What is a “Supporters’ Trust”?
A supporters’ trust is a formal, democratic and not-for-profit organisation of fans who attempt to strengthen the influence of supporters over the running of the club they support.
We are backed by Supporters Direct and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (Community Benefit Society #7433). A CBS is a form of Co-operative that operates under a one-member one-vote principle and any changes to the rules must be approved by the members; only becoming effective once the FSA has agreed them, checking they are in keeping with the spirit of the organisation.
Why should I become a member?
The Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust is as strong as its members make it. The more of us there are, the more involved we all get and the more we offer our skills and raise our voices, then the stronger the Trust will be. We have the potential to speak on behalf of all fans, We can make a real positive difference to the future of our club.
What do you do with my £12 membership fee?
£1 of your initial members fee is held and exchanged for one ordinary share in the Trust. This means that you own part of the Trust along with your fellow members. Nobody can own more than one share and no matter how much one person donates along with their initial member fee their shareholding is no greater than anybody else.
The remainder of the money, first and foremost, goes towards modest running costs (we get as much as we can through contacts and kind donations but some things, like web hosting or postage do attract some costs).
Beyond that we’ll use funds for two things – firstly we might invest some of it into events that generate greater funds for the Trust. For example we may hire a venue to hold a fundraiser.
Everything else goes into the pot to push us towards the ultimate goal of purchasing a share in the club, if and when the opportunity arises.
What do I get for being a member?
As a member you get a few physical things, that we’ve listed out below, but more importantly you get to voice your thoughts alongside your fellow members. The very core of the trust movement is embedded in this ideology – trusts exist because of, and for, their members.
We need to hear from all members so we know what they think, our objective is to be a voice which represents the views of the widest possible fan base and so we will be consulting you. As a member you will get the chance to tell us what you think at meetings and via online surveys.
We will look to hold full board elections at the end of the current season. Any member who feels he or she has something to contribute is welcome to stand for election.
As a member you will also receive:
- A share certificate
- A regular newsletter updating on Trust activity, past and upcoming events
- Access to exclusive ‘member only’ events
- Opportunity to attend the annual AGM
- Opportunity to apply to stand for board election
Can under 18’s join the Trust?
At the moment, we are only accepting memberships from over 18’s. We will open to under 18’s in the near future, however the rules we are governed by mean that under 18’s would not receive a share, be permitted to vote in or stand in elections or attend AGMs. Despite those restrictions we are passionate about what fans in this age group can offer and it’s our hope that we can look to offer events and opportunities for debate exclusively for such a group. More on this will be released as we firm up the offer for under 18’s and hopefully provide a platform for debate amongst our younger fans as well as get our future ‘full’ members on board early!
Is it realistic to expect the Trust to be able to own shares in the club?
It’s certainly realistic, and many trusts do own shares in their club but obviously, the money in football today is vast and the opportunity to acquire shares may not arise immediately, or for some time. The opportunity to gain shares can come about through multiple scenarios, not just the ‘disaster’ scenarios from clubs like Portsmouth or Swansea.
How do I join the board?
If you are you interested in becoming a member of NFST board and think that your skills and expertise can bring ideas, passion and drive into what we are trying to achieve then we would really welcome your application.
At our Annual General Meeting we will hold elections to fill any vacancies on the Trust Board however at our inaugural AGM in later in 2017 we will be looking to elect our first full board. More information about the elections at the AGM will be posted on our website well in advance for you to put your name forward. To stand, you must first be a member.
What’s the difference between the Trust and the Supporters Club?
As a trust we do not in any way intend to take away from the fantastic work our supporters’ club and it’s various branches already do. Trusts and Supporters’ Clubs are different in both structure, legal standing and purpose.
A Supporters Club, like NFSC, is more of a social collective which might be equally concerned about the situation at the club but due to its unregulated status legally unable to buy the club or operate in the same way as a Trust.
Our Supporters’ Club still has a significant role to play, providing transport for fans, putting on fan events, lobbying the club and acting to represent supporters.
However, a trust can own shares or property, and unlike a Supporters Club it can ultimately own the club, and at the very least, own a shareholding.
We very much intend for the Trust to live alongside our existing Supporters’ Club, as a complementary organisation, both ultimately invested in the long term success of Nottingham Forest.
How will you engage with the club?
One of our primary aims is structured, positive dialogue with the club on an ongoing basis. This is something many clubs have achieved however it’s important for us to remember that no club has achieved this overnight.
Some trusts even have a place on the board of the club either as a result of that advancing dialogue with the club or as a result of the shareholding they have amassed.
What is very important is that we grow our member base so that we carry more credibility with the club and therefore increase the chances of positive engagement.
In addition to our own efforts to engage there is increasing support from government and the Football League who are both heavily in favour of clubs engaging with their supporters through their respective trusts, if one exists. Every indication from both organisations is that this pressure will be increased as efforts are redoubled to bring football ‘closer to the fans’.
Won’t you just end up as an extension of the club?
No, absolutely not. We are, and will remain, independent fans. We do not receive, and would not accept, any preferential treatment by the club. We attend games and pay for our own tickets. Our aim is to represent as broad a section of our fan-base as possible. This doesn’t mean we will oppose the club at every juncture or for the sake of it. We strongly believe in professional, courteous dialogue over protest however that does not mean we will not stand up for fans and make the views of the member base known.
We will also look to work closely with both Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation; supporting and collaborating on work across a range of issues including, but not limited to, safe standing, ticketing policies, access for fans with disabilities and stewarding.
How often does the Board meet and how much time does a Board member need to commit?
At the moment we meet ‘virtually’ every day and in person at least once per week. However, this frequency is reflective of recent events and our push to get the membership offering live. We expect to settle into a more regular meeting frequency of once per month however it is important to remember that in addition to board meetings there are regular events to be planned and attended as well as a need to be visible on match days to answer questions, canvas for new members and be ‘the face of the Trust’.
Who is on the Trust board?
Currently we have an ‘interim board’ or ‘working party’ and their main focus is getting the Trust off the ground, gaining member numbers, and preparing us for our first formal elections later in 2017. You can read about our current working party members here.
Do Board members gain financially from their positions at the Trust?
No. Board members receive no payment for their services to the board and offer their time on a voluntary basis. In addition, the rules governing Community Benefit Societies prevent any member making a profit on their shareholding; as a non-profit organisation all funds raised, through whatever means, are returned to the society for reinvestment.
How do you propose to build funds?
We expect to raise funds through a mixture of donations and fund raising events.
You can never buy the Club. What’s the point?
With the money involved in football today it is obviously only an extreme situation that would result in the Trust being able to fully own the club and, like all fans, we would much prefer the situation (administration) that would most likely lead to this outcome did not arise!
The aim is to increase the voice of supporters by continuing a collective engagement with the club and lobbying for fan consultation on relevant and pertinent issues that affect all relationships with the club. Additionally, support is growing across the political spectrum for the idea of independent and accountable directors on club boards, so it is important that we build a strong, high performing trust to ensure we are in a position to take advantage of this opportunity should it arise.
Sounds great, where do I join?
You can join by clicking here and following our simple online join up process!