Join the NUFC Trust

The Trust exists to provide a way for the fans to get their voices heard by Newcastle United FC. We’re not a protest group, we want to develop formal links between supporters and the Club and to be a positive influence on supporter issues.

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NATIONAL FANS FOODBANK CONFERENCE

Following the first annual Fans Supporting Foodbanks conference arranged by the Football Supporters Federation in Newcastle last year, it was the turn of Merseyside based Supporter Foodbanks, a combination of Everton’s Blue Union and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly, to host this year’s conference in the grand setting of St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Given our involvement in NUFC Fans Foodbanks NUST representative Colin Whittle attended the event with Bill Corcoran.

Hosted by Ian Byrne from Spirit of Shankly and Dave Kelly from Blue Union the day began with a passionate introduction from Liverpool Councillor Jane Corbett who we knew from her visit to last year’s conference in Newcastle. She was followed by a number of speakers talking about local initiatives being supported by fans and the background behind those initiatives. It was clear from the many passionate speeches made that there has been a ‘major buy in’ from the local community –supporters working together for the benefit of their communities.

Liverpool Chief Executive Peter Moore and former player Jamie Carragher both spoke well-it was pleasing to see a high profile ex player have a part to play- as did Red Neighbours representative Forbes Duff and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Chester MP Chris Matheson. Donna Scully from Solicitors Carpenters also spoke about her own firm’s involvement.

The afternoon session involved fan representatives speaking about fan initiatives at their own clubs. Contributions from Celtic, Huddersfield, Merseyside, Sunderland and our own Bill Corcoran, speaking with his usual passion about NUFC Fans Foodbank, were just some of the contributions to the afternoon session.

A well organised conference-our hosts continue to be a source of inspiration no doubt about that, and a lot to learn about other fan group’s initiatives, it’s just a shame that Foodbanks are necessary in this day and age.

What the conference demonstrated more than anything was the power of football fans working together and the overall power for good we can bring to our local communities. An undoubted positive force after years of unjust criticism in certain quarters.

To finish the day off and as a gesture of thanks NUFC Fans Foodbank contributed to our hosts a framed Fans Foodbank poster signed by Rafa.

There was plenty of time to reflect on what had been a thoughtful and inspirational day during the train journey back home, but speaking from the NUST perspective we’d like to thank every single person who has contributed in any way to our own NUFC Fans Foodbank……magnificent support for those in need within our own community.

NUST

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Sports Direct AGM 2018

I don’t spend a lot of time at AGMs; in fact, the Sports Direct version held in a partly finished floor space at Academy House today was my first. I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain they usually last more than 15 minutes for large scale businesses such as this.

However, after the cursory/derisory amount of time allocated to the meeting, and Ashley’s appearance after saying he was too busy, the most striking aspect of the non-event was the complete absence of a Q&A session involving shareholders in the audience (not to mention the sprinkling of Mags in attendance) questioning the board of directors.

The ‘meeting’ was chaired by Keith Hellawell, who has previously relied on Ashley’s intervention as Chief Executive and majority shareholder to retain his position as Chairman following shareholder unrest. After Hellawell confirmed his and non-executive director Simon Bentley’s resignations, he covered some admin points before giving some guidance on the polling card, which contained the 18 Resolutions that were to be voted upon. Questions were invited from shareholders/proxies, but specifically regarding the 18 Resolutions only. When there were no takers, the board hastily relocated to a nearby meeting room, one making a glib comment about getting to the pub early.

With people unclear whether the meeting was over or briefly adjourned, the room started to empty. There was no ‘any other business’ or opportunity for an open forum Q&A session. As far as I could see, there wasn’t even a printed agenda, only a few rows of plastic seats on a bare concrete floor. I asked both a reporter and a shareholder whether I was wrong to expect a Q&A, and both confirmed that it is normal practice to include this in an AGM.

