As the only elected body representing fans, the board of Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) welcomed the invitation to take up a permanent position on the Fans Forum organised by Newcastle United.
The Trust looked forward to the chance to interact with club officials on behalf of our members, with the opportunity to ask pertinent questions and report back to the membership afterwards.
The inaugural meeting of the Forum took place in September and little were we to suspect that the NUST permanent position would last only one night.
The Trust made clear that we reserved the right to report back to our members as to what went on at the Fans Forum, the club confirming via their Fans Liaison Officer that they accepted this.
Questions were duly asked (many supplied by our members following an online survey) at the Forum by the NUST representative, Peter Fanning, and a lively meeting produced many interesting topics of discussion.
Two days later, NUST published Peter Fanning’s overview of the meeting and it attracted a lot of publicity, due mainly to the nature of the topics covered but also the fact the Newcastle United minutes didn’t appear until 24 hours after they’d been advertised to be released.
When the club minutes did belatedly appear, nothing of substance that had been reported by NUST was contradicted in Newcastle United’s official feedback.
However, the spirit of openness has dramatically ended and NUST have been informed by Newcastle United that their ‘permanent’ place at the Fans Forum has now been withdrawn, the only democratically elected organisation open to the whole of the NUFC fanbase, barred from attending the next meeting in December and all subsequent Fan Forums.
So, in the same week that the Trust organised a successful conference on fan engagement at Newcastle University Business School, covered by the BBC and attended by delegates from all over the country, the club have barred the local press and the only elected fans’ body from interacting with Newcastle United.
At the same time at a national level, the Government’s Culture Media and Sports Select Committee have recommended that football clubs develop meaningful and structured relationships with supporters.
They say the first casualty of war is the truth. The fans and local media don’t want to be at war with our football club, we just want a well run Newcastle United that values all of its supporters and the integral part NUFC plays at the heart of the local community.
ABOUT NEWCASTLE UNITED SUPPORTERS’ TRUST
Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust (NUST) is a legally constituted, democratic, not-for-profit supporters’ trust. The Trust seeks to benefit both the football club and its supporters by channelling the passion of Newcastle supporters into a forward-thinking organisation. NUST membership is open to all fans of Newcastle United and is totally independent of Newcastle United Football Club. NUST is a non-profit making organisation and board members do not gain financially from their involvement in the Trust. NUST is not a protest group but seeks to develop formal links between supporters and the Club and to be a positive influence on supporter issues in the Club and to work with supporters to buy a stake in the Club. Further information about this press release is available from firstname.lastname@example.org