Firstly, I would like to say that I hope that all of the Torquay United community have stayed safe and well, both physically and mentally, whilst maintaining a level of financial sustainability during this difficult and lengthy unprecedented period.
Your TUST board have kept as busy as we are able behind the scenes in endeavouring to stay up to date with events so as to maintain our readiness to support Torquay United FC in any way needed. You can follow these activities through our monthly postings of our board meeting minutes and the many bulletins on our social media sites. Furthermore, you can read football news, especially that involving Torquay United in Nick Brodrick’s Fans’ Zone column every week in the Herald Express and subsequently on all three Torquay fans’ forums.
TUST wrote recently to the club’s directors via Dom Mee, as he represents the club as the Supporter Liaison Co-ordinator. Following this, we have had a productive and lengthy virtual meeting with Dom on behalf of the directors in response, sharing views on how we can all help TUFC with the resumption of football, which will be clearly challenging for all involved at this time. We took the opportunity to raise some of the concerns that fans had expressed regarding the early termination of last term’s season tickets and the communication of details about new season tickets. We aim to move forwards in working together for the good of our club. More details of this are summarised for your information below.
As well, TUST continues to liaise with the Torquay United Community Sports Trust and wholeheartedly supports the ongoing excellent work their team are doing on behalf of TUFC in outreaching to the local community, schools and youngsters. We look forward to maintaining this co-operation and support with TUFC related initiatives. We are also planning to meet again with the Official Supporters’ Club soon to establish where we can work together and avoid any duplication of roles. We are all Torquay United supporters after all.
Nationally, TUST liaison continues regularly with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) who are working closely with our politicians, through the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Secretary and committee, as well as liaising with the FA, Premier League, Football League and non-league clubs. We receive updates on a weekly basis and TUST is also an active member of the FSA-organised National Game Network and the Devon Supporters’ Trust Group. TUST has added its name to the overwhelming number of football club organisations in supporting the FSA's 'Sustain the Game' campaign, which is also being backed by an increasing number of cross-party MPs – see details below.
Finally, the best thing is the looking forward to the chance of returning to live football again, as I am sure are all football supporters around the country. Hopefully, we will eventually see you all at Plainmoor ready to go!
Michel Thomas - COYY!
Meeting with TUFC representative
As the Chairman has mentioned in his introduction, a group of TUST board members had a positive two and a half hour Zoom meeting with Dominic Mee, TUFC Media and Supporter Liaison Co-ordinator.
Dom opened the meeting by stating that the club’s directors look to work positively together with all parties for the benefit of the club. TUST welcomed this and said it was always its wish to do so and to contribute to the club’s growth and success, even if this meant offering constructive criticism on occasions.
The continuing impact of the Covid crisis on short term plans for the season starting and other initiatives was noted and accepted by all. With this in mind the following points were covered;
TUST to help the Club by circulating official announcements via its communication with members and social media (and independently via NB’s column in the Herald Express where appropriate).
The Club would not consider the re-introduction of Matchday Ambassadors for the foreseeable future due to Covid-19. We propose to discuss this further with the Club as we feel that Ambassadors could make a valuable contribution when fans return to Plainmoor during these unprecedented circumstances.
There was recognition that both parties shared the same objective of promoting awareness of the club in the business community and generating support from it. Ways of working together towards this goal and how our roles may complement each other would be considered in due course.
TUST and Torquay United Community Sports Trust (TUCST) were keen to re-launch the successful pre-match Fan Zones, although this is not practical in the short term due to Covid-19 restrictions.
TUST explained how together with TUCST it had facilitated Community Hubs, taking the TUFC message to various locations and communities to promote interest in and support for the Club.
TUST to provide details of its disabled facilities information and ideas for projects it could support.
The Club were informed of the support and sponsorship that TUST had given to TUCST and to the Torquay United Women's Football Club.
The Senior Gulls, which is open to all supporters, has made a good start and is co-ordinated by TUCST in alliance with TUST and with support from the club.
It was suggested that TUST and TUCST could assist the club with expansion of the newly formed Torquay United Former Players' Association.
The Club would be happy to help TUST in facilitating a presentation event in Boots & Laces for the Ian Twitchin Trophy once current restrictions are lifted.
TUST fed back some thoughts on the curtailed season tickets. Its experience was that most ST holders were happy to forgo any potential refund for missed games, a position actively encouraged by TUST.
In conclusion, all present agreed that it had been a positive, forward-looking meeting. It was proposed to hold regular meetings in future.
Summary of board meeting held on 17thAugust.
The new season
Limited attendances will be permitted and the Club had already made arrangements to sell season tickets to existing ST holders. The National League management had subsequently issued guidance advising against the sale of season tickets but this had resulted in confusion and frustration among its member clubs. TUFC’s own plans for selling tickets to other supporters had not been publicised at the time of this meeting.
Nick Brodrick drew attention to the new ‘Let Fans In’ campaign aimed at persuading the government to allow attendance at grassroots matches.
The Chairman highlighted the success of the recent Jack Leslie Campaign in reaching its target for funding a statue at Home Park in his memory.
Torquay United Community Sports Trust (TUCST)
Members of the TUST board had met with Jamie McInnes, manager of TUCST, the previous week for an update.
With some relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, TUCST was very busy running sessions for children of all ages.
It had been suggested during the meeting that, if the Official Supporters Club gets off the ground, it may be appropriate for it to take on the organisation of the TQ1 Club (for juniors). This led to some discussion about the respective roles of TUST, TUOSC and TUCST and how the organisations could work together to complement each other and benefit the Club. A meeting of the three parties was proposed.
JM had also updated on the plans for the Women’s Football Club. The club had been successful in building a new squad and would be playing in the same league as last season’s results had been expunged.
Policy for donations
TUST has a commitment to allocate up to 50% of its net surplus to community or football related causes. For the current year this stands at approximately £2,700, subject to confirmation of the final accounts.
There was a wide-ranging debate about possible uses for these funds from local welfare charities such as those addressing mental health and domestic abuse, to those with a football focus such as disability facilities at Plainmoor or TUCST. It was agreed to give this further consideration in due course so that a recommendation can be made to the AGM.
Sustain The Game!
Supporters’ groups from across the country have joined forces with politicians and pundits to launch “Sustain The Game!” – a new campaign which calls for urgent action from the authorities to protect the existence of clubs throughout the game.
TUST has added its support to this FSA co-ordinated campaign, the principles of which are;
Protect our clubs – football clubs are community assets and an important expression of individual and local identity, they deserve legal protection and urgent support to secure their future;
Transparency – everyone has a right to know who owns their club, and how clubs and the authorities operate. Owners are custodians of clubs on behalf of all of us;
Financial controls – fans want rules with real teeth which are independently enforced, clubs and leagues can’t be left to regulate themselves;
Strengthen the pyramid – football as a whole is wealthy, but we need a smarter and fairer use of the money in the game to encourage sustainability;
Supporter engagement – fans are the lifeblood of the game, they need a voice in their clubs and on all issues that affect them and their communities.
SUPPORT TUST - SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY