Grimsby Town Supporters' Trust
Clubs In Crisis
Football Supporters' Federation
Supporters' trust update
11 August 2008
Despite being widely publicised on websites, messageboards and in the local media, there was a quality rather than quantity turn-out at the Grimsby Town Supporters' Trust's open meeting at the Imperial public house on Thursday 7 August. Nevertheless, the Trust is delighted with the three people who have put themselves forward to help as a result of attending the meeting, all of whom are heavily involved in the organisation of the brilliant Bike to the Bank fundraising event and bring with them a wide variety of skills, which is exactly what the trust needs right now.
In addition, a number of people who were unable to attend the meeting have also volunteered to get involved. Given the difficulty the GTST board has had recruiting assistance over the last few years, we are consequently very pleased with the overall response to our recent request for help.
GTST vice-chair Dean Wright led the meeting, giving the attendees a potted history of the trust since its formation in 2002 and outlining who is currently involved at board level and also what the problems are, which have prompted the trust to appeal for help, lack of numbers being the main issue.
The need for the trust to remain in existence was emphasised: should another crisis occur, an organisation will already be in place to mobilise the supporters, rather than one having to be formed in haste, as is so often the case.
The work of the trust
Some people think the trust does nothing because the evidence of our work so far is not tangible. We have raised £28,000 in the last three years and purchased 22,000 shares. We could have raised half that amount and bought a minibus for the youth team with our logo plastered all over it so the fans could see solid evidence of our work. Instead we put the money where the club needed it the most at the time, at the same time making the trust one of the larger shareholders in GTFC on behalf of the supporters.
Dean emphasised that GTST is both fluid and democratic and that if the membership don't like what the board is doing on their behalf then they are entitled to stand against the incumbent board and/or vote against them at the AGM. The trust also needs to dispel the myth that we are the club's lapdog, but we won't cause trouble for trouble's sake in order to do that. We have a good relationship with the club and will look to build on that and support the club, although ultimately we represent the supporters.
The meeting then moved on to a general discussion about what needs to be done. Communications had already been identified as one of the main areas where the Trust was falling down and Jake Olley has now been appointed as trust editor. He will be responsible for the revamp of the GTST website and for improving communications through regular e-newsletters, printed publications, and so on.
Communication and the website
Communication with members will also be helped by the fact that GTST has just signed up to the In Touch with Members system. ITwM is a top-class secure membership database system and communications platform, which has been designed by supporters' trusts for supporters' trusts and is free for the first year to any trust who is a member of Supporters Direct. It will enable us to send regular e-newsletters and conduct online surveys with ease, as well as making printed communication with members much less long-winded.
In the short time since he volunteered to get involved, Jake has already begun to put together an editorial team and is recruiting guest columnists. We are also in the process of appointing a web designer and there are plans for both an online radio show and monthly GTST webcasts. Work will begin in earnest later in the month when Jake returns from holiday.
Specific issues raised on the night regarding the website were the need to have interactive tabs to online forums and network links so that everything is easy to find. Rob Sedgwick from the Fishy has offered the trust a dedicated section on the website and this has been accepted. A similar arrangement is already in place with A Grim Outlook; Nathaniel Pidgeon from Vital Football will be involved in the GTST editorial team; and we have also had offers of assistance from a couple of the chaps at Cod Almighty.
The importance of realising the potential of Buy.at was also highlighted. It has raised around £700 in the last five years with just a handful of people using it, so this could be a massive earner for the trust if we can get large numbers of people into the habit of using it.
The site should also have a web counter, so that the trust can monitor the number of visitors to www.gtst.net and react to increases or decreases in the amount of traffic.
As with the editorial team, the need to identify areas of work, appoint a lead and then divide the work up into specific tasks is essential. No one person should be responsible for a whole area of work (as is currently the case), and dividing up the work will allow people who only have a limited amount of time to commit to still help out.
Should Bike to the Bank become an annual event, the organisers are considering the possibility of next year's event being done to raise funds for the Grimsby and Lincoln trusts, assuming the two teams are still in the same division. They are also keen to help with the organisation of other fundraising events and the idea of a five-a-side tournament was put forward.
A GTST golf day had already been suggested by Jake Olley and it was agreed that this could be an excellent fundraiser and will be pursued. Unlike other golf days, we do not anticipate that entry will be restricted to those who are skilled golfers. It will be affordable and we are looking to put together a team of former Town players to represent the trust. We will also continue to hold race nights as these can be very good earners and require relatively little organisation.
It was agreed that even if people don't have the time to help with the workload or join the board, we need to encourage them to at least support our events.
The youth system
In addition to sponsoring three of the youth team for the current season (as well as youth team graduate Andy Taylor), GTST would like to organise a project to improve the facilities at Cheapside, which is an important club facility, but isn't in the best state of repair and the amenities are fairly basic. The aim would be to enlist supporters with the necessary skills and enthusiasm and encourage local businesses to supply the materials and equipment to do the job. This idea is one the GTST board had some time ago, but have not had the time to instigate.
If you were unable to attend the meeting, but would like to get involved, please drop us a line at email@example.com. We are looking for help in a variety of areas, including editorial/web contributions, advertising and sales, media/PR, administrative, event organisation and co-ordination, accounting, or just general helpers, and your involvement can be tailored to how much time you have to offer.