While Q&A sessions are not a compulsory element of any AGM, they are seen as an ideal opportunity to engage with shareholders and let them have their say. Indeed the ICSA (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators), who ‘champion good governance practices’, identify the Q&A as one of the main reasons shareholders attend an AGM. It is also seen as an opportunity for good ‘PR’ in front of the media.

Given the current climate of shareholder unrest, including advisory groups advocating voting against Ashley and Hellawell, this should have given the board some much needed face time with their investors. It raises further questions about the corporate governance of Sports Direct, which is at the top of the list of current shareholder concerns, along with a falling share price, the reported £5million payment to his daughter’s boyfriend, and the House of Fraser buyout.

There were no presentations, speeches or any sort of board-shareholder engagement that (according to my research) are common practice in corporate AGMs; Ashley remained silent, with a decidedly uncomfortable look on his face. On reflection, the whole meeting came across as scripted and stage-managed, an approach with which all NUFC fans are all too familiar.

Is this just another example of ‘typical Ashley’? He is either gambling on shareholder loyalty, as he does with ours, or it is another display of outright arrogance and contempt; in my opinion, it is a mixture of both. To quote a recent headline from the national press: “The investors aren’t happy. But Mike Ashley doesn’t have to care.”   

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Fans Forum Cancelled

“The club apologised for delays in the regularity of Fans Forum meetings.   The club … hoped that supporters ………. would acknowledge how committed the club has been to communicating openly as part of the Forum.”   – extract from Fans Forum minutes 25th April 2018.

This is what the club said in April at their first meeting for over 18 months.  They’re supposed to arrange at least two meetings per year but this hadn’t been happening.  At the request of the Supporters Trust representative on the Forum they agreed to diary a programme of future meetings, the first being Tuesday 28th August.

On Monday 27th August the club sent out a message cancelling the meeting.  

This at a time when there has been considerable unrest amongst fans and huge media attention about all matters Newcastle United.  Protests and fan group meetings, disgraceful inaccurate statements being made by so called pundits and questions being asked at Government level about the ownership and management of our club.  Could there ever be a more important time for the club hierarchy to meet with fans and discuss openly their ongoing concerns?

They’ve said they are committed to communicating openly with fans.   Actions speak louder than words, however, and the Fans Forum would appear not to rank high enough in their priorities.

NUST Chairman

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TAKEOVER ARTICLE

Please see below our article published when the proposed sale fell through in 2017;

NUST are extremely disappointed to learn that the proposed takeover of NUFC has, according to media reports from ‘sources’ close to the owner ,been ‘called off’. We await to hear reports of any updates.

As we have said previously The Ashley Years have been a backward step for Newcastle fans both on and off the pitch. Two relegations, and a potential third, tell their own story. His tenure has been about mid table mediocrity, lack of ambition and a club policy that cups don’t matter because they don’t make enough money. Sadly the owner prioritises his own business interests over those of Newcastle United. 

What the Trust wants is an owner who will position the Club in the local community in a way that recognises that the fans, the City Council and the local MPs are not the enemy.  We don’t want to accept mid table mediocrity as our goal, we want our team to win trophies, to compete at the highest level and to set standards of excellence that our support deserves. 

We want owners who will engage with the fans in a meaningful way and will allow the fans voice to be heard at the highest level in a way that helps to influence Club policy.  

We feel that the Club already has the basic preconditions for success under new ownership. They are –

  • A large fan base with a regular attendance of 52,000.
  • A stadium of sufficient size and quality with the option to expand.
  • Located at the heart of the City.
  • Significant future growth opportunities are available in developing new commercial sponsorship and overseas markets.
  • Capable of maintaining the investment level needed for continuous team development.
  • History and tradition, both in Europe and at home.

Working together with our world class manager and our world class fans new owners can take the Club to the next level, and beyond.

We would therefore urge the owner to honour his commitment to sell the club, reconsider the formal bid that has been made for the club, and relieve himself of an ‘asset’ he has no desire to retain.

