Often Partisan

Why I’m Involved In Trying To Set Up A Supporters Trust

You may have seen in this morning’s Birmingham Mail a report about the formation of a Supporters Trust for Birmingham City. As a “key instigator”, I thought I would share with you my personal reasons and opinions on the whole idea.

I guess the first thing I should talk about is why I’m involved. Back in July, I wrote a blog post about something I thought could help Birmingham City. There were talks of protests on the car park, and it seemed to me that there was a section of the fanbase that were incredibly unhappy with the way things were going, for whatever reason. The response I received from that blogpost was incredible; I got lots of emails from fans who told me that they too thought that it was time something legitimate and credible was set up for fans to help them become a bigger force in the way the club is run.

I should reiterate again here I’m not particularly anti-board. I’m not pro-board either; I think that whilst some of their decisions may have been naive and ill-informed, they weren’t malicious in intent or for that matter for any other reason than to advance the club. They took a massive gamble on wages and transfer fees, and lost. If the team had gelled better, if there hadn’t been injuries and if maybe we’d been a bit more adventurous – well, would people have moaned so much if we’d have finished top eight and a Carling Cup win? I don’t think so.

I’m not anti-supporters clubs either. I’ve seen first hand the wonderful job that they do, and I think that they’re something that should be embraced by a supporters trust. Supporters clubs tend to be limited to geographical areas, and it’s my opinion that there needs to be an umbrella entity that is responsible to it’s constituents that can speak for a larger quantity of fans. Supporters trusts are financially regulated and audited, democratically accountable bodies that are run by the fans for the fans. Because you have to be elected to be at the top, you cannot run it for your own gains. Because the accounts have to audited properly, then there is ultimate transparency for people who want to know where their subs are going. In short, it’s a body that has to be seen to be operating properly from the outside to continue to have legitimacy.

I’ve seen some criticism that there aren’t any real aims or objectives yet rather than some woolly stuff about communication. My reasoning for that is simple – my aims and objectives for a supporters trust may well differ from those of other people. Why should I impose my opinions on them? All I’m concerned about is setting up the structure – if a trust is formed, then it’s down to the trust to work out what they want to achieve. I’d like to see a situation where the fans and Pannu/the board talk to each other. I feel that if that could be achieved, and parties listened to each other good stuff would happen as a consequence, like a snowball rolling down a mountain turning into an avalanche. I see my role as literally kicking the first bit of snow at the top. The ball may end up going off a cliff never to be seen again, it may end up caught in a snowdrift – but at least I’m happy in my own mind that I’ve tried. I’m not one for sticking around to be elected – I have no intention of standing for election and will refuse any proposal to nominate me. As a blogger, I will be supportive but it’s important for me to stand to the side so that I can be objective about it on here.

And that’s what it comes down to for me. I’m trying to do something positive to help the club I love. I’ve been involved in the fans forums before – and whilst they’ve done some great work there isn’t anything planned for the near future. They are run at the club’s convenience – not the fan’s. They are run by the rank and file Blues staff, who do a good job running the club on a day to day basis and listen when there are problems. But those rank and file Blues staff aren’t qualified to talk about the direction of the club as a whole, the financial aspects or the “big picture”. I will fully accept that the club’s owners are the board, and that they can run the club as they see fit. However, it’s my belief that the moral owners of the club are the fans – without us there is no club. I think it’s the board’s moral obligation to at least listen to the fans and take on board what is said.

It’s not something that is set in stone – no positions have been filled, no board has been elected and no principles have been decided. It might not happen. Even if it’s decided that a trust should be formed, it’ll take time. All I ask of anyone is that they try and make the public meeting on the 29th, and if they have questions – ask them. I don’t expect every fan to agree with the idea of a supporters trust, but the more that would join a supporters trust, the more good it could do.

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20 Responses to “Why I’m Involved In Trying To Set Up A Supporters Trust”

  • Stevie says:

    As a season ticket holder of 20 years I think this is a great idea.thanks to you and the others for trying to get this going, we can only try can’t we. See you on 29th.

  • old blue nose says:

    Although you obvously have the club at heart ,do you really think Mr Pannu and the board will be any more forthcoming with information than they are now(i think not) We as fans should not have to try to force co operation out of them .IT IS OUR RIGHT.

  • Bluemat says:

    I also do not oppose the idea and cant see any harm in taking the proposal for the trust forward, however i do not see how they will be able to make any impact on the board at this moment in time. Thats not a criticism of the board its just how the club is being run at the moment, almost remotely from abroad. It maybe that the trust gets into operation and the club will welcome it as good publicity but the reality is that it wont make much difference. Many big corporations operate something similar in the form of a quality circle, orginally born from Kaizen circles, in japan i believe. Where different personel from a range of departments meet with the owners of the company for feedback sessions. Its believed that is promotes good feeling and allows the employees to feel wanted and valued but ultimately its means nothing, its a chance for them to get things of their chest, the owners can say they are listening but its about actions really. I hope it works out, i honestly do but i feel ultimately it will result in even further frustration. KRO!!

  • BigBlueMachine says:

    Fair play to you for actually getting off your backside and trying to make a difference. Like you say, it may work or it might not, but at at least you’re trying to open up some dialogue between fans and the club. Rather than certain individuals sitting behind the anonymity of a keyboard on message boards and having a ‘pop’ at you perhaps they should stick their head above the parapet, attend the meeting and voice their concerns or otherwise there.


  • Oldbluenose says:

    I go along with most of bluemat, says in his comments,!!. but the long and short of it all is — if we do nothing,?. what can we rightfully expect in return,??.

