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HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 05/09/2020



START OF A NEW WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CLUB AS CROWDS RETURN IN NUMBERS FOR PILOT EVENTS


This column can exclusively reveal that last month TUST officials, Chairman Michel Thomas, Secretary Rick Williams and myself as Supporter Liaison Officer, met, via Zoom, with Dominic Mee, United’s Media & Supporter Liaison Officer, acting on behalf of the club’s directors, to re- establish a positive working relationship between the club and TUST.

We learnt that the club’s directors are keen to draw a line in the sand and look forward to all parties working together for the benefit of the club.  A number of topics were mentioned covering communications as well as the role TUST can play in promoting the club in the business and wider community and these will be discussed further as and when other regular meetings are held.  The opportunity was also taken to draw the club’s attention to some of the recent concerns that TUST members had raised.

Michel Thomas said, “ We welcome the opportunity to work with the club and contribute to its continuing growth and success.”

This is a really positive step forward, in these challenging Covid-19 times, for TUST to support the club in its journey back to the Football League.

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Within the last fortnight a new campaign ‘Sustain The Game!’ was launched by the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and is very much supported by TUST.  Supporters’ groups from across the country have joined forces with politicians and pundits calling for urgent action from the Government and all football authorities to protect the existence of clubs throughout the game at all levels.

For many clubs with still no football and crucially no income from fans paying through the turnstiles, the financial repercussions of the lockdown threaten, in particular, a host of non-league clubs, in addition to a number in the EFL.  Sutton United, as a result of lockdown, estimate they lost £200,000 income from not being able to hire out their hospitality suites, bars and 3G pitch.

The FSA, which is coordinating the campaign, says that while the current pandemic has brought many issues to an immediate head, these are long standing finance and governance matters which need to be addressed urgently.

'Sustain The Game!’ is backed by fans’ organisations from almost all of the 92 Premier League and EFL clubs along with non-league and the women’s game.

The campaign is built around five key principles, through protecting clubs as community assets; transparency - everyone has a right to know who owns their club as owners are custodians on behalf of all of us; financial controls; strengthening the pyramid with a fairer use of money divided from top to bottom and lastly, supporter engagement as fans are the lifeblood of the game so need a voice in their clubs on issues that affect them and their local communities, making the club’s new relationship with TUST timely.

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As each week goes by the Yellow Army anxiously awaits the day to be allowed back into Plainmoor. So it was heartening to view footage of the highlights of the first week’s training, interviews with some of the new players and that Gary Johnson actually sees the benefits in having only five players in a bubble, having for example all the strikers in one group; an idea for pre-seasons in the future.

It’s also encouraging that there are more pilot events for spectators to watch matches during September including Harlequins v Bath rugby, horse racing at Doncaster, Warwick and Newmarket, with cricket at the Kia Oval then at the end of the month the biggest attendance - 10,000 - at Wembley for the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals.

Now the Government has introduced a new Sport Tech Innovation Group which will consider how technology could boost crowds beyond 30%, probably at Premier League level at first.

Meanwhile football starved local fans may well have been to watch FA Cup action last night at either Newton Abbot Spurs or Buckland Athletic.

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Sport throws up an intriguing myriad of personalities and in football there are many but none more so than Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentinian, known as ‘El Loco’, who has taken Leeds United back into the Premier League after a 16 year absence.

No living the highlife in a gated mansion with smart cars as one believes Premier League managers must do for Bielsa for he lives in a rented one bedroom flat above a newsagents and walks to and from work.  Then during matches he doesn’t sit in the Elland Road dugout, he sits on …. an upturned blue bucket!

You can contact me at: fanszone.tu@gmail.com

To the Yellow Army the countdown to football returning continues - 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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