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Time To Change Something

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 19/02/2007

WITH recent results and management initiatives, confidence is now building in the fans and supporters and the Conference League seems further away now than it did at the beginning of the season.

Home > Features > 2007 Features > Time To Change Something

The fans are rallying to the call for extra support at away matches with the club offering free coaches. Alan Buckley appears to have got the right formula for winning matches and the home attendances are improving.

The new stadium has passed its first hurdle with planning permission being granted and if the next stage, the government approval, is received, the project can start to take shape. Although that will be the most difficult part, the raising of funds and the acquisition of a retail partner, but it can be done.

So it would be fair to say, that things are looking good at Blundell Park and have no doubt that the fans and supporters have played a major part in this rekindling of the faith.

So why, in this period of tranquility, (if that's the word) would I be suggesting changing anything?

But there is one particular change needed.

The fans have shown that they will respond to the club's call for help as they have done many times before.

But looking to the future, I can see one area that needs addressing.

Town fans have not been brought together in any organized way, where their full support can be harnessed. Sure, we had the International Supporters Club, the Grim Exiles and the London Mariners, parts of each still exist today.

But, until the arrival of the GTFC Supporters Trust, there has been no body that really represented the fans after the demise of the Grimsby Town Supporters Club, which exists today more for providing economical travel than representation.

The problem that I see in the Trust, is that the fans cannot see the importance of it, whereas wiser fans from other clubs have supported their Trust to such an extent that today, they own the club.

I am not suggesting that the GTFC Trust does that, not in the near future, but who knows what the future holds?

But behind the scenes, the GTFC Trust is working quietly away, with the club, and is now accepted by the club as the fans representative body. It was the Trusts intervention recently that helped to get two fan's banning orders lifted. Quietly, and behind the scenes, working for the fans and supporters.

So now, we have something that we have been trying to get together for donkey's years. A truly representative body for the fans and supporters.

But if the Trust is going to be as successful as all the other Trusts in the UK, many of whom have board representation, it needs to grow. That means every fan joining it.

Remember the days when we were moaning and complaining that nobody ever listens to us? Remember when we used to complain that fans were just numbers to the club and just a source of income?

Well those days are gone. Every club nowadays now understands how important the fans are. The good clubs that is. There are still some who see fans as the opposition but they too will learn the hard way that they are wrong.

Fortunately for us, we have a chairman who is a fan first and that is an advantage.

I am not saying that the fans should be consulted before the board makes every decision. But with a strong Trust, if a decision is going to be made that affects the fans and supporters, consultation takes place first, and the Trust has a say.

Tell me whenever that happened in the past at Grimsby Town and I will tell you that you must be 110 years old. Even I cannot remember it happening.

But today, it happens. You may not know that, but it does.

So, even without your support if you are not a member, the Trust is still working for you.

Now here is the major question.

If the club are to build a new stadium, should they just get on with it without letting the fans have some involvement? Not bloody likely! The new stadium is the most important project ever proposed by GTFC and it is ridiculous to propose that the fans and supporters are not involved somewhere along the line.

But it won't be me they will be talking to. Or you, for that matter. If the club involves the fans, it will be through the only representative body we have. The GTFC Trust.

Because the fans are the Trust. Not the Trust officers. They are only the people you voted for to represent them, and they have worked hard for you.

A strong Trust, is also an asset to the club. A solid supporter base is the lifeblood of every club and the stronger the relationship becomes, the future of the club is more secure.

Usually when I write about the Trust I conclude by asking you to join. I am not going to do that this time. If you, as a true fan, cannot see how important your membership of the Trust is, and how important it is going to be in the future, I am wasting my time. I will however add a link to the Trust and you can do as you wish.

If Grimsby Town Football Club wants a strong Trust and the indications are that they do, then they too will have to help to build it and there is one simple way they can do that.

In the case of ticket only games, the season ticket holders and sponsors are served first. Then ticket stub holders.

The club should change that. Let the season ticket holders and sponsors get theirs, but next should come the Trust members on production of their membership card.

The Trust members are sponsors and shareholders. The Trust holds shares in the club and also sponsors the junior squad. They are not just fans. They are contributors to the club in addition to their gate fees and as the loyal supporters get first service, the Trust members have proof of their loyalty via their membership card.

I am not saying that others are not loyal to the club and have contributed. But there has to be a line drawn in the issue of tickets and Trust members would be easier to manage in ticketing terms.

If the club were to take up that suggestion, Grimsby Town would have a very strong supporter base they can call on, and the Trust will have a more effective voice in consultations and negotiations.

The perfect scenario for both the club and the fans and supporters.

Over to you Mr. Fenty.

The Grimsby Town Supporters Trust can be contacted at HERE

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