Below Andrew Stephen begins to provide his thoughts on the future of Cambridge Fans United
Having been an avid Cambridge United fan since 1967, I feel honoured and privileged to have been elected as the new Chairman of CFU. This is an important time in the history of CFU, which seeks to redefine its role for the future, to represent supporters better and to overcome past divisions.
I am delighted that there are a number of different supporters’ organisations and a flourishing fanzine. I don’t see them as rivals. Supporters are the lifeblood of any club. Indeed there would be no point in a club without them. The role of a fans’ organisation is to keep the lines of communication between fans and club open and clear. CFU’s role historically has been clearer whenever there has been a crisis at the club. There have been a few of those. But our role is far more important than that of firefighting. The term “critical friend” is disliked by many because it is so easily misused and misunderstood. People who have the task of running football clubs or any other large organisation are concentrating on the things which have to be done. They may well be grateful to others who point out other things that could or should be done. Things which can easily be missed in the hurly burly of financial survival and which, perhaps, our volunteers can help with.
CFU has two huge advantages over other fans organisations; significant financial clout and a permanent voice on the Board. These can only be effectively used if CFU are fully in touch with their members’ concerns and clear about its own identity and objectives.
One of our chief roles in the future has to be making sure that the needs of all supporters are met by the club in order to encourage greater diversity and inclusion. All supporters should be able to feel welcome and safe at the Abbey Stadium and the elderly, the unemployed, those with special needs and the vulnerable may need provision which goes beyond that which football clubs usually provide. Identifying these needs and making proposals for new provision are obvious ways in which CFU can help the club and our fans.
In addition, CFU itself needs to become more diverse and inclusive. We have far too few young people amongst our members. Our membership does not accurately reflect the full spectrum of ages, views and cultures which make up our society. We need to consider different types and prices for memberships to suit whatever involvement people seek. We must establish better relationships with the Supporters’ Club and encourage more women to take on more leading roles….a strange thing to have to say in this day and age! Most of all we have to increase membership by giving people a reason to join without waiting for the crisis which we all hope never comes. I hope that we can represent all supporters fairly and with integrity and that OUR voice in the club is listened to because it is respected.