Dear members and supporters,
As the lockdown and 'virtual football' continues, many of us are thankful that at least this streaming is regularly available. I hope this finds you all well and keeping up your spirits at this difficult time.
TUST's recent initiatives have been regularly posted via our excellent media team and TUST's Supporter Liaison Officer's weekly Fans’ Zone articles, which always aim to keep you up to date with news which might be relevant to TUFC. I am very grateful for the ongoing work that they voluntarily put in to this for us all.
Needless to say, since the onset of 2021, there has been increasing concern as to whether the future of many National League clubs, and so this season's leagues, will be able to continue to a successful conclusion. The disquiet has been augmented by the government's decision to cease the original 'Covid survival package' of grants and replace this with an offer of loans, which has not been found acceptable by numerous NL clubs, for many valid reasons. We have communicated these concerns to our local MPs as well as directly to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State.
TUST's commitment is to think about our club and to listen to members and supporters’ views, whilst also maintaining contact with the club. Furthermore, we have attended a special national FSA webinar on the future of football governance, also with a focus on the NL situation as the FSA council were holding a special meeting the next evening to decide on how they would respond. The day after, we hosted the Devon/SW Supporters Trust Group, at which we were able to share many thoughts and experiences. Then we held our monthly board meeting last Monday (summarised below). Furthermore, we have publicised the NL petition, which has been supported by a majority of NL clubs and by many supporters.
At our board meeting we discussed the suggestion made at last November's AGM to hold informal get togethers on Zoom for any interested members and exiles in particular. We propose to hold the first of these on Monday 8th March at 6:30pm. Details will follow nearer the time, we look forward to this opportunity to chat to you.
Meanwhile, to all members and supporters, hoping you stay safe and keep well, whilst wishing our club and players ongoing good health and success in maintaining the drive for a promotion and Cup double.
Michel Thomas Chairman
SUMMARY OF LATEST TUST BOARD MEETING
Partnership with Torquay United Community Sports Trust (TUCST)
We welcomed Matt Anthony, the recently appointed manager of TUCST who stated how keen he was to build on the strong partnership between TUST and TUCST.
He then gave a presentation on how TUCST proposes to use the balance of the Premier League Fans Fund (approx. £1,850) to provide ‘Stay At Home Training Packs’ for the Torquay United Inspirations group of physically or mentally disabled supporters. He explained how much the junior and adult members of TUI were missing their regular training sessions and friendly tournaments during the pandemic. The idea was to provide a training top and shorts, a ball and cones to each member so that they could train at home and follow on-line sessions. The tops would carry the TUCST and TUST logos and would provide good PR for both organisations.
The board considered the proposal to be a great idea that aligns with the requirement for the Premier League Fans Fund to be used to support community projects that promote inclusion and physical or mental health. It was unanimously agreed that the balance of PLFF money should be used for this purpose.
In addition, TUST agreed to offer TUCST a further allocation of £700 from its own community outreach funds towards the cost of providing mid-layer tops bearing the TUST logo.
National League update
Nick Brodrick updated the board on the latest position in the constantly evolving discussion about the future of the current season for the National League clubs. The most contentious issue was the government’s offer of loans rather than grants to assist member clubs. TUST had written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and local MPs requesting this decision be reversed, Nick informed the board of a petition launched by the NL asking the government to reconsider. It was suggested that this should be flagged up for TUST members to sign via a bulletin and on social media.
The 66 members of the NL were being consulted about a range of options which could see all three leagues continue or the season declared null and void for all teams or the NL continue but NL North and South ceasing.
There was much discussion about the situation and reference was made to individuals’ correspondence on the matter with local MPs, the work of the Football Supporters Association (FSA), and football journalist Ollie Bayliss’ request for details under the Freedom of Information Act.
Nick will keep members updated on progress via his Fans Zone articles.
Football Supporters Association
TUST representatives had attended a FSA webinar the previous week about the future governance of football. Trust members from a wide cross-section of the game were present but notably none from Premier League.
Key points discussed included the proposal for a fan-led review, a fit and proper person test for club owners/directors and strengthening the powers of the Asset of Community Value legislation.
Devon / SW Supporters Trust Group
Nick Brodrick summarised the meeting of the group hosted by TUST on 28th January.
It had been agreed to extend the group across the region and rename it the SW Supporters Trust Group. Founding members are TUST and the trusts of Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City, Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Hereford United.
Items discussed had included the arrangements made by clubs for the return of fans (widely praised), the financial support available to clubs at various levels of the game and the relationship between trusts and club ownership (often not fulfilling acceptable levels of engagement).
Plymouth Football Boot Bank
Rob Burkitt drew attention to this charity which had been successfully collecting unwanted boots and other kit and recycling them to those in need. It was suggested that TUCST and the Club might consider setting up a collection point when Covid restrictions ease.