Vice Chairman's Comments
Dear Members and Supporters,
I’m writing this introduction to our latest Newsletter as Chair,Michel Thomas, is taking a well-earned break visiting his family in Australia for a few weeks.
It’s been a very good few weeks on the pitch, with the team really beginning to gel under Gary Johnson’s management.
Supporters have been delighted at the (mostly) entertaining performances being displayed by our young team and there seems to be a real momentum growing, and belief that if this progress continues we can win the league and the automatic promotion spot.
Off the pitch, there have been more key staff leaving: with Geoff Harrop following Tim Herbert out of the club. Groundsman Chris Ralph, who has done such fine work on the pitch has also moved on-with Argyle securing his services.
TUST are now meeting with Patrick Tinkler, who has taken on the Club Secretary role along with his media duties. We hope to build on the good relationship we had built with Tim and Geoff and also hope that George Edwards will attend meetings in the future-we are yet to meet with him formally but have made several requests to do so.
We note that George Edwards will be joining Mel Hayman on the new (and long awaited) Board of Directors. Hopefully, the Board will be further strengthened soon-it would be good to have some experienced local supporters with the requisite expertise and knowledge “on board” as well as to provide appropriate challenge and oversight.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or other members of the TUST Board should you wish to find out more or have any appropriate matters or issues you want TUST to take-up. Mail us at email@example.com
Your December update includes:TUFC Proposals, Strategy Team, TUFC Liaison Meetings, Torquay United Official Supporters Club (TUOSC), Matchday Ambassadors, Torquay United Fan Zone, Visit to Green Taverners and Argyle Family Zone, United Football Supporters Organisation (UFSO), Support TUST with the Torbay Lottery and finally ... an up to date financial report.
I would like to wish all our members a Very Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year.
Robin Causley Vice Chairman
There is no update on Clarke Osborne’s plans for a new stadium but planning applications are being monitored. At the TUST board meeting on 19th November, the chairman summarised the interest shown by politicians of all parties in the Club’s plans for relocation and the recent council decision to protect the use of Nightingale Park for ‘community sport and leisure’ use in line with the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
More recently we have drawn members’ attention to a petition launched by Liberal Democrat councillors opposing the development of Nightingale Park. It is understood that the full council will debate the decision of the elected mayor to entertain development of the Park on 5th December. We continue to monitor the situation with interest and will keep our members informed of anything significant. We believe that, as Mr Osborne is primarily a property developer with no previous connection with the club, we need to ensure that any relocation of the stadium supports the long-term future of the club. To this end, we are monitoring developments closely.
It has been agreed to co-opt Jon Gibbes to the board for a term of six months to specifically assist with the TUST Strategic Plan.
An initial meeting of the TUST Strategy Team has been held which has considered the report commissioned from Supporters Direct on the ‘Club Ownership and related matters’. The level of investment that the owner has made recently is to be welcomed and the impact of this has been seen both on and off the pitch. However, we remain alert to the possible scenarios should Clarke Osborne wish to withdraw his interest in TUFC at some future date.
A range of proposals to prepare for this were tabled and approved in principle, subject to further consideration by the Strategy Team. The crucial thing is to be prepared in advance of such an occurrence and to have a plan in place.
TUFC Liaison Meetings
A wide range of issues had been raised at the last meeting with the Club which had been with Geoff Harrop a few days before he left his position. The Chairman had also written to Clarke Osborne on behalf of the board expressing concern about the inability of some small clubs in NLS to prepare and cater for the number of TUFC supporters who attend (following the Weston-Super- Mare experience). He had also raised concerns about the impact that the behaviour of a small, unruly element of the support was having on the Club’s reputation.
With the recent changes in personnel, there had been little response on any of these issues and the board continue to be concerned at the failure of the Club or its owner to engage meaningfully with TUST despite its significant efforts to support the Club and new initiatives. An urgent meeting with George Edwards had been requested.
A further liaison meeting has been held with Patrick Tinkler who is now acting as Club Secretary as well as fulfulling several other roles. It has also been announced that George Edwards and Mel Hayman have been appointed to the Club’s board with the possibility of more local directors to follow.
