Handbook:Open meeting to introduce the Trust
Rationale for open meeting
An initial open meeting can be used to introduce Supporters Direct and the principles and philosophy behind the Supporters’ Trust movement. It is a good opportunity to provide examples about what has happened at other clubs and with other Supporters’ Trusts. The meeting can be used to relate both the theory of Trust formation and experiences from other Trusts around the country to the situation at your club. The open meeting is also the stage to get a working group together to take the idea forward, having first obtained the mandate of the meeting to proceed with the formation of a Trust.
Get together a small, focused and capable group of committed supporters to organise the event and contact Supporters Direct for further information. Set a convenient date for the open meeting and plan backwards. Allow enough time for leafleting of home games and for publicity to take effect.
Identify one or two key aims you would like the Trust to achieve, which people can clearly identify with. Use examples from other Trusts, like constructing a better relationship with the club; raising money to buy a shareholding in the club; electing a supporter to the club’s board; uniting divided supporter groups at the club, or simply playing a greater role in the life of the club.
In organising the open meeting be as open, inclusive and transparent as possible. This will prevent any criticism of the Trust being exclusive or elitist. Inform the club and its officials, other supporters’ groups, local MPs, councillors and the local media.
If you plan to design a leaflet and distribute it at home games, get the permission of the club to distribute it. Equally, advertise the event in the club programme and fanzines, on Internet message boards and email groups. See section 2.5 later in this Handbook for more detail on using the media to publicise Trusts.
Choose a well-known local place, somewhere central and/or near the ground. Book well in advance and get confirmation in writing. Try to have a back up option just in case – it has been known for groups to be let down. If possible, do a ‘dry run’ of the event and double check everything.
Some trusts have held this at the football club in the past, although this may have worked for some, there is the danger that this could lead to confusion about the independence of a supporters trust amongst the fan base which is obviously a big concern, hence on the whole it is advised to choose a different location.
Ideally, speakers on the night should include the following:
- A Supporters Direct representative
- Representative(s) from other established Supporters’ Trusts, preferably in the same division as your club, to hear what they have done at their club
- A well-known local figure to chair the event, such as a radio DJ, or local MP
The meeting organisers.
Plan an agenda for the meeting (see Appendix 1 for a model agenda) and distribute this at the meeting. Allow time for a Question and Answer session to ensure people have their say and can raise points that are important to them. This will also give the Trust feedback on what issues are of significant interest.
After the ideas are presented, put the proposal to establish a working group to go ahead and register the Trust to the vote. Ask for a show of hands – those for, against, and abstentions – and minute the results for post-meeting publicity. It is imperative that there is a mandate from a broad group of people to take the idea of setting up a Trust further, or the group will attract criticism. As already stated, Supporters Direct will only work with groups who are inclusive and accessible to all, and not those dominated by a ‘clique’. Ensure that there is a place to sign up members to the working group and for people to put down what skills they have to offer.