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HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 04/07/2020



CLUBS REAP THE BENEFITS WHEN THEY COMMUNICATE WITH SUPPORTERS


Last month the national Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) published the results of a survey carried out on Premier League clubs’ season ticket refund policies.  Most clubs had begun to offer refunds for matchday tickets and pro-rata refunds to season ticket holders or have detailed mechanisms for fans to claim their money back - or donate.

So, on behalf of TUST, my survey of National League clubs - 17 contributed- shows a mixed picture ranging from done nothing - not communicating with supporters - which disappointingly includes Torquay United, to those who have offered a ‘donate or refund’ scheme.

Some clubs have innovative ideas for buying a new ST for 2020-21: Aldershot Town are including their first home FA Cup & Trophy games as ‘extras’; Boreham Wood and Woking are selling theirs for £149 - that’s £6.47 a match; Solihull Moors have a special deal available later this month, 500 season tickets at £100 + vat.

Yeovil Town, though, have gone further as those fans who donated their season ticket remainder will be invited to a special event with players, management and directors.

Pride of place goes to our neighbours Exeter City who, being owned by their supporters’ trust, have been in constant communication with fans.  And the result? Exeter supporters have voluntarily donated £60,000 to the club by way of cash donations and foregoing season ticket refunds.  As Exeter City Supporters’ Trust chairman Nick Hawker says, “ I think we recognised some years ago that you have to make supporters feel like they own the club ……as a club we make ourselves very accessible to the supporters and that really helps.”

As we have said on many occasions, TUST is here to support Torquay United in the community.


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Last week TUST chairman Michel Thomas and myself attended a meeting - via Zoom - of the Devon Supporters Trust Group, with representatives from Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle.

Discussion topics included how our clubs have coped with Covid-19; we heard how Exeter prepared for the play-offs and the costs involved - players’ testing, player wages after coming off furlough, travel and accommodation first to Colchester and then to Wembley; we heard that Colchester at St James’ Park had to use the club bar as a changing room!

The meeting, though, underlined the importance and value of the trusts of Devon’s three professional clubs working together and for each other.

Congratulations to Plymouth Argyle on their promotion to League One but no joy for Exeter City as  -the one who got away - Callum Morton ended their hopes with a ‘Man of the Match’ display in Northampton’s emphatic 4-0 Wembley play-off final win at Wembley.


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Wise words from Gary Johnson in his latest ‘Inside Plainmoor’ talk when he says that for a club to be successful directors, players and supporters all have to be on board together and believe.  He’s clearly relishing returning to pre-season training with the prospect of producing another of his promotion winning teams; he believes he has in Little, Hall, Nemane, Andrews and Whitfield quality ‘assist’ players to provide the ammunition for his new strikers - he has 2 or 3 in mind down from a list of 5 or 6.

Then in an article in Sunday’s ‘Non-League Paper’ Johnson sets out his argument for the National League to become part of the EFL either as League Three or even League Two North & South.  Despite the NL play-offs later in the month he reckons all National League clubs should be promoted!


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More tales from the Family Stand. From a hazy memory, I think it was 2007, the year we were in League Two and about to be relegated and Leeds United were in League One. Sitting behind me in the Directors’ Box were Ken Bates and his wife.

Bates, the former owner/chairman of Chelsea before selling out to Roman Abramovich, had bought a 50% stake in Leeds in 2005 before becoming sole owner.

We struck up a conversation and it emerged he was in the Bay for a weekend as they enjoyed visiting Torquay’s fine fish restaurant No. 7 on Beacon Terrace overlooking the Harbour.


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Early favourites for the 2019-20 awards from suggestions you sent in are Ben Whitfield for Player of the Year and Matt Buse as Young Player.

After a 40-year career as a manager we might have thought Neil Warnock had had enough but no, the former Torquay United manager took over at Middlesborough last week.  So this week’s fun question: how many managerial appointments - including non-league and more than once at the same club - has Warnock had?

Send your answer to: fanszone.tu@gmail.com

To all the Yellow Army stay safe.


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Nick Brodrick, TUST board member and Supporter Liaison Officer, writes a weekly column for the Herald Express under the heading "Fans' Zone". Keep an eye out for next weeks edition in the paper on Wednesday.



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