apply. The Fans Forum meets three times a season and is attended by club executives.  It covers issues of interest to supporters. In my view it focuses too heavily on housekeeping issues as opposed to matters of strategic importance, but at least it is a vehicle for club/supporter dialogue. Our aspiration is that the CST can, over time, have that missing strategic relationship with the club.

It has been documented that Chelsea are looking to move from Stamford Bridge to a new location. How important is this for the future of Chelsea Football Club?

To me it is fundamental that Chelsea stay at Stamford Bridge, their home since formation 109 years ago. Because of our location, in reality finding an alternative home in the direct vicinity would be almost impossible anyway.  The focus needs to be on redeveloping Stamford Bridge. A number of trust members, including myself, were actively involved in the SaynoCPO campaign in 2011, where club attempts to take the freehold of the club back from Chelsea Pitch Owners were successfully resisted.

Finally, what advice would you give for any supporter looking to join a supporters group?

Don't just join, actively participate. Attend meetings, vote in elections, get involved in campaigns. There are issues at every club and the more supporters get actively involved, the more effectively those issues can be addressed.  I believe the trust model, with democratic elections and open policies (we have four meetings a year and hold surveys to identify our members concerns), is the most effective way of ensuring supporter views are taken into account, and I wish SISA all the best in your endeavours.

For more information on Liverpool Supporters' union click here

Some words on yesterday's demonstation

We're really heartened by the support we received from SISA members and non-members alike when distributing leaflets outside of the ground. Most people we spoke to shared our concerns and were very supportive of SISA and the idea of an independent supporters group.

However, many of those that we spoke to felt that they couldn't take action during the game and the reporting of Barry Ferguson's comments yesterday, tended to make it more difficult for fans to take action during the ninety minutes.

We would just like to say thanks to all those who volunteered to help distribute leaflets today and those who took part in the demonstrations.

This, as others have said, was an ambitious project and we have learned a great deal from it.

The immediate aim of SISA is to become a Supporters’ Trust and a public vote for that purpose will be held at the No 1 Club on the 5th of April. That Trust will then provide Blackpool supporters with an independent voice. It will endeavour to hold the owners of the football club to account, aim to bring supporters representation at board level and represent the best interests of our members and by extension those of the wider support of Blackpool FC.

The committee would like again to express our gratitude to all Blackpool fans who have helped to bring SISA this far and hope that you continue to provide your support to the Blackpool FC Trust when it is formed.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Demonstration this Saturday

In a recent supporters meeting attended by well over 200 people and taking into account the wider views of our members and Blackpool fans as a whole it is very clear that now is the time for supporters of Blackpool FC to publicly voice their dissatisfaction at the lack of investment in the club. With enormous revenues coming into the club as a result of the footballing success that saw us in the Premier Division, the members feel that a greater share of those monies need to be invested into the playing side and the general infrastructure of the club – particularly the training ground.  

A number of initiatives were voted upon and this Saturday, 22nd February, will see the first of our proposed demonstrations. SISA have designed and printed 5,000 “90 million pound notes” which volunteers will hand out around the ground prior to the Birmingham game. These signs have an image of a mock 90 million pound note on one side and the statement “Oystons Must Put Football First” on the reverse side. 

On The 19th minute we would ask those taking part to raise the signs with the side displaying the 90 million pound, the drum of Hoggy  will give the cue for the demonstration and we would ask those involved to raise the roof with a chant of, ”Where's the Money gone?” 

Then, on the 53rd minute, we would ask you to raise the reverse side that demands that the “Oyston's Must Put Football first”. Again the drum will co-ordinate this display with fans being asked to once more raise the roof with a chorus of “We love you Blackpool we do.” 

SISA would like to add that our members made it clear that this demonstration is entirely about investment and transparency – it is neither aimed at, nor a reflection on the team. The playing staff, as they always do, retain our unwavering support.   Further, this is not about removing the current owners – it is entirely about a larger proportion of the club’s income being spent on the footballing side of the business and greater openness in regard to the club’s finances and plans for the future.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Transcending Rivalries

Sometimes in football there are people who transcend local rivalries. These are men that unify all supporters and touch our hearts in a way that means more than our partisan support for our own team.

