To carry out all these roles I have no budget. I have to beg, borrow and re-use whatever I can, whenever I can. Thankfully, both CFU and CUFC Lottery (organised by members of CFU) have been able to help with finance, assistance and advice to ensure that the projects have been completed where possible. These projects have been done on behalf of all supporters and not just Trust members. Both home and away supporters have benefitted from the changes made around the ground[DM1] [DM2] .
During recent years when I have spoken to or worked with politicians, national groups and other club representatives I have done so with the premise that the supporters trust works for everyone and is representative of everyone involved with the football club. I am a firm believer that issues change at a National Level and at that is where to find the most amount of help.
Since the pandemic started the welfare of all supporters has been at the forefront of my thoughts. With the support of CFU we were firstly able to create the “You are Never Alone” programme last year which signposts supporters to national organisations and then “Abbey Chat” which is about listening. We have built a team of volunteers to assist with this. Now at a National Level the Football Supporters Association (FSA) has started #Terracetalk which is based on the above and recognises our concerns at a National Level. It also going to be a long-term campaign capturing the work being down by supporter groups across the country.
Diversity is another area where work has already commenced and, through my contacts at the FSA, we have been able to commence work with Anwar (Fans for Diversity) on making our club more diverse. Communities are changing everywhere and football clubs need to change with them. Clubs cannot any longer rely just on the traditional groups to build their supporter base. Unless clubs change with the times then they will no longer be the local football club and the fan base will shrink and become smaller with each generation. We need to welcome all groups and individuals and we must make sure that everyone is welcomed and feels comfortable.
While talking about coming to the match we need to re-build the links that will see existing supporters come back when lockdown allows. It will be over a year before many will have been able to start coming again. Football is a social event that sees many supporters come to matches especially to meet and mix with families and friends. During the past year those links and support mechanisms have disappeared for many fans. Some will find other means to fulfil their social needs whilst many others will have lost the habit / routine of coming on match day.
Preparing for the return of supporters to matches will require us to work on improving all areas of the matchday for all supporters. We need to aim for perfection everywhere if we can. The EFL has schemes such as “Family Excellence” and “The Away Supporter Experience” for us to use to improve upon and ensure everyone’s experience when dealing with the club is a good one, shared by everyone.
Jock Stein once said "Without fans who pay at the turnstile, football is nothing. Sometimes we are inclined to forget that. The only chance of bringing them into stadiums is if they are entertained by what happens on the football field." however, nowadays for supporters it needs to be about far more than just what goes on the green area
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