Supporters’ Trusts – Giving fans a voice

CAS Trust member and former Valley pitch-announcer Dave Lockwood, shares this thoughts on Charlton's recent troubles and the importance of Supporters' Trusts in football.

It seems the perfect storm has hit Charlton. Relegation to the third tier of English football, an absent owner ambivalent to the fate of his English acquisition coupled with local rivals moving to a brand new ground only a few miles from the Valley. It seems the Gods of football really have it in for us.

It’s fair to say that the vast majority of Charlton fans accept that things are far from perfect with Charlton Athletic FC; admittedly some have stronger feelings than others. The growth of discontent from an initial post on Charlton Life asking the club to spell out their ambitions to the mass protests and gleeful destruction of part of that sofa at the last home game of the season proved, beyond doubt, that many were correct to worry about the intentions of Roland Duchâtelet after his takeover in 2013. Only now are we truly seeing the repercussions of his ownership. I fear we have a lot more to find out.

As fans we need representation. We used to have that in the form of the supporters' club and its many branches, one of which I’m proud to have played my part in founding. Now, though, times have changed: the supporters club and its many branches are no more, a victim of the clubs successes in the early part of this century. After all, we thought, what could go wrong? We’d done it, reached the Premier League and grown our club to filling out the Valley week in week out. We got complacent. Attempts were made to form a Trust, but why did we need one, surely not Charlton of all clubs? We’d elected successive fans to the board and we all worked in unity. If only we knew.

After the sale of the club to the Jimenez consortium, louder alarm bells should have rung when the rumours of financial troubles started emerging after that wonderful title winning season. Thankfully a few fans managed to keep on track and a Trust was born.

CAS Trust ensures our voice is heard, whether or not the club likes it: they represent all of us. Their work collectively with other trusts uncovered the dirty double dealing behind the Olympic Stadium conversion and showed how West Ham are going to be financially boosted by their occupation of the former Olympic site. They represent us at a national level, highlighting the issues we know so well. Our Trust represents us on the Fans Forum; OK, we all know it’s not making any difference but it ensures there is dialogue, if only one way, and that our views are heard if not heeded.

I’m sure that the Trust will have pointed out the ludicrous decision to impose charges on ticket purchases for walk up fans, at a time when West Ham can offer Premier League football at an affordable price only a few miles away.

That’s why I rejoined the Trust in May of this year and why I encourage every single Charlton fan to do so. When the current regime are gone, and yes. one day it will happen, the new owner(s) will need to see and hear a united front from us and the Trust gives us that representation. The more of us that are behind it, the more our voice is heard and the more weight we have. If you do anything this season, join the Trust. It will be the best £5 you spend all year.