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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Why you should join Newcastle United Supporters Trust

This article was originally published on The Mag

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust has been around for ages.

It’s done good work, indifferent work and sometimes no work.

Some people don’t know what it is, others are weary because of failed fan movements that have come before us.

This is a new Newcastle United Supporters Trust with a new board in place.

We came together in January with the simple goal of rebuilding the Supporters Trust making it into a key fan organisation, untainted by the past and excited by the future.

The Supporters Trust exists to represent you.

It exists to give Newcastle United supporters a voice where they have none.

From issues such as safe standing, ticket prices, away allocations and accessibility and inclusion at St James’ Park – we are your best bet.

We work with the Football Supporters Association (now the FSA, formerly the FSF) on fan issues and our membership drives our agenda. We are a wholly democratic institution where one member is only one vote. No individual has more of a say than any other.

I didn’t join the Trust with any designs of ever joining the Trust board or leading it. Any member can stand for election and any member can join the board. It’s an organisation that belongs to you, not me or anyone else.

We have a brand new website ready very soon with log-in functionality and we will take votes on matters through that and by email.

We will be holding public meetings and doing our very best to represent our 4,000 strong (and rapidly growing) membership.

Ultimately, our aim is to own 51% of Newcastle United.

That might not be realistic in the Premier League, but then we will want to work with any new ownership in the future to give fans a say at board level in the running of their football club.

We need a vibrant, committed and huge membership to do that. So join us. We need you.

Alex Hurst (Chair of Newcastle United Supporters Trust)

To join Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) it is only £1 for a year’s membership – Go HERE

Or to become a member for life it is £10 – Go HERE

You can follow on Twitter @nufctrust and visit the website at www.nufctrust.co.uk

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What now for furious Newcastle United fans? However you feel after Rafa Benitez’s departure, this is one thing you must do

This article was originally published on ChronicleLive

In the five stages of post-Rafa Benitez grief, it feels like most Newcastle United fans are yet to get past the second stage: anger.

As Benitez prepares to leave and United continue to offer scant detail about future direction to mystified supporters, crisis is brewing. For many, irreperable damage has been done by the Benitez decision – which not only leaves Newcastle rudderless ahead of the new season but also has the more profound impact of suggesting that a manager who aspired to more has no place at St James’ Park.

In the five stages of post-Rafa Benitez grief, it feels like most Newcastle United fans are yet to get past the second stage: anger.

As Benitez prepares to leave and United continue to offer scant detail about future direction to mystified supporters, crisis is brewing. For many, irreperable damage has been done by the Benitez decision – which not only leaves Newcastle rudderless ahead of the new season but also has the more profound impact of suggesting that a manager who aspired to more has no place at St James’ Park.

Last season the explosion of online anger faciliated the creation of The Magpie Group , who made early headway by leading protests outside Sports Direct. But calls to action in the stadium – including a walk-in and a boycott, which was eventually postponed – illustrated how difficult it is to direct anger into something tangible among a huge fanbase that prides itself – quite rightly – on its loyalty.

None of this is to say that Newcastle fans aren’t feeling deeply concerned about the state of their football club, which is a prize community asset. Anger this time isn’t about not challenging for honours or the suitability of the manager, it is about something more profound: the absence of hope, communication or connection to a support that should be its greatest asset. And – considering Ashley’s lengthy rap sheet – the feeling that while he has the keys to the castle, it is not worth getting behind.

Nothing brought this home more than Wor Flags’ decision to suspend activities while Ashley remains in charge. A Benitez-inspired fan-led movement that was the envy of the Premier League has been undercut by the owner’s decision-making – wiping out the hard work of volunteers and club staff alike. It is all just so depressing.

But how do United fans channel those feelings into something more constructive? Step forward Alex Hurst, the new chair of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust.

Since Monday’s devastating announcement of Benitez’s departure, the Trust has seen membership rocket to the 4,000 mark on the back of a publicity drive to time with the popular manager’s exit. Hard work behind-the-scenes, where a new board was constituted in January, mean they have ambitious plans that can make an impact at a fairly advanced stage.