So it is with great sadness that this weekend the great Sir Tom Finney passed away. A lifelong friend of our own famous players of past he will be fondly remembered for the exquisite style of football he brought to the North West and the England national team.

Rest in peace Sir Tom Finney.

Great friends; Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Jimmy Armfield, Stan Mortenson

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bloomfield Road granted Asset of Community Value - Press Release 12th February 2014

Bloomfield Road, the home of Blackpool FC, has today been confirmed as Blackpool's first ever Asset of Community Value.

The application was submitted to the council by local independent fans group, SISA (Seasiders Independent Supporters Association) in December and was given the green light in today’s council meeting after receiving cross-party support as it made its way through the council’s legislative procedures.

Having the status of Asset of Community Value means that if the owners’ should attempt to sell the ground, they will have to inform SISA of their intention. The club’s supporters will then have the option to raise money to bid for the ground or to lobby any potential purchasers concerning future use of the ground. This can help to ensure that Bloomfield Road remains part of the town’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.  
Football clubs and the grounds that they call home are a vital part of the local community. The stadium is the place that holds the memories of the fans, the team and the local community – it connects us to the past, holds us in the present and allows us to hope for the future – it is truly the field of dreams. 

As, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said, “Football stadiums are not only the heart and soul of every team, they are rooted in and loved by the neighbourhoods that surround them.”. 

SISA founder, Lee Good had this to say ''This is a significant step for supporters and the local community. Sites like Bloomfield Road can now be afforded an element of protection from unscrupulous owners or fly-by-night property developers. The football ground and team are an integral part of our community. Football has been played on that site for 126 years and we want to ensure that Bloomfield Road remains at the heart of sporting entertainment and endeavour in the town. The football club is a massive part of the town’s identity amongst locals and has also brought us to national prominence on many occasions.''

The only one other ACV in the local area was passed by Fylde council on the Victoria Hotel St Annes The group that nominated the Victoria Hotel through provisions of the Localism Act 2011 are now part owners of the popular local hostelry.

With the tradition and proud history that surrounds Bloomfield Road we feel that making Blackpool FC’s ground an Asset of Community Value ensures an extra level of protection for this mainstay of our community. A site that, for many locals, is just as iconic as the Tower that stands protectively over the town.

Official council listing here.

For more information about football clubs as Assets of Community Value please visit:

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

SISA General Meeting Minutes Saturday February 8th 2014

1) Introduction: All today’s proposals for action were submitted by members of SISA. The committee have been speaking and meeting with members and non-members from the Fylde and far beyond in order to help focus the fan base on setting achievable goals and working together for the benefit of the club, its supporters and the community. The short term focus is on getting the current owners to invest more of the club’s money into the football side of the business and to pressurise them into acting in a way more consistent with the traditions of our great club. The slogans of the campaign will be “Oystons’ Cash Cow” and “Oystons Must Put Football First”. We are hoping that supporters whether SISA members or not will rally around these ideas.

2) Bloomfield Road as Asset of Community Value: The result of SISA’s application for Bloomfield Road to be listed as an Asset of Community is scheduled to be decided by the Council on Tuesday 11th February. SISA understands that the application has cross-party support and Karl Oyston has also given his public support to the idea. The main consideration now appears to be whether it will satisfy the statutory requirements. The council seemed satisfied with the application when it was submitted to them and there are good reasons to be optimistic about a positive outcome. If it succeeds it will be the first property in Blackpool to receive Asset of Community Value Status. This will mean that should the owners choose to sell the ground, they will have to inform SISA of their intention. The club’s supporters will then have the option to raise money to bid for the ground or to lobby any potential purchasers concerning use of the ground or alternatively, address and publicise any other issues of concern. Action: SISA committee to inform Blackpool supporters of the outcome of the application (110214) 

