Trust aims for evolution, not revolution

CARL Day is looking more towards Charles Darwin than Karl Marx in his bid to get the newly launched independent Supporters Trust inside the inner sanctum at Portman Road, writes Derek Davis.

CARL Day is looking more towards Charles Darwin than Karl Marx in his bid to get the newly launched independent Supporters Trust inside the inner sanctum at Portman Road, writes Derek Davis. The acting chair of Ipswich Town 1st happily espouses the cliché 'evolution not revolution' and rather than calling 'power to the people' he urges moderation and patience in the bid to get representation on the board.

Fitting then that the working party should be kitted out in smart new polo shirts with their logo emblazoned on the front, rather than a Che Guevara T-shirt, all very conservative and non-threatening.

A bit like the meeting itself.

No one knew how many to expect at the Novotel Hotel, and the audience of 135 which appreciated the well produced video and the carefully constructed speech by Day, a Felixstowe businessman, brought a mix of pleasant surprise and disappointment among the founder members.

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It was all very civilised, just two questions at the end, and while Simon Binns' speech about Supporters Direct was amusing and made interesting points about the parlous state of football itself it showed little empathy to the Blues' situation, somewhat different to Luton or Lincoln.

Almost 300 are now signed up, a long way short of Day's ambitious target figure.

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He said: "I would love to achieve 5,000 members and with the support Ipswich has with 18,000 season ticket holders that is possible."

Perhaps the apathy is due largely to the fact that Town are now out of administration, confidence in Joe Royle and his team is high and so is optimism.

The club has also made a share issue announcement, which basically says if you spend £200, you have a say in how the club is run. Why then should supporters pay a £10 joining fee to a separate Trust and then give their say away to a group?

There will be concerns that even in the Trust the individual will not be heard if his voice is drowned out by those with different ideas.

Day said: "The Trust empowers the supporters to have a true voice within the club. We are aiming to buy a shareholding.

"Supporters will buy their own shares but alone they have a single voice, which will not be heard, whereas if they give the proxy those shares they will gain extra power and gain greater influence within the club.

"The club are open to the idea of giving us representation on the board subject to meeting certain criteria as we are the true representation of the support.

"We are not talking about taking over the club, we are just talking about getting involved in the club."

However, it is clear the Trust want representation on the board, and they have even indicated two of their members becoming directors is feasible.

But thoughts of a take-over would be worrying; it would be akin to gathering train-spotters from around the country and asking them to manage the national railway system.

As well meaning as the Trust clearly is, not one member has experience of running a football club. Bigger and better businessmen with far more money have come off the rails as the excitement of the journey and the emotional attachment sidetrack their common sense.

Day, a Felixstowe businessman who runs a logistics company specialising in wines and spirits, believes his committee, which also includes an actuary, an administrator/secretary, an NHS programme manager, a teacher, a finance expert and a fanzine editor, can benefit the Town board.

He said: "We have within the Trust a huge variety of expertise and we believe we have the calibre of people which can benefit the club.

"David Sheepshanks has said he wants the club to be the jewel in the community, and we want to get the community in the position where they can make that happen.

"The Supporters Club is a social function whereas the Trust is a non-profit co-operative where every member has a vote within the Trust, so there is no conflict.

"We are looking to take action and go forward by helping the club financially. We want to help the club through a difficult period. We are out of administration but all that has happened is the debt has been restructured over four years now. There are a lot of hurdles ahead and the club still has to be careful."

The coffers at the Trust will be swelled by a £10 membership fee and donations and this will help acquire shares for the Trust.

He said: "The membership fees will cover the costs of administration, plus we have had quite generous individual donations and we have the promise of corporate sponsorship.

"Every penny we raise we want to put into the Trust or into community projects that we wish to do."

One of the stated aims and objectives is to be the conscience of the board and protect the integrity of the club, something which rankles with the existing directors.

Day explained: "If there are serious issues that the majority of supporters share we will take that forward.

"We are looking for transparency. If there were some serious untoward things going on we would take it forward and make it public where we could. We understand there are confidentiality issues and there are certain things you can say and some you can't.

"We want to give the supporters a genuine feeling that they are part of the club."

Their plans to improve a community project which is already held up as one of the best five in the country are also questioned.

Day added: "The community programme is fantastic, probably second to none; what we want to do is enhance it in any areas the club can't reach.

"The directory will have all the unsecured creditors in it and if people need a builder, or painter or whatever the supporters can use them."

There is no doubt that this group are well intentioned and will find a place alongside the existing Supporters Club and the football club itself but just like early man they have a long way to go and could find all they are doing is reinventing the wheel and not changing the world.

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