Representatives of CAS Trust attended a meeting with Tom Rubashow (Head of Communications) at The Valley on Tuesday evening to look at proposals for improving the effectiveness of The Fans' Forum.
We had been surprised to see the meeting publicised on the CAFC website as an open forum since we had been under the impression that it was to be a small working party. In the event, however, it was a group of six people (four Fans' Forum members and two other supporters) which was an appropriate number for the purpose.
The Fans' Forum is the club's formal vehicle for consultation with supporters. Its membership is made up of representatives from various groups including CAS Trust, regional supporters’ groups, the disabled supporters’ association, travel groups, international fans and others.
Its aims (as outlined on the club website) are:
- To establish a forum for supporters to communicate directly with the club in a structured manner
- To help the club better understand the issues that most affect and concern its supporters
- To give the club an opportunity to explain the thinking behind key decisions
- To enable fans to play a role in helping the club achieve success
- To provide a greater degree of transparency about key issues that affect supporters
It is no secret that CAS Trust has been highly critical of the owner and senior management of CAFC over the last three years. We appreciate that there are a considerable number of supporters (including CASTrust members) who take the view that supporters should refuse all dialogue with the club until there is a change of ownership. However, we have always been clear that, as a supporters trust with a constituted purpose to be "the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between the club and its supporters is encouraged and developed" we cannot take this position. We have therefore been regular attenders and contributors to the Fans' Forum since we were founded in 2012. The obligation that the EFL has now placed on all clubs to set up "structured dialogue" with supporters at least twice a year has served to strengthen our view that this is correct.
At the February Fans' Forum meeting we were surprised when the club unveiled plans to enlarge the Fans Forum into a Supporters Council. We expressed our opposition to this proposal as follows:
We are pleased to report that the club listened to our comments and Tom Rubashow confirmed that they are no longer proposing a Supporters Council.
The purpose of the meeting on Tuesday was to float ideas rather than reach conclusions. The meeting looked at:
How could the FF be more effective?
How could it be more accountable?
How could it communicate what it does more effectively?
How could it become more diverse?
How can it ensure that it concentrates on strategic issues?
CAS Trust are committed to improving the effectiveness of the Fans' Forum and we will continue to be involved in this debate and to report on outcomes.