Friday, 15 February 2013

The Trust is a must!

The Trust is a must!
When a group of Chelsea supporters met up to discuss setting up an official Chelsea Supporters Trust last year, none of them could have envisaged the chaotic scenes at the inaugural meeting of the Trust held at the CIU Club in Fulham on Saturday 9th February.
The last public meeting held after the 9 man loss to Man Utd in October attracted a mix of about 40 curious supporters and the committed hard core. This time, the venue for the meeting was already full to bursting with around 150 supporters a good 30 minutes before the meeting was due to start. Furthermore, another 200-300 were queuing outside unable to get in.

Chelsea Supporters pack out the CIU Club for the CST launch
The Chelsea Supporters Trust clearly underestimated the depth of feeling among Chelsea supporters and their passion to try and change things. Chelsea supporters have never been shy of putting an opinion forward; the terraces of days gone by were never a place for shrinking violets. It seemed weirdly appropriate therefore that the atmosphere in the packed bar was highly charged.
There is definitely a sense that the supporters are being ignored and feel alienated by the club, and this frustration is manifesting in resentful anger. There is clearly a huge need to back and support a democratic and credibly run organisation dedicated to representing the supporter’s voice in England and the rest of the world to the club, which is exactly what the Chelsea Supporters Trust has set out to do!

One of the Supporters favourite former players – Kerry Dixon – was invited as the special guest. His ability to relate to the supporters who cast him in their own image is well known.

Kerry Dixon backing the Chelsea Supporters Trust

He was quick to lend his support to the new Trust, saying how impressed he was that Chelsea supporters who are clearly so passionate about the club they love are trying to do something positive for it. Interestingly Kerry also made his support for Roman Abramovich and all he has done for the Club very clear. This point was widely appreciated and applauded by the crowd.
Tim Rolls
Tim Rolls and Cliff Auger, two members of the Working Group which has been working hard to set up the Trust and steer it through its early stages, addressed the crowd explaining that the aims of the Trust are simple: to represent all Chelsea supporters all over the world, and bring their views to the attention of the Club. They also made it clear that the Trust is not about a small clique of the usual suspects deciding what issues to discuss with the club. 

Cliff Auger
The most important thing about the Trust is that it is a democratic organisation tasked with recruiting as many members as possible and will be completely independent from the Club. The first stage will be to implement a recruitment drive so that it will be representative of as wide a number of Chelsea supporters worldwide as possible. This will give legitimacy to the Trusts first elections to be held at the AGM in the summer. A Chelsea Supporters Trust board will be elected by the membership at this stage.

The Working Group will be meeting week commencing 18th February to review the launch meeting and agree the next steps working towards the AGM.  The plan going forward is to canvass the growing membership’s views on key issues associated with the Club.  A key initiative is likely to be a membership survey and the Trust is very keen to solicit membership opinion on priorities and key issues as soon as it is practical. In addition, there will be further meetings, meet and greets, and the use of on-line forums and social media. The results of this will then be presented to Chelsea FC representatives at the appropriate time.
Judging by the numbers who turned up to the inaugural meeting, the Trust has provoked a lot of interest. This has been backed up by coverage in the press such as The Mirror, Guardian, and Sabotage Times. The Chelsea Supporters Trust is also getting a lot of interest on its social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and the new website – the first port of call for members – has been widely applauded. Within a week a vast number of Individual and Affiliate members have been signed up.

Chelsea supporters making their voices heard!
Undoubtedly there is a need for things to change and for the supporters to be heard by the club. The Chelsea Supporters Trust firmly believes that the best way to achieve this is not by ‘storming the gates of Stamford Bridge’ but by engaging with the Club in a professional, measured and intelligent manner backed up by huge worldwide membership, whose views they are entrusted to represent.

Looking at the reaction at the inaugural meeting and the goodwill for the Trust so far, it is clear that they carry the hopes for many Chelsea supporters and have a huge responsibility to deliver. If the supporters are prepared to put their trust in them, then there will be a lot of work to do over the next few months to start to repay this. 

It’s been a successful (and noisy) birth, but the hard work starts now!

For more details on the Chelsea Supporters Trust:

Twitter: @ChelseaSTrust

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