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Question of the Week

Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?



In Town We Trust!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 02/01/2003

THE Grimsby Town Supporters Trust will be officially launched in the New Year. I look forward to that and becoming a member. Run correctly, the trust will be an asset not only to the fans and supporters, but to the club as well, if only they understood that.

At the present time, it seems that they don't!

Many of the trusts operating in the UK have a representative sitting on the board thereby ensuring that the supporters have a voice in the running of the club. That, to me, seems to be a very sensible arrangement as one of the trusts aims is to help to bring the club and community together.

But when the suggestion was made that the Grimsby Town trust should have a representative on the board, the response from the chairman, Peter Furneaux, was that the trust should sponsor a youth team or inject funds into the club in the same way that new directors are being asked to do.

Now there is nothing wrong in saying, that if you want to serve on the board, you have to put some money into the club. That too is a very sensible idea, at the moment.

But what the club do not seem to realise is that the trust is formed of the people who have put more money into the club on a daily basis than any director. The fans and supporters are the trust and they have long qualified, by the money they have put in so far, to have a representative on the board. Never mind sponsoring a youth team or whatever, even though that is what might happen once the trust is up and running and doing its fundraising.

But this ruling that money has to be put in before a rep can sit on the board is a clear indication of the club's lack of understanding of what a supporters trust is.

That is a pity as it provides many advantages to the club particularly in the area of community support. One of its aims is to promote that relationship between the community and the club and because it represents the supporters it may be more effective in doing so.

I have no problem in the club waiting to see how the trust performs before it makes a decision because many supporters will probably do the same before they get involved, so it is important that the trust performs in the way it is intended and, if what they have done so far in setting up the trust is a gauge, then we need have no fears about that. The organising committee have done a brilliant job.

But when the club do make their decision it should not be on the basis of how much money they are putting in. It should be on the basis that the club recognise that the supporters are a part of the team and not just a source of income.

It was only a few weeks ago that the club stated their intention to ask the NE Lincs Council to treat the club as a community asset. How can they justify that if they are preventing the club's major asset i.e. the supporters, from having a say in the running of the club?

I would suggest that a representative of Supporters Direct brief the club on what a trust is about and how it operates, because if the trust is to be successful, it needs first to ensure that the club understand what it's all about and it looks right now that they don't!

Let us not look back in a few years time and see an opportunity that was lost. Because if the club do not recognise the value of a supporters trust, that is exactly what will happen and that would be a great pity as supporters trusts around the UK have done a great deal for their clubs by working together to achieve joint aims.

(The opinions I have expressed here are my own and not those of the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust which I have no connection with except as a prospective member)

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