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BST Gazette Column 11/08/2017

BST11/08/2017

At the recent Supporters’ Summit, organised by Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation and held at the FA’s National Football Centre at St George’s Park, Burton at the beginning of July, Blackpool Supporters Trust was once again commended for its organisation and energy in working to bring about change in the way Blackpool FC is run, change in the influence that supporters organisations have within football clubs and change in the way in which football is regulated in this country.

No one underestimates the size of any of these tasks, nor the importance of bringing about the right degree of change for the long-term good of the game; cosmetic fixes just won’t do. Nor is anyone resting on their laurels, and as a Trust, clearly we are not alone in the campaign – we just happen to have one of the most notorious case histories in our plight with the current owners.

It has become a cliché that without fans there would be no football - but for decades now the national sport has been transforming in a way that is not necessarily in the best interests of the supporters and communities from which it sprang. It is important that fans’ voices are heard, their concerns addressed and owners respect the stake-holding fans have in their clubs. That is why the government set up Supporters’ Direct and encouraged the formation of supporters’ trusts as the preferred model for fan engagement within the game and why its policy paper on fan engagement called for structured dialogue on strategic issues between supporters and management at all football clubs. We look at the example of Fulham where the club now meets with the supporters’ representatives every month, addressing difficult questions in forum and giving full, frank and honest answers, in the belief that it is all about building mutual respect and in recognition of the role of the fan base in the health of the club.

Blackpool Supporters’ Trust was formed on the most democratic of foundations, in line with the model endorsed by Supporters’ Direct. We are not a protest organisation (though we do have a lot of issues to contend with in the way Blackpool FC has been run in recent years); we are not a mob, nor a bunch of radicals and certainly not a busted flush! We are dedicated fans of Blackpool FC, standing together to help our club and our community. It is BST members who decide on all policy matters, a democratic and representative forum of supporters, the largest there has ever been at the club.

This is a pivotal time for our club and for Blackpool Supporters’ Trust. A hard-working and responsive committee is vital to the successful and democratic functioning of the Trust. BST’s committee is democratically elected by the membership and committee elections are coming up in September. It is important that the views of all Blackpool fans are represented by Blackpool Supporters’ Trust in this way. If you have the energy, enthusiasm and passion to put football first, to help build on the achievements of the Trust and to further the long-term aims of meaningful supporter engagement in how Blackpool FC is run, we want to hear from you. If you are interested in helping continue the work of BST and have the energy and desire to devote some of your time to this cause, please consider putting yourself forward in the upcoming election.

Committee members are expected to attend committee meetings, which are held approximately once a month, to be part of sub groups within the committee (membership, media, community, governance) which also hold monthly meetings and to be available to respond to situations as they arise. They should also be prepared to support events organised by BST and to be willing to discuss issues, voice opinions and contribute ideas.

To stand for the committee, you must be a current member of BST and you must be prepared to commit to the level of participation indicated. If you are interested and for more information, please contact secretary@blackpoolsupporterstrust.com

Finally, if you are reading this and you are not yet a member of the Trust, we urge you to consider joining up – the larger our membership, the more representative and effective we can be in shaping and safeguarding the future of Blackpool FC and of making sure that the travesties of the last several years cannot be repeated.

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