3) Supporters Trust: SISA have been given the backing of Supporters Direct to establish a Supporters Trust for Blackpool FC. There are many advantages that having a Supporters Trust can provide for Blackpool fans e.g. collectively owning shares, providing a means of transparent and open negotiation between fans and the club as well as potentially enabling fans to have a much bigger say in the way our club is run with more co-operation with the club and accountability from the owners. It will also give greater weight to SISA and the fans it represents as well as helping to more widely publicise the issues that impact our club. There will be a public vote on 5th of April before the Yeovil game to create a Supporters Trust and it was stressed that we need as big a turnout of people as possible on that day. Action: SISA to publicise the Public Vote on the 5th April as well as providing information about what a Supporters Trust is and how it can benefit Blackpool fans. (Ongoing) Blackpool fans to turn up in great numbers at the meeting (5-4-14)

4) Proposals for Action: The proposals had all been agreed in principle with Tony Pinder, the Ground Safety Officer at Blackpool FC. The final details will still need to be agreed with Tony Pinder, the Police and the Local Authority.

a) The 90 Million Pound Note: An A4 size double sided imitation bank note was displayed with examples provide for all present to examine. The leaflet is an imitation of a traditional English bank note (included as an attachment to the minutes). This will be held up on the 19 minutes for a period of 30 seconds to a minute displaying the bank note and on 53 minutes, for 30 seconds or so, displaying the other side which contains the message “Oystons Must Put Football First”. These leaflets will be provided by SISA and distributed outside the ground before kick-off. This proposal was passed by an almost unanimous majority. Action: SISA to finalise the design, co-ordinate with other groups of Blackpool fans to try to ensure the demonstration has the biggest possible impact. (Ongoing)

b) Delayed Entry To The Ground: Fans will delay their entry into the ground until nine minutes after kick off with each minute signifying ten million of the approximately ninety million received from the Premier League money. As with the other agenda items there was lively discussion about this proposal and it was generally felt that supporters wanted to watch the game and that this approach would clearly prevent people from seeing some of the game. Action: This proposal was rejected by a hefty majority and therefore no further action necessary.

c) Post Match Sit In: It was suggested that supporters delay their departure from the ground by a maximum period of 15 minutes and in so doing make public the strength of feeling about many of the strategies the club has been employing over the years in regards to the football side of the business. Members said that there needed to be good numbers for this to have real impact and the planning had to be properly co-ordinated. Action: This was passed by a hefty majority and the Committee were asked to further develop the idea, liaise with as broad a group of supporters as possible and publicise the event properly. The committee should also make the necessary arrangements with the club, the police etc. (ongoing)

d) The Premier League Legacy Funeral March: A coffin draped in tangerine with the legend “Premier League Legacy” would be placed at the front of the march and the supporters would form a procession behind the coffin and march to and around Bloomfield Road. Action: Agreed again almost unanimously, SISA committee to make the necessary arrangements and liaise with the relevant authorities. (220214)

e) Video Montage: Supporters would be filmed explaining the reasons for their disappointment with the club or their unwillingness to renew their season ticket. This would then be edited together and made into a short film that would be posted on YouTube and various other social media. There was a big majority in favour with seven people voting against. Members wanted to see the detail of the proposal firmed up a little. Action:  The committee to arrange for filming and editing to take place, fine tune the proposal and bring back to the members when the filming is ready to take place. Members to volunteer to be filmed and provide their views on the club. (100314)

5) Members questions/issues

a) Gazette advertisement: It was suggested that SISA take out an advert in the Gazette using the design of the 90 million pound note as a background. It would include a message for Blackpool fans concerning the importance of helping to bring about changes to the way our club is run and suggesting ways that these ends might be achieved. The idea was clearly still in its early stages but was passed by a great majority of those present. Action: SISA to investigate the possibility of advertising in the Gazette and attempt to raise funds for the purpose (100314). SISA to fine tune the idea and bring it back to members for approval (100314).  

b) Ad Van billboard: A member offered to provide his Ad-van on match days. He suggested that an Oyston Cash Cow poster should be designed and he would circle the ground on a match day with the posters displayed for all supporters to see. This idea provoked much interest and met with almost unanimous approval. Action: SISA to help raise the necessary money for the posters and other costs associated with the Ad-van plan as well as offering any other help that might be required (220214).

c) Media exposure: A number of supporters felt that it would be useful if the story of Blackpool FC was to receive wider prominence in national media. A number of journalistic contacts were suggested and a local journalist volunteered her services in helping to help promote some of the problems at the club to a wider audience. Action: SISA to continue developing media contacts, particularly with football journalists such as David Conn, Daniel Storey etc (Ongoing).

