FAN ENGAGEMENT BULLETIN
TUST looking for fan engagement
TUST congratulates our Devon neighbours, Exeter City, for coming top of all the clubs in the four tiers of English football in the recently released Fan Engagement Index and Plymouth Argyle on their 14th place in the top twenty.
The Fan Engagement Index - based on publicly available data - awarded points to clubs based on how they communicate with supporters, how fans help with the club’s governance and the transparency of supporter meetings.
Kevin Rye, who previously worked with Supporters Direct and is now a fan engagement consultant said, “ One of the reasons why clubs fall down is because they don’t have a direct relationship with the most active supporter organisation, which in most cases is a supporters’ trust.” He added, “ I hope this gives some principles and structure to fan engagement and opens up the conversation between fans and clubs, bringing the two together.”
With Torquay United currently outside the EFL, the club clearly wasn’t included. But had it been where might it have come?
Currently TUST has been frozen out from any involvement in the club despite it being the only supporter organisation in support of the Gulls, with over 360 paid up fan and corporate members. TUST chairman Michel Thomas said, “ I strongly feel that it is extremely important that, at every football club, the owners and directors should liaise closely and positively with any supporters’ organisations in order to secure a longer term, sustainable position as an asset to the local community.”
Exeter City came ﬁrst in the index because they put fan engagement at the heart of what the club does. To strengthen the growing importance of supporters trusts, TUST are to join with the trusts at both Exeter and Plymouth to form an inﬂuential Devon Supporters' Group of all three clubs. In the forthcoming General Election the Conservative manifesto pledges to set up a fan led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the owners and directors’ test as well as promising to establish a £150million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local take-overs of under threat organisations or community assets, including “ local football clubs”.
Labour, meanwhile, has pledged to legislate for accredited football supporters’ trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and purchase shares when clubs change hands “.
That both the Tories and Labour include these in their manifestos underlines the need for football to be run properly and this can be done with the volunteers that make up Supporters' Trusts such as those who willingly give their free time to Torquay United’s own trust, which last season ran the highly successful Fan Zones and Match Day Ambassadors, neither of which, on orders from the club’s directors, have been seen this season.
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