In the meantime we are sure fans will continue to back Rafa and the lads on the pitch.

NUST Board

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NEWCASTLE UNITED-THE COMMUNITY FOOTBALL CLUB

A reproduction of an earlier article ;
In 2015 NUST undertook a piece of work entitled ‘Whose Club is it?’ which looked at what we believed a future Newcastle United would look like. At part of this work we organised a Conference which co-incidentally took place shortly after Rafa took over- where supporter’s organisations from England and Scotland attended to discuss the topic of fan engagement and the different forms it took at their own clubs. Attendees included supporters from ‘fan owned’ clubs to those with ‘a formal seat on the Board’ .A common theme to the day was the belief that regardless of who actually owned football clubs (in the strict legal sense) they should be community owned focused representing the areas in which they were based.

 

We released our ‘Community Ownership Statement’ to coincide with the Conference which focused on what we believed any new owner should be aiming towards;
a club that will work with supporters on fans issues and will recognize their value as the long term custodians of the club, a club that will work with our MPs, the city council and local businesses to play its part in regenerating our area rather than simply bill boarding a national sports retailer,a club that will work with local football clubs and schools to develop local talent and keep that talent in the North East,a club that says we can compete, we will compete, we don’t reward mediocrity, we strive for excellence and to be the best we can be in everything we do.
This was against the backdrop of Rafa’s appointment because there’s no doubt that there has been a ‘step change’ in many areas, both on and off the field, since his appointment.
Despite relegation in 2016, the reaction of supporters showed at our final game of the season against Spurs how highly we, the supporters, rated him. We know from sources close to Rafa that he was taken aback by the response of fans at that game, which contributed, in no short measure to him deciding to stay and manage us in the Championship. For that, we will always be eternally grateful. He galvanised our support and gave back a feeling of pride to both supporters and the City itself. Instead of struggling like many relegated teams, he led the club to immediate promotion as Champions.
 

Rafa sees Newcastle United as a long term ‘project’, he ‘gets’ the club and its supporters. He knows exactly what Newcastle United means to its supporters and what a successful club would mean for the city and the wider region. He’s invited fanzines and fan groups in to talk to him about what’s important to fans, he’s reorganising the way the Academy works with a view to bringing through more of our own talent, the club are now more actively involved with local politicians and businesses and from our own perspective Newcastle United Supporters Trust has been invited back to the Fans Forum, Initiatives such as NUFC Fans Foodbank, Gallowgate/ Wor Flags and Wor Hyem have shown the positive inter-action between the club and a fan base that was becoming increasingly alienated .The club should be praised for their new approach. Closer association and promotion of the Newcastle United Women’s Football Club and adoption of the minimum wage for all staff would further cement club ties with their community. The Newcastle United Foundation who previously appeared to many to be detached from the Club are coming on leaps and bounds supporting many initiatives and programmes in our area….and wider. Their plans for the future seem to be very positive. From our perspective, we would hope that any new owner sees the positive aspect of meaningful fan engagement, recognising the great benefits that fans can play, and how Newcastle United integrated into the heart of our local community can be of mutual benefit for all concerned. Newcastle United remains, in our view, perhaps the greatest untapped football club in Europe. The possibilities are endless. We hope any new owner seizes this opportunity to work with the supporters to take the club to its full potential. NUST

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Who are we?

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is not a protest group, but a positive force for change.

We seek to benefit our football club and its supporters by channeling the passion of its loyal supporters into a forward-thinking non-profit organisation that is a legally constituted, democratic, not-for-profit Supporters Trust.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) seeks to benefit both the Football Club and its supporters by channeling the passion of Newcastle supporters into a forward-thinking organisation that is a legally constituted, democratic, not-for-profit Supporters Trust of Newcastle United.

Contact Us

PO Box 621

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE5 9AD

info@nufctrust.co.uk

@nufctrust

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