Trust us, says supporters' group
'WE'RE not here to fight you, we're here to help'. That was the message from the newly-formed Ipswich Town FC Independent Supporters Trust (ITFC Ist) to the club this week.
'WE'RE not here to fight you, we're here to help'. That was the message from the newly-formed Ipswich Town FC Independent Supporters Trust (ITFC Ist) to the club this week, writes Steve Mellen.
Emerging in response to the recent financial crisis at Portman Road, the body – which will be run as a business, albeit a non-profit one – has now elected a steering committee and is inviting Town supporters to join.
Interim chairman Carl Day, a Felixstowe-based businessmen, said the primary aim of the Trust in its early days was to help ensure the survival of Ipswich Town.
"This is not a time for finger-pointing or post-mortems, it's a time to help the club move forward," he said yesterday.
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"Fans shouldn't be fooled by the fact we are out of administration because the club is still in a very, very dangerous position. There are still secured creditors to pay and all that has happened is that some of the debt has been cleared, but the rest has been restructured."
Around 700 supporters have expressed an interest in joining the group, and in the long term the newly-elected committee hope the club will allow them representation on the board, either by invitation or through acquiring enough shares. Club officials have given a cautious welcome to the idea of a Trust.
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Day, a Town fan since 1974, added: "In the past Ipswich Town was very much a community club. An element of that has been lost in the fall-out from relegation and the fact that a lot of outside influences were brought to bear when the club was in the Premiership.
"Essentially we want to provide a way for fans to be involved proactively. We will be putting money into the club, but we want to do it in a constructive way."
Any funds put into Town will be in return for a stake in the club itself, for example through the proposed share issue the club is aiming for later this year. The Trust committee has been at pains to stress that funds will not be handed over in the way which has happened at crisis-hit clubs in the past.
Also high on their list of priorities is increased transparency from the club authorities.
Day said: "One of our stated aims is to be the conscience of the board. Now is the time for helping but rest assured in the long term we will be asking questions the fans want answered.
"It's not about the personalities of the people involved or creating another talking shop. All those on the Trust committee are passionate about the club and want to help.
"Members will be given a share in the Trust on joining. There will be no more than one share per person – whoever you are – so it's truly democratic. The decisions of the Trust and the direction we take will be decided by the membership."
The committee hope to officially launch the Trust in early July, and have already set out their mission statement, which reads as follows.
* To empower and unite the supporters of Ipswich Town Football Club by providing a proactive body with real influence for the benefit of both the club and the wider community.
* To enable the views and interests of supporters to have a greater influence in the decision-making of the Club through acquiring shares and voting rights in the Club or other company that controls the Club, and through having elected and accountable representation on the board of the Club.
* To strengthen the bonds between the Club, the supporters and the community and aid communications in matters of interest.
* To be the conscience of the board and to protect the integrity of the Club.
* To support and encourage existing and future youth and community initiatives.
* To encourage the Club to compete at the highest level.
Membership fees will be set at £10 a year for adults £5 a year for under-16s. For more details contact Day at email@example.com or Philip Ham at firstname.lastname@example.org