It has been almost two weeks since I was voted back in as Chair of the Swans Trust and I have to say that the two weeks have flown by in a flurry of activity not just for me but from the board at large.
One of the commitments that I made to the board when I was elected as Chair this time was that I would ensure that our communication increased – or should I say continues to increase as it has stepped up quite a bit over the past six months thanks to some excellent work from board members.
Clearly much of the focus of the Trust board at the moment is the continuation of the mediation process that kicked off back in May. It has been the advice of the legal advisors that we say little about this in the public domain at the moment, but I can assure all members that this is a big focus for us as a board and a fuller update will be provided soon. As I said I cannot give much away but there are some key dates in this process and some of these are looming large on the horizon which means that updates have to be provided as they pass, and the mediation takes the course that it needs to follow. Sorry if some of that sounds a little vague but I want to change this in the near future, just as soon as we are able to.
Elsewhere of course we have had to face up to the very relevant concerns of all fans around the club’s activity in the transfer window. We issued a statement that I hope everyone saw around this and have requested answers from the club’s majority owners which relate to the concerns being raised by everyone around the club’s finances and budgets. Whilst as an organisation we expect most accept that belts had to be tightened following relegation it does feel like we have taken that tightening too far and at the expense of the depth of the squad. It may be when these answers come back that we are not able to share them chapter and verse (due to confidentiality constraints) but I want everyone to be assured that the right questions are being asked in line with the concerns that have rightfully been raised. I would also add here that we have placed some deadlines on the owners for answers which is important to ensure that answers are forthcoming.
On the subject of the club we have also asked – through our Supporter Director – to obtain a page in the match-day programme. This is part of our aim to increase communication and whilst we wait for an answer we see no reason why the representatives of the supporters should not be granted this so watch this space. Whilst programme sales are nowhere near as high as maybe they used to be this is part of our programme to increase communications with members (and by default non-members as well) so that people get a greater understanding of what we are doing.
On another front I have been pleased to see positive feedback coming from many people renewing their memberships but also people coming back and becoming members again, maybe after a time where they have not been members. I would urge everyone who is not a member to consider becoming one particularly as I see some level of consultation process coming up and the only way to get your view counted is to actually be a member, so you have that all important vote. I do understand why people are reluctant to become members, but I hope that through communications like this and strong election statements that you will consider joining and supporting us as we try and progress as an organisation.
One of the things that we have been criticised for in the past has been Trust board members taking seats in the directors’ box on a matchday. This has been the subject of a wide discussion as a board and for now the majority (but by no means unanimous) view of the Trust board is that we should continue to take up our right to be represented. Stuart – as our Supporter Director – remains a director of the football club and should have his presence there with maybe 1 or 2 further Trust board members for support. It is up to every board member as individuals if they wish to attend when the opportunity arises, but it is important to stress that this continued presence is the majority view of the board at the moment but will be continually reviewed.
I mentioned Stuart above and I – and he – are aware of criticism over how we need to raise his profile. He is in agreement with me that this needs to happen and we will be working together to make sure that this happens. One of the things that we are looking at first is an online Q&A where he will take questions and answer them to the best of his ability. This will be a good session to undertake and whilst we won’t be aiming to hide behind ‘confidentiality’ rules I would ask people to understand that we cannot make public every little detail of the football club, the balance here is very difficult to achieve, but I hope that you see this to be a step in the right direction. In addition to the session with Stuart, there are plans for me to do one as Chair and then make these a more regular process stretching to other board members as another way of keeping members informed and having a greater understanding of the board.
Our next board meeting is scheduled for 3rd September at which I hope that we can get further clarity on the focus of the various sub groups that work within the Trust board. In particular I am excited to see some of the ideas that the communications and membership sub groups can come up with as these are both big focus areas for us.
Finally, for this update, there plans afoot to hold a member’s forum in the near future – provisionally we are looking at early September but this is a date to be confirmed but as soon as we know for certain we will let you know.
So anyway, that is the first of the regular Chairman’s Updates giving you updates on what we are working on and how things are progressing within the Trust. As ever I am keen to hear from members and non-members alike in terms of what you maybe have questions on or things you would like to hear updates about. I will reply to all e-mails just allow me some time to fit them in around all different commitments as well.
Chairman, Swansea City Supporters Trust