They are also, crucially, in a good place to cope with an influx of members looking for something – anything – to offer some hope.

Hurst – who was one of the founding members of Wor Flags in its previous iteration as Gallowgate Flags – explains: “We’ve seen the different protest movements over the years and I’d never criticise anyone for doing anything they think can help the football club but I think people are looking for something different right now.

“The Rafa news has given us a bit of extra impetus. We had around 500 members when I first took over in January and that had gone up to 1,000 before Monday but we’re now nearing 4,000. For the Trust, it’s about strength in numbers as it gives us more authority to speak on behalf of those Trust members. We don’t say we are speaking on behalf of all Newcastle fans, but we can speak on behalf of the Trust and if that means more Newcastle fans then all the better.”

Trust membership has been cut to £1 and, as Hurst points out, they are the only democratically elected fan group who are recognised by both the Premier League and the club, who have to seek dialogue with them as part of the top flight constitution.

They have spoken out about club issues – a strident statement on Benitez’s departure arrived on Tuesday – and have plans to make an impact in the coming weeks. But it’s in a different vein from the Magpie Group or calls to boycott the Arsenal game in protest. They can get in front of Lee Charnley at the Fans Forum, for example, and try to seek answers about what is going on.

“The aim is to one day own 51% in Newcastle United. Is that realistic any time soon in the Premier League? Maybe not. But we would like the club to change ownership and work with a new owner to have fan representation on the board,” he says.

“We have a relationship with the club. Does that mean we support all of their decisions? No I’m personally gutted the manager has left and the club finds itself where it does. But the club have been positive with us since Janauary in terms of communication and wanting our help on areas that affect the club.”

For fed-up fans, the long game might seem pointless right now. But the bigger the organisation grows, the more fans are represented by it and the more skilled up members join, the more impact it can have. 

Plans to work with possible consortiums looking to take the club over are being considered while there is one major project set to be announced in a matter of weeks.

For those worried about how it is run, the £1 ownership fee buys one vote. This correspondent has joined and can vouch for many on the reconsistuted board. Elections in October can change the board; the accounts will be independently audited. There is no better way of making your voice heard.

“The aim is to get to 10,000 members before the start of the season,” Hurst says. “We believe in a successful, open Newcastle United where fans can play their part.” In weeks like this, surely it isn’t asking too much to support that aim?

Anyone who wants to join the NUST can do so here .

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Premier League Supporters Meeting 2019

Last week, the Premier League met with fan groups from its member clubs at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel in London. I was lucky enough to represent the Newcastle United Supporters Trust at this event and can provide mostly positive feedback from my experience. I’ve had better coffee, mind.

The meeting started with a discussion on the progress of implementing a video assistant referee (VAR) system in top-flight matches. While the Premier League has already decided that VAR will be in use from the start of next season, its director of policy Bill Bush explained that the reasoning behind not introducing it sooner, i.e. this season following its use at the World Cup, was that the division wanted more “extensive” testing. Bush said that the challenge of operating VAR across multiple matches happening at the same time – he highlighted that this challenge did not exist to the same degree at the World Cup – would require some “fine tuning”. On Saturdays, the Premier League’s busiest day for fixtures, Bush noted that “clear standards” would have to be in place so as not to use VAR “excessively” and disrupt the flow from kick-off through to full-time too much. Essentially, he suggested, that stoppages for the sake of stoppages were to be avoided.

While the consensus of the fan groups present on the day was in favour of VAR, some consideration was given to whether the technology would cause a distinction between the experience for fans watching the match on TV versus those in the stadium. Bush said that the Premier League were taking this into account and drafting legislation which would possibly require VAR decisions to be explained, in detail, over a PA system.

The conversation in Marylebone then took a political turn, moving onto the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. The Premier League, which is the workplace for many high-earning and highly taxed EU nationals, is apparently in the process of floating a “football-specific” immigration policy to the Home Office. The sentiment from fans around the table on the day was that foreign players had enhanced the league, and therefore the league should do what it can to maintain access to the best footballing talent in the world, irrespective of nationality.

