The launch of Everton Supporters trust was, in the words of Liam Fogarty, “a special day.”
Everton Supporters trust Launch Saturday 5th September
Many attempts have been made to establish a Supporter Trust for Evertonian, and while many fledgling organisations have their teething problems the hard work has been done, the determination to succeed is palpable, and the first members have been recruited.
As for supporters trusts they are democratic, accountable and Transparent. There to gives fans a voice and to remind clubs where they came from. 147 clubs have trusts affiliated to Supporter Direct and now Everton have joined that list.
Some clubs are part-owned and fully owned by their Trusts.
Simon Magner, the acting Chair of EST, stated there had been three or four attempts to set up a trust in the past 15 years.
He then provided a detailed background to the development of the trust from its origins in the FA cup ticket dispute with Arsenal, 18 months ago, when due to a lack of a trust Evertonians were excluded from discussions over the dispute.
Everton Shareholders Association then set up a forum with Supporters Direct and Andy Burnham to discuss the establishment of a trust.
At a meeting in November a decision was taken to form a trust along Supporter Direct lines. This led to Trust Everton stepping aside and dropping Trust from its name to allow a trust along SD lines be developed.
Simon thanked them for their support. The Trust is a registered Co-operative and community interest company.
There was then the long and arduous process of developing a trust through a steering group. Aims and objectives have been established as has a membership scheme.
The next steps where to develop a membership to provide the impetus for the Trust and move towards an AGM to approve the committee and aims and objectives.
He continued by stating that the trust is not a protest group, but that like the rest of the supporters trust movement believe that clubs should be run collectively by their supporters.
There then followed a question from Thomas Butler regarding the need for discipline from members and officers.
Simon re-iterated throughout that the Trust is not about individuals, but the collective and that all members will have to abide by the trusts rules.
The next question was from Mike Harden, he inquired about the trusts relationship with the club.
Simon replied that the club was cautious, but open and that club officials had been invited to the launch. Mr Harden then followed this up by stating that he wanted the Trust to work with the club on disability issues.
Simon responded by stating that the Trust desired a constructive relationship with the club and need to liaise with the club on all issues affecting the supporters. He also stated that disabled supporters are a priority for the trust and supporters direct.
Next on the agenda was Jay McKenna from the Spirit of Shankly group who provided a background to the development of their trust and the many issues that will arise as the trust develops.
The importance of building a membership, of being thick skinned and to expect a lot of criticism. The major point he gave was that clubs will only work with trusts when it suits them.
There then followed a surprising intervention from Ronnie Goodlass as he criticised Everton Shareholders association and the Fan forum for failing to hold the club to account.
In contrast to the conciliatory tones of the Chair of the trust, Ronnie words of damnation for the ESA and fans forum were electrifying.
He stated he was delighted with the trust and that it is something the club needs and that the club won’t be pulling its strings.
He urged those on the steering group and the nascent membership to get it (the EST) right.
Hearing a former player speak about the club in such a fashion led me to say to Ronnie during the break….’Bloody hell, Ronnie, you weren’t holding back!’.
The secretary and treasurer, Andy Craven, led us through the technicalities of the trust that it is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, not for profit and that it has a constitution based on the supporters direct model.
He then extended an invitation to all present to join the steering group. He also stressed that the trust needs members to aid its development and that the trust being a democratic organisation is led by its members.
Tim Short, the membership officer, then led us through the membership scheme and stressed that members will be able to elect the committee and decide upon the Trusts priorities.
All present unanimously agreed to select Health through Sport and Yellowhouse as the trusts chosen charitable causes for the next year.
Words of thanks were given to Liam Fogarty, Ronnie Goodlass and Yellowhouse for their support at the Launch.
Now for the editorial, even though the Trust is not a Board out group, by becoming a member of a supporters trust you are explicitly rejecting the idea of the private ownership of football clubs.
An independent, democratic and open organisation that will represent Evertonians is long overdue. As a member, it was indeed a special day.
Chair – Liam Fogarty
Acting chair of EST -Simon Magner
Acting Secretary and Treasurer – Andy Craven
Membership Officer – Tim Short