Torquay United Official Supporters Club (TUOSC)
Since the previous TUST meeting the board of TUOSC had stood down and its chairman had blamed TUST interference as being one of the reasons for its demise. This is firmly denied by the board and an invitation for him to explain his comments had been ignored.
The Club have confirmed that TUOSC has ceased to exist and details have been removed from the Club website. The board remain concerned about the future of the Junior Gulls. It is understood that the Club are considering transferring this group to the TU Community Sports Trust, a move endorsed by the TUST board.
Torquay United Fan Zone
Our first indoor Fan Zone in Boots and Laces, before the Concord Rangers match, was a great success, with a good number of families turning up to participate in the activities on offer: FIFA 2019, Table Football, Speed Goal,Table-Football Connect 4,etc.
Several attending told us it was their, or their child’s, first visit to Plainmoor, and were very positive about what was on offer.
A Christmas themed Fan Zone will take place in “Boots” before the Welling match on 8th December. Mince-pies and mulled wine will be on offer together with all the activities described above.
Asa Hall and George Essuman were in attendance at the Concord Zone-with George taking on “all-comers” on FIFA, and it is hoped that other players will be attending on Saturday.
Thanks are due to Stewart, Boots & Laces manager for his enthusiastic support and help with the Zone.
Visit to Green Taverners and Argyle Family Zone
Robin Causley, John Downer ( PLFF Grant Co-ordinator), Jamie McInnes and Emma Potter (TUCST),were guests of the Green Taverners for the recent Argyle match v Fleetwood.
We spent some time with “GT” officials discussing their various projects and activities, finding out about their history and relations with the club and the issues and challenges they have faced as well as their future plans and aspirations.
The GT’s are a very well run group with a strong volunteer base, whose main aim is to raise funds for Argyle related projects such as their Community Trust, the Argyle Academy, Ladies’ Team, the Senior Greens and local and national charities.
So successful have the GT’s been in their fundraising , that they will shortly be funding the building of their own club house at the ground, which will be used for a range of events and activities which will benefit the club and local community.
Following our meeting we were treated to a pasty and pint at the “Fan Fest” which is held in a marquee attached to their building, and as usual was very busy. Music and comic entertainment is provided which builds up a good atmosphere prior to the match.
This was followed by a visit to the “Family Zone” under the Family Stand.
This is overseen by the Argyle Community Trust and their staff met with us to show us around and see the pre-match entertainment and activities on offer to young people and their families.
The facilities and resources provide were very impressive including PS4 games, table-tennis, computers, televised football, a food and drinks bar, games for younger children etc.
The environment was very well furbished, with excellent toilets and baby-changing facilities and very friendly and welcoming staff and volunteers.
Much of the funding or labour to refurbish the zone was provided by the GT’s.
At the end of our visit we watched the match-which wasn’t very entertaining; though Argyle scraped a win!
Unified Football Supporters’ Organisation (UFSO)
The board supported proposals to create this new organisation out of the merger of Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation. This was formally approved by both bodies on 22nd November and the new organisation is likely to be fully established by the end of the year.
In the meantime, we have made a submission via a Supporters Direct survey to the FA investigation in to the ‘protection of football stadia’.
This scheme has continued successfully gaining popularity with supporters as they enter the ground passing our regular MatchDay Ambassadors: Nick, Michel, Jon and Rob.
Not only do these volunteers meet and greet but they also help hard pressed club officials by dealing with fans' queries and concerns on busy match days. With the continuing improving performances on the pitch supporters are coming into Plainmoor with wide smiles on their faces, to be met by equally welcoming Ambassadors helping to enhance the match day experience. It has been interesting to meet people coming to watch their first ever Torquay match, notably a growing number of young children and for them TUST badges have proved very popular - although many older supporters have wanted one too!
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Balance 5th December 2018
Account 1: £2345.10 Account 2: £33541.45
Premier League Fans Fund: £2862.01