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

No comments:

Post a Comment