Often Partisan


The Blues Trust held a “Strategy Day” on June 21 to “generate fresh ideas, ensure we are aligned with supporter’s and member’s expectations and to involve more key individuals moving forward”.

Having seen some criticism of the Blues Trust of late I wanted to start some sensible debate about their current situation. As a member of the Trust I was invited to the strategy meeting mentioned in the first paragraph; unfortunately due to personal circumstances I wasn’t able to attend and gave my apologies. It was a shame I couldn’t go as I feel it could have been a good chance to find out where they were and what they were planning to do.

As a founder member of the Trust it’s difficult for me to say this, but I do get the feeling that the Trust has lost their way somewhat. I recognise that they are in a Catch-22 position; they cannot attract new members without being seen to achieve stuff but it is incredibly difficult to achieve anything without new blood. I know most of the board of the Trust very well and they are good people; season ticket holders who follow the club home and away and who have the clubs absolute best interests at heart. However, as I am finding myself with OP, I think they are struggling to commit the time that they want to the Trust because they have their own lives – family, work, and all that good stuff – to deal with.

What doesn’t help is that I still cannot tell you what happened at the strategy meeting as I’ve seen nothing about it online. For the trust to succeed they need to be much more on the ball about getting news of their plans and actions out there and right now that isn’t happening; their twitter feed hasn’t been updated since June 1 and there has been no newsletter emailed to members as of yet. I think they will find it hard to retain membership if they cannot stay on top of keeping people informed as to what is going on. Compare this to the Supporters Forum (which again, due to work pressures I was unable to attend) which was excellently reported on by Karl of Joys and Sorrows – that can be viewed here. I should add at this point that those who forwarded me questions via email and comments had their suggestions/questions forwarded to the club prior to the meeting and that they will have been looked at by the club despite my not being there.

I have the personal opinion that it’s part of a bigger malaise. Back in March I was looking to pull together a dossier for the Football League to investigate what was happening at BCFC; when I contacted Supporters Direct for their assistance I was basically told not to bother as it was pointless and instead help them with their political pressure to help change the governance of the game. While I have no doubt that is a worthy cause and is a good way of achieving change I couldn’t see how that would help the massive disaffection among Blues fans – and I think forcing that message has hamstrung the Blues Trust somewhat as they aren’t being given the support to campaign for their own club. As it happened I decided not to pursue the dossier alone for the simple reason that there was obvious machinations towards the sale of the club even back then; while that process has stalled somewhat I still don’t want to do anything right now that could endanger the club being moved into new hands.

I think the Trust are suffering a hearts and minds problem. There is  a vocal set of  Blues supporters online who are anti-Trust; that’s their prerogative and I would never say that they aren’t allowed to have that opinion. While I can understand that there is some reluctance to engage with these people online on the Trust’s part I think that there are some valid concerns that should be addressed; as much as criticism is hard to take sometimes it has to be done because it can help improve the situation.

I don’t want the Trust to see this as an attack on them. Far from it, I want them to succeed and I feel guilty because I can’t do any more than I have. I will openly state that I’ve been asked to join the board of the Trust in the past but I have refused due to the fact I run OP and that I need to be independent to report on what is happening – both good and bad. I hope that they can find people who can help push things forward but I think they really need to examine their communication and work on that to bring more people into the fold.

As a postscript, I should use this opportunity to confirm some news about Often Partisan – due to a new job I’m going to be moving out of the Birmingham area next month and I am afraid posts on OP may become a little more sporadic due to that. I am intending to carry on but I am very aware that I will have new pressures to deal with and that will affect the output on this site. Also – if you would like something to cheer you up, this morning I’ve published a very special post on the book website introducing a very special contributor to the book, Harry Harrison. Harry, who has  drawn the daily satirical cartoons for the South China Morning Post has drawn some exclusively for the book – and one for the website. You can see it here.

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