    • Parisblue says:

      A glorified talking shop will make no difference to these owners but it may make one or two fans feel better. I remember Roy Warhurst coming to talk to us at Digbeth Civic Hall in the days of the Blue Revolution but we didn’t get far with the idea. The present owners are rotten to the core and the only way to change things is to stop putting money into the club in a bid to force us into administration. There is always a chance that a decent honest owner would appear and we could then begin the long road to recovery. To the barricades I say and be done with talking!

      • almajir says:

        So you’re saying don’t buy any tickets and don’t support the club?

        Sorry, I’m out.

        • Martin Liveley says:

          Your a Legend Almajir. Keep up the good work son.

        • Parisblue says:

          I am saying don’t go to home games and don’t buy any goods from the club shop. In short don’t put a penny into the club. Of course one can’t stop supporting the club because it is in our blood but the point is we can not go forward under the present ownership and it calls for extreme measures. I know you are an apologist for the Board but surely even naive people must realise the seriousness of the situation if club stalwarts like Kevan Broadhurst are leaving. The only way forward is to get rid of the present owners and I am prepared to do anything that will achieve this.

          • almajir says:

            I’m not an apologist for the board at all, I just don’t think people understand the full situation as well as they think that they do.

            I’m sorry, but I fail to see how not going to games is going to help any situation. I don’t go to games to support the board, I go to support the team. It’s bad enough as it is with attendances down, without more people deciding not to go in some ill-fated attempt to force out the owners.

            Then there is the next question – can you guarantee Blues’ next owners will be better? I can’t.

          • ScudMuffin says:

            So you force the club into administration…who buys it? If a supporters trust can buy it and run it then great, but otherwise you are looking at waiting for someone to come along and buy the club which isn’t a certainty. Plus you run the risk of dropping into league one which is tough to come out of (if it isn’t automatic upon administration) without a player firesale and transfer requests.

            The first thing that is needed for the club is to get it into the black financially. The club should be able to fund itself ideally, regardless of who owns it. I think cutting ticket prices across the board to a maximum of £20 a ticket (look at the european games) would be much better. The reason being that more bums on seats means more revenue if you keep a decent price structure, bare in mind if you want to go and see Tamworth play it’s £15 a game which I consider steep for the Conference. Once that is in place then the club should look at wages and what not, force relegation clauses and such.

      • Carl says:

        I’m against the idea of not supporting the club, by it’s definition. If you don’t go to the games and buy tickets, you’re just a follower, how are you offering ‘support’ to the club.

        There’s no evidence of the owners taking money from the club – it all goes into the players pockets! So I don’t understand your stance.

        Unlike you, I’ll be supporting the best manager we’ve had in years on the terraces!

  • Qatarblue says:

    According to latest Government recommendations it may become obligatory for a fans representative to sit on the Board – so timing of such a movement could gel well with this requirement and give the fanbase a proper voice – and also better feedback from the boardroom. The factor that is missing big time presently.

  • Parisblue says:

    This could go on and on and it is obvious we have diametrically opposed views so I will make this my last word.
    No, I can’t guarantee the next owners will be better but I can certainly guarantee they won’t be worse. We cannot compete with clubs like Blackpool because they are properly run and can afford to employ the likes of Ferguson and Phillips whom we could not have held onto even if we had wanted to. If you just look at the list of departures on the playing side and the administrative side I think it is screamingly obvious that the present set-up is, to say the least, totally incompetent. The fact that Yeung faces a custodial sentence if convicted of monet laundering says it all for me. No wonder we can’t get a permanent sponsor. Yeung paid a stupid price for the club and no-one is going to make an offer which would enable him to get his money back. The only way the club can be sold involves going into Administration and for Yeung to make astronomical losses. Even if it means a points deduction and subsequent relegation I support this action. We could start to comeback in the way that Southampton are doing. It infuriates me that we are in this position and a talking group is not for me. I suppose we will just have to agree to differ but if a lot of fans support your idea I wishh you good luck.

    • almajir says:

      Thing is, a supporters trust would outlast the board whatever happened. In my time as a fan I can think of four owners I can remember clearly – the current board, Sullivan and the Golds, the Kumars, and Ken Wheldon. If I as a (relatively) young fan can remember four different boards, then surely a supporters trust would also be there for the duration – and would deal with whatever board was in power. It’s not about fighting Carson, or forcing him out – it’s about dealing with things as they are. If things change down the pike, then you’d hope an ST would change to reflect that.

      Right now, no one knows anything about what’s going on really. That needs to change.

  • AR says:

    I pray that there are not many “supporters” like Parisblue. How can not going to our home games achieve anything but greater problems for the club he claims to support? I think “to the barricades” shows how little he knows what to do.

  • TR7 says:

    I really really don’t want to pour cold water on a ‘ best of intentions ‘ idea that seems so obvious and idealistic , bourne from genuine interest and love of the club , but the real fact of the matter is , Football in the ‘ Top Tier ‘ is currently big business , this by default completely negates ANY ‘ supporter ‘ input.
    Blues are out of the aforementioned elite , for the foreseeable , if we’re honest. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t ( somehow ) stagger back into the Premiership in the next 5 years or so , and IF we do , there are predatory groups that might want to get involved.
    All very ‘ interesting ‘ to observe , but that’s all !…..
    Do not even start to kid yourselves that ‘ fans ‘ can get any worthwhile say in such matters !
    It ain’t gonna happen …..accept it !

  • Wingman Blue says:

    What alternative is there to a Supporter’s Trust? Whinge? Turn our back on CH and his new grafters to score points off Pannu & Young? Who would want to but a club riven by discord and lack of support? A Supporter’s Trust, properly run, would be a big plus when Carson decides to sell. What credible investor would put money into a rabble?

  • Bluenose 87 says:

    In Almajir we trust!

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