Monday, 10 February 2014

Your support is fantastic

Thank you to everyone that came to Saturday's meeting. We had over 180 in attendance which was our best attended meeting to date.

We also raised £280 in badge sales and donations, collected 15 new members, increased our Facebook likes and Twitter followers and saw this Blog reach over 1,000 views.

The minutes from Saturday's meeting will be released this week so keep your eyes peeled.

Your support is fantastic.

(Picture taken before the meeting started as members were coming in, many couldn't get inside!)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Radio Lancashire - Interview

Listen to our Vice Chairman Stephen Smith discussing yesterday's meeting on Radio Lancashire.

Listen in from 22 minutes

Q+A with Manchester United Supporters Trust

In the first of a series of Q+A's with supporters groups from around the country we aim to uncover answers that we, as supporters, can empathise with. First up is Sean Bones who is the Vice-Chairman of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST). We discussed the importance of ACV's and fan representation. There's also a nod to one of our former stars.

A huge thanks to Sean Bones and Duncan Drasdo of MUST for taking the time to answer our questions.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and any follow up questions in the comments section below.

Q. One of the aims of SISA for 2014 is to have Bloomfield Road registered as an Asset Of Community Value. Can you tell us why MUST saw this as an important step for Old Trafford?

Our primary concern was to stop an overnight sale of Old Trafford without United supporters having the time to react. The Asset Of Community Value (ACV) act gives supporters a six month window to come up with an alternative bid or to attempt to stop the sale if it's not in the interests of the local community.   

In the unpopular 'bond document' issued in 2010 by the Glazers, there was a full section on the sale and lease back of Old Trafford. Without the ACV in place the owners would have been able to sell our Old Trafford stadium to a bank or financial institution and then lease it back to play matches there. 

It's also worth remembering that the ACV applies to all future owners and not just the Glazer family. It's important that supporters from all football clubs use any legislation at their disposal that can add to the protection of their football stadiums. This point is all the more poignant when you consider what has happened in the recent past at Coventry City's Ricoh Stadium and Glasgow Ranger's Ibrox stadium. 
Although it's possible to write for hours on this topic, I'll add nine additional reasons that we considered in our Supporters Trust (MUST) application for ACV status of Old Trafford. I hope this can give you some food for thought in your work towards ACV status for Bloomfield Road. 

1) Promotes the enjoyment of sport and exercise to local people 
2) Serves as a focus for community pride
3) Helps build a sense of community identity
4) Provides local people with an inclusive social environment 
5) Engages fans in the support of local charitable causes 
6) Provides economic benefits to local businesses 
7) Is the subject of considerable local interest
8) Represents the city and area nationally and globally 
9) A rite of passage for generations of young people

Q. The recent Green & Gold scarf campaign gained a lot of support amongst your fans. Was this a MUST initiative and how did you go about gaining fan support for it? Was there any negativity from fans towards it?

The idea came from a lad called 'Chatmaster' on the Red Issue supporters forum. When we first heard the idea it certainly resonated and struck a chord with us. We felt after discussions it would be an idea worth trying. In terms of promoting it, we took a calculated risk and bought a lot of green & gold scarfs and then sold them to supporters at cost. We also did our best to get the message out to our membership through 
e-mail, social media and through the various forms of news media.

Obviously the main thrust of the idea was for supporters to wear the green and gold colours of Newton Heath FC from which Manchester United were formed. It was to signify that your were against what the owners, the Glazers, were doing to Manchester United.