Structured dialogue, i.e. regular meetings between fan groups and senior members of their clubs’ staff, was also on the agenda. The Premier League is reviewing its policy on the regularity with which clubs are mandated to “brief” fans on club-related news. There is also some talk of making forum events have “at least one director present”. The Premier League would like to see supporter liaison roles elevated in their importance.

It was at this point I suggested that the director attendance stipulation should be extended to owners. Bush responded that this would be at the individual owner’s discretion, but acknowledged the “concerns of certain clubs”. I highlighted that Newcastle had previously delayed and cancelled forum meetings. Bush suggested that the league would look into punishing clubs which did not fulfil their responsibilities in fan engagement.

Safe standing was also discussed on the day. All fan groups represented were in favour of this being introduced. Bush explained that, as with VAR, it is a case of carrying out the necessary checks before committing to something. The safety reviews are ongoing and will require external, government-level support from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS).

On fan behaviour and recent pitch incursions, Bush made it clear that the Premier League is “against collective punishment” and would rather focus on individual bans and sanctions. Relating to the scenes during out 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, fellow Newcastle fan and chief executive of the United Football Supporters’ Organisation Kevin Miles noted the need “for a distinction between enthusiasm for a last-minute goal and a genuine intent to do harm”. Bush agreed that cases should be treated on an individual basis with context taken into account.

Travel for away games was also discussed. Progressive ticketing policies are being floated by the Premier League, in conjunction with DCMS, to various rail companies, including train tickets which are aligned to the fixture, rather than the intended date of travel. This would, in theory, mean that if fixtures were moved because of TV scheduling decisions, fans would at least not have to buy another ticket. There was also talk, Bush revealed, about a football supporters’ rail card, but rail companies were less receptive to this idea, as there are already many different concession arrangements in place.

I pointed out that travel for away fans, especially those of clubs far away from other clubs, was made more difficult when fixtures were re-arranged with little notice. I used Newcastle as an example, naturally, and drew attention to our 18 consecutive away fixtures on Monday nights. Bush asked whether I was sure if this was the case. Kevin Miles, as well as the representatives of several other northern clubs present, assured him that it was.

I said that I appreciated that some fixtures would become inconvenient travel situations, because of where Newcastle is, but asked whether more could be done to ensure that one-sided travelling did not persist. Newcastle fans are happy to follow their team to difficult destinations, so long as fans of other clubs are doing the same. The Liverpool and Everton delegates, in particular, were very supportive of this point. The Liverpool delegate noted that Liverpool’s mid-week or Monday night fixtures tend to be half at home and half away. He said that the same should be true of Newcastle’s.

Finally, the conversation moved onto Kick it Out’s anti-racism initiatives, particularly those aimed at making sure that grounds were more welcoming to fans from ethnic minority backgrounds. Kick it Out has produced guidance on how to report racism in the stands and is encouraging clubs to actively reach out to groups who might support them on TV but not feel comfortable attending the ground in person. The Premier League is lending its name to these initiatives and encourages fans groups to do similar work.

Overall, I’d class the meeting as a success insofar as important issues were raised and I got to say my piece about away day inconveniences. I’m encouraged by the progress made on VAR and structured dialogue. While it is unlikely Mike Ashley will turn up at the next fans forum event, it is nice to know that the Premier League agrees that these should be held more often and not unscrupulously re-arranged.

Watch Rohan discuss the meeting:

Rohan discusses the Premier League Supporters Meeting

You can also view the minutes posted by the Football Supporters Federation (FSF):

http://www.fsf.org.uk/assets/Downloads/News/2019/PL-supporters-meeting-march-2019.pdf

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International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day let’s hear from one of NUST’s newest Board members, Linda Bush on why she joined the Board, and why International Women’s Day is as relevant as ever.

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Premier League agrees to continue £30 away tickets cap

The Trust are delighted to hear the news that Premier League clubs have agreed to continue the £30 away tickets cap today having worked alongside other supporters Trusts and the Premier League on the campaign for cheaper away tickets.

Away fans are an integral part of any match day, the effort, time and commitment away fans show supporting their team often hundreds of miles away is again being listened to.

