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Fan Power - The Future!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 14/04/2003

Now that the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust has been formed and the board of GTFC have got the share issue they wanted, it remains now for the supporters to put their money where their mouths are.

For many years now, fans and supporters have been complaining, as fans do, that no one listens to them, no one looks after their interests and that they are just another income stream to the club.

But recent events have changed all that.

With the formation of the trust, fans now have a voice and a truly representative body that can be effective in bringing about the changes fans feel are needed.

With the share issue, there is an opportunity for fans to gain equity in the club they support which effectively gives them a say in the running of the club and the power to elect or sack board members.

These two recent events have gone some way to creating "Fan Power" at Grimsby Town.

What a pity if both these events are ignored and supporters do no more than shrug their shoulders.

There has always been, at Grimsby Town, those who form the 'Apathy Brigade'. You can see these people in the pubs, clubs and workplaces who have all the answers to the problems facing us but are resigned to sitting in their armchairs watching premiership football. These are the people who have 1001 excuses as to why they do not support the club. The deadwood!

(These people are not to be confused with those who are suffering hard times and cannot afford to go to games but are still totally committed to the club)

On the other hand, Grimsby has a small but committed group who turn out for almost every game in support of the Mariners. It is that 4,000 - 5,000 supporters who are keeping the club alive and ensuring the future of the Mariners. Without them, the club would have been long gone!

It is an arduous task to regain support that has been lost but it is not impossible.

What is needed is something that will motivate these people to return and that will require positive action.

With what appears to be the ending of the factional differences between the various ex board members, the club has been authorised to issue the shares held in limbo allowing the fans and supporters to hold some equity in the club. That is a positive move forward!

The creation of the trust indicates that the fans are also prepared to do something for themselves and the trust, once firmly established, will represent the fans in an organised and therefore effective way. It will take time but eventually Mariners fans will have what they have long been demanding. Representation on the board, and a say in the running of the club.

These are early days yet, but if the fans and supporters get behind the trust, they will be able, for the first time in the history of this club, to exercise their 'fan power'. That can only be seen as a positive step forward.

Working together, through the trust, fans can start the process of change at Grimsby Town. It will not be easy, but it is essential that the fans and supporters initiate the changes.

There needs to be a change of culture both within the club and the supporters. There can be no better time than now, with the future of the club's position in the first division hanging in the balance.

But whatever division the Mariners are playing in next season, the club will go on. So each fan must decide if they want to be a real part of the club, or do they want to sit on the sidelines professing their support but doing nothing!

It is no good sitting there and letting someone else do it for you. Each and every fan has to take their part in the change for the future and the most appropriate action they can take right now is to join the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust and, if personal finances allow it, purchase a few shares.

The world of football is changing rapidly mainly due to the failure of the ITV Digital deal and the subsequent financial impact. TV revenues are falling with TV companies no longer willing or able to pay enormous amounts of money for rights. Therefore the Football Association and the Football League are concerned about the future structure of the game.

Changes are inevitable and those changes will include the role of fans and supporters, with the government recognising their right to be increasingly involved in the future of the game. The recent "Fans Parliament" meeting and the proposal of a "Fans Charter" are indications of the move to more supporter involvement.

A great number of clubs who have supporters' trusts are already playing their part by gaining board representation and, in some cases, actually owning the club. Now that may be a long way away for Grimsby Town, but those clubs whose supporters have organised themselves, will gain the benefits of change and supporters of many other clubs have recognised that and are currently forming their own supporters trusts.

Grimsby Town now has its supporters trust which is a significant demonstration of the fans commitment to the future success of the club.

But the time has now arrived for the fans and supporters to demonstrate their commitment to the future success of the trust! It is working on your behalf.

So make a very positive step today by joining it!!

Click here to download a membership application form in Word format.

Ed.The Fishy takes paid advertising on the GTST website, contributes to the Trust's fundraising activities and will be taking up corporate membership.

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