In terms of any negativity, the take over by the Glazers caused many fractures within the Manchester United supporter base. Some supporters wanted to remain wearing red, which was OK and not an issue to us in any way. Some supporters chose to wear both red and white and green & gold at the same time. We always saw wearing red and white as supporting the team on the field.  While at the same time wearing green and gold was supporting the clubs history and tradition. Green & gold was also clearly making a strong statement against the Glazer family and the huge debt they had placed on our football club. 

Q. A long term aim for SISA is to have fan representation on the board at Blackpool. Is this something MUST would like to have in place and is the Phoenix Fund a mechanism to enable this?

MUST's core aim has always been about supporter ownership of Manchester United. In our particular situation at Old Trafford we've always felt supporter ownership is possible because of the number of supporters we have around the world. In a sense we've already demonstrated this as sadly we've almost bought the club for the Glazers family. They've been very fortunate as in our eyes they have brought nothing to Manchester United except debt.

In the future there is also a danger that the Glazers could sell to another buyer in another leveraged takeover. If this were to happen we would end up repeating the process. The best way to beat this vicious cycle is to find a way for Manchester United to become a supporter owned club. 

As a supporters we don't seek power, but influence. We want the club to be run professionally but we want the profits that the club generates to be reinvested back in the club and for the benefit of the football club and the Manchester United community. In particular we would also seek to reduce ticket prices and invest to strengthen the quality of the playing squad on the field. We feel that the model that Bayern Munich employs would be attainable and at this time in our history and a good fit for Manchester United. As you're probably already aware, in the Bundisliga supporters own a minimum of 51% of the shares in their football clubs.

The Phoenix fund was set up for our supporters to save their money in individual accounts when the Glazers compulsory purchased their shares after the takeover. It was an emotive issues as these were shares which were precious to supporters. Some shares had been passed down through generations of supporters families to their children. 

I think it would also be fair to say that we in MUST also see the Phoenix Fund as part of a supporter takeover vehicle that's built and ready to use. If a takeover opportunity were to present itself our supporters wish to they could join en mass. If the Phoenix fund had not been built, we wouldn't be able to take advantage of any positive situations that could come our way in the future. Many supporters also have standing orders and save through their individual Phoenix fund accounts.

Q. Since SISA's formation we have actively tried to engage with the owners of Blackpool FC. This is often discussed as something that could hinder our progress. Do you have a working relationship with your owners and how important is this for the progress of MUST?

Before the Glazer takeover we had a very close relationship with the board of Manchester United. Quite possibly this was because we were at that time seen as potential owners of the club. I think it would be fair to say maybe at that time the PLC board of Manchester United we're hedging their bets. 

After the Glazer family takeover relations between the club and the trust ceased, MUST and Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA_ were expelled from the fans forum. That decision was down to David Gill and the Glazer family quite possibly because we could, and would, have asked any number of awkward questions. 

Since David Gill left his post and Ed Woodward took over, MUST along with the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) and a number of Manchester United Fanzines were recently invited to individual meetings with Ed Woodward. Only time will tell if these meetings lead to any improvement in supporter relations in the future.

Q. Finally, we hope to one day be back amongst the Premier League. There is still discussion around the formation of a 'breakaway' European League. Is this something MUST would support?

It's not a topic we talk about very often. But whenever it comes up in conversation every Manchester United supporter I've spoken to has been 100% against the formation of a breakaway European League.

I'll finish by wishing you well in your journey to return to the premiership. Blackpool away is always a game our supporters look forward to. I felt Blackpool were very unlucky to get relegated from the premiership, you played some fantastic football that season under Ian Holloway. 

Sadly for me I'm also old enough to remember when you had Tony Green in your lineup, what a player he was.

Monday, 3 February 2014

SISA - Members Meeting

We would like to invite you to our next SISA meeting which will be taking place at 1pm on Saturday 8th December in the upstairs room of the No 1 Club on Bloomfield Road.
This is clearly a critical time for all fans of BFC and therefore we hope you can join us to ensure that the supporters' voice is heard and that an appropriate approach is decided and agreed upon. An agenda will be circulated to members before the meeting takes place. If you have any items that you would like included on the agenda or suggestions of any kind, please forward them to our secretary at


Kind Regards,

Tim Fielding


SISA Chairperson