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Who are we?
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) seeks 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 Trust will act responsibly as a guardian of the future of Newcastle United. If the Trust believes that the Club is being run incompetently and not in the interests of the supporters the Trust will not be afraid to criticise. The Trust however, will not exist just to be critical; the Trust will also be about helping the club, tapping into the skills and expertise of its members and offering solutions.
The Trust is ran by its members. Every member is eligible to stand for election and to vote for candidates for the NUST board which will be accountable to all NUST members. The Trust is legally registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Any money raised or shares bought will belong to all members equally. The trust produces independently audited annual accounts and provides regular updates to members through meetings, newsletters, emails and website.
We now have members in 35 countries.
Read the latest news from the Trust
True Faith have announced their latest “True Faith Live” event which will be held at the Tyneside Irish Centre on Thursday 11/Oct/2018 with all proceeds from the night going to support the NUFC Fans Foodbank.
The previous events in September 2017 and February 2018 were very well organised, sold-out and a worthwhile night of debate and discussion about our beloved Newcastle United.
Our very own Colin Whittle will be attending as a speaker alongside lots of other noteworth NUFC writers.
For further information and to purchase a ticket, please click here.
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.”
“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.
Our commitment to you
a club that will work with supporters on fan issues and will recognise 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 billboarding 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.
VIDEO: Colin Whittle goes into some detail about what a supporters trust is, what Newcastle United Supporters Trust does, how we can work together to achieve our goals and make Newcastle United a better experience for all fans. Safe standing, food banks, ticket prices and more.
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