The cap of £30 was originally introduced in 2017/17 season and we hope away fan attendances will remain at the high levels seen in recent years.

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Minutes of Annual General Meeting

Minutes of Annual General Meeting, 6.00pm 30th January 2019. Held at Lit and Phil, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Border Members Present: Peter Fanning (Chair), Alex Hurst (AH), Colin Whittle (CW), Anthony Armstrong (AA), Simon Campbell (SC), Michael Carling (MC), Chris Johnson (CJ), Paul Brown King (PBK),

PF opened the AGM and thanked members for their attendance. He informed members that he was stepping down from the role of Chair following the AGM, with the role to be taken up by AH.

1.0 Apologies

Apologies were received from Board members Norman Watson (NW), Mal Mclean (MMc) and Wallace Wilson (WW).

2.0 Chairman’s report

PF presented his report on the activities of the trust over the past 12 months and in particular concentrated upon NUST involvement with the Magpie Group/FSF and Supporters Direct and their merger/relationship with the club and the Fans Forum/ NUST proposed rule change /relationship with NUFC Fan Foodbank /relationship with NUFC Foundation.

Kevin Miles (CEO of FSF) was invited to explain to members the details of the FSF/Supporters Direct merger and provided details of the organisation and the services the FSF provides to fans on a wide range of supporter issues.

CW outlined the continued involvement of NUST in relation to the NUFC Fans Foodbank initiative which was now into its second year. Collections continued on a match day and were complemented by a number of funding initiatives through the year.

AH was introduced to members as the incoming Chair and talked to members about potential plans he hoped to introduce following his appointment as Chair.

3.0 Treasurer’s report

CW outlined the NUST accounts, and confirmed the financial position of the Trust.

4.0 Re-appointment of auditors

PF addressed the members and proposed that S.M Lowery, who had audited the Trust accounts for some years, be re-appointed. The proposal was approved.

5.0 Amendment to Rules

CW outlined to members the history of the NUST rules and how they were ‘model rules’ agreed by Supporters Direct with the FCA and adopted by Supporters Trusts incl NUST. The rules had been subsequently updated following a change in legislation and a revised set to be adopted by Supporters Trusts had been agreed between the FCA and Supporters Direct. A copy of the revised rules were distributed to members highlighting the changes, together with an explanatory note prepared by NW. The proposal to adopt the new revised set of Rules was approved.

6.0 Any Other Business

PF invited members to raise any other business. No matters were raised.

Peter Fanning

Chair

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Notice of Annual General Meeting

Newcastle United Supporters Society Limited
Registration Number: 30721R

When:
6.00pm, 30th January 2019

Where:
The Lit and Phil Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

Trust board members:
Chairman; Peter Fanning, Norman Watson, Alex Hurst, Simon Campbell, Michael Carling, Anthony Armstrong, Mal McLean, Paul Brown-King, Colin Whittle, Chris Johnson.

Agenda:
Apologies
Chair’s report
Treasurer’s report
Re-appointment of Auditors
Amendments to Rules
Any other business

The Annual General Meeting is open to all shareholding members* of the Newcastle United Supporters Society Limited (trading as Newcastle United Supporters Trust).

Proof of identity is provided prior to entrance.

*Must be aged 16 or over, and a paid up to date member.

NUST Board

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THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN!

In another of a series of articles from NUST members, Phil Hornsby sets out his views on the current situation at NUFC.

These are difficult times being a Newcastle United Supporter. I have supported the club for over 40 years and in my view what as a supporter group we are facing at present, compares equally unfavourably with any of the low times in my past experience.

However, we have always found a way forward and I believe we are now doing so again.

I saw my first Newcastle United Game on the 20th March 1970, a 3-1 win against Stoke. However, it was not until the second half of the 1976/77 Season that I started going regularly. We finished 5th and qualified for Europe. The following season we were relegated. Sounds familiar!

My time of supporting Newcastle I will divide into 3 distinct periods:

1977-1990: The club was run by a board of directors who consisted of local businessmen and solicitors whose positions were largely inherited having been passed onto them by their fathers. The chairmen over this period of time were Lord Westwood, Bob Rutherford, Stan Seymour Jnr and Gordon McKeag.

1990-2007: Hall/ Shepherd era

2007-the not too distant future: Mike Ashley

I am going to reflect on these three periods of time and discuss how Newcastle United’s evolution since 1977 within the context of the changes in football and society, mean that as a supporter group and as part of the Magpie Group, I believe we can be confident of being part of the catalyst for effective change in how our club is run.

1977-1990: Lord Westwood et al

There are clear parallels to be drawn with the current situation. The Ashley era is increasingly becoming a painful reminder to supporters of my generation of what supporting Newcastle was like for those first thirteen years.

On the field, the team suffered two relegations. Much of the time was spent meandering in the old second division, going nowhere. Of course there were false dawns, the biggest of which was the two seasons when Kevin Keegan played for the team and led us to promotion. This opportunity was squandered with the manager, Arthur Cox leaving before we kicked off back in the First Division after a dispute with the board about his contract.

We had 3 outstanding players around which a successful team could have been built: Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne. All were sold and not adequately replaced.

The quality of managers, Arthur Cox aside were middling to poor.

Supporters today complain, rightly, about the neglect at the ground. However St James Park like many other grounds at this time, was a disgrace. Stories about the state of the toilets in the Gallowgate End told by those of us who experienced them are the stuff of legends, but true!  The old Leazes End was demolished and replaced by a high wall with a bit of terracing in front. This was because after the planned redevelopment started the money ran out. Following the Bradford City Fire, priority had to be given to demolishing and rebuilding the West Stand, which became the Milburn Stand. Those of us who sat in that old West Stand can only think there but for the grace of God, goodness knows what those enforcing modern day fire regulations would have made of it.

In summary this was a time of austerity and lack of ambition. Like today, supporters knew the potential that existed and were frustrated by the direction the board of directors took the club in. These were local men who undoubtedly supported the team. However, they had largely inherited their positions at the club. To coin a phrase, Newcastle United was “The Family Silver” and maintaining their control was more important than meeting the aspirations of supporters and they were unwilling to sanction the investment required to make us competitive in the First Division.

However, supporters were unable or unwilling to ever effectively take any positive action due to the difficulties in communication as compared to the present day, and a stoical attitude of acceptance. Speaking personally, it is a desire not to allow the club to regress to this type of situation for the long term again which is a significant motivation now.

1990-2007: John Hall/ Freddy Shepherd Era

The original Magpie Group led by John Hall and Freddy Shepherd understood the potential and had the financial resources to tempt stubborn but greedy men to part with their shares and sell their inheritance.

The achievements of our football team over this period are well known. Although there were disappointing times under the managerial reigns of Dalglish, Gullitt, Souness and Roeder ( although we did reach the FA Cup Final twice), it is the periods when the team was under the guidance of Keegan and Robson that are best remembered; we competed at the business end of the Premier League and European Football was a regularity.

Although there is controversy about their legacy and their stewardship, of course they sold up to Mike Ashley making a huge amount of money, it is the positive aspects of their legacy I am focusing on this article.

This was the time when the club realised its potential both on and off the field. Aside from the achievements of the team, sell out crowds became commonplace, commercial revenues were a significant source of income and we now have a stadium of which we can be proud, “ The cathedral on the hill”. Whether we like it or not, this coincided with Sky televising the Premier League and the exposure they provided significantly increased our profile.

The memory of this period I view as being very significant in the perception of our club today and why to quote Oliver Holt , he regards us as “ a top six club”. It is still relatively recent and a very significant driver in our efforts at this time.

2007-Present Day: Mike Ashley

I do not need to chronicle the misery of this period, other than to say it is increasingly becoming a mirror of my earlier years supporting the club.

The Times are a Changin!

Times have changed and this is the reason why I believe we can be optimistic. The world is a smaller place. Between 1977 and 1990, the travails of Newcastle United were of little interest to the national media, who being based in London and Manchester focused on the fortunes of the clubs in those regions. The misery of the Newcastle supporters were of little consequence.

Up until Rafa Benitez became our manager, I think it would be fair to describe the