Board is true Blue

A FEW people have asked my view on whether a supporter should be elected to the board of directors. I always answer the same - I thought there already were supporters on the board.

By Derek Davis

A FEW people have asked my view on whether a supporter should be elected to the board of directors. I always answer the same - I thought there already were supporters on the board.

Is director Richard Moore, for example, any less of a fan because he turns up to an away game in a limo, any less of a supporter than, say Barry Miller, who goes to matches in a mini-bus?

Is Barry any less of a fan because he only bought, let us say £200 worth of shares, than Richard, whose investment was nearer £200,000?

Are you any more of an ardent fan because you have the time, flexibility and cash to go to away games than the supporters who, due to various commitments, can only go to home games?

And that is not to denigrate the travelling Town support, which quite frankly is incredible and at times I can't help but think must be slightly bonkers.

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Does a supporter who sits nervously quiet care less than one who stands throughout and bawls his head off, and is he less of a True Blue even if he is shouting nonsense?

Ipswich Town supporters come in all shapes, sizes, sexes and ages, and all have a voice should they wish to use it.

Our letters page and Radio Suffolk's phone-in are general platforms and there are various website message boards.

To make a specific point, whether it is about day-to-day administration or bigger issues, the Ipswich Town Supporters Club has the ear of the board and is regularly invited to meetings and has a close liaison with the club.

Many fans are now shareholders and are entitled to attend the AGMs and air their views from the floor, directly to the chairman and other board members.

Do individuals think if they go on the board purporting to represent the fans and demand more transparency that they will be coming out of board meetings revealing all the club's secrets?

We all, me most certainly, would like to be better informed of the goings-on - but sometimes it is not wise in business to reveal your hand.

Why let your rivals know what you are planning or exactly how much you have to buy or loan players?

The people on the board may appear distant to many, the newer ones are practically unknown to the majority of us, but they are on the board for primarily three reasons.

They are Ipswich Town fans, they have invested significantly for the good of the club and thirdly they have good brains in their own particular fields of expertise.

Sure they will have egos, but then it is not their primary reason for being on the board, which one suspects is for some other people who push themselves forward.

The Ipswich Town Supporters Trust is pushing for one of them to be a fans' representative, yet they do not represent anywhere near the majority of fans.

Their actual stake in the club is less than one per cent. They may have individuals in the Trust such as Elizabeth and Timothy Edwards who have invested considerably more, but those shares are in their own names and are not Trust shares.

That particular pair have been made associate directors, a new tier of shareholders which also includes Duncan Foster, Phillip Kerridge, John Kinder, James Wood, William Kerr (Farms Ltd) and Michael Spencer.

The latter is worth about £355m and rising and could buy the club outright if he wanted, but he is happy to let the current board do what it does.

Yes, mistakes were made but things could have been a lot bloodier and the current board, with additions such as Holly Bellingham and Kevin Beeston, are helping steer the ship in calmer waters.

Older members of the board such as chairman David Sheepshanks and the aforementioned Moore, along with Phillip Hope-Cobbold and John Kerr, have stayed to sort out the mess they found themselves in. Is that not also a sign of a true supporter, like the 18,000 who bought season tickets?

And to go back to my original point. Messrs Kerr and Hope-Cobbold may be landed gentry but that doesn't stop them supping in rough pubs in dodgy areas of far flung towns and cities, chatting with lads from all sorts of backgrounds bedecked in blue.

Supporters on the board? They are already there.

And before those critics shrug this off and imply that this paper and the club are too cosy together, believe me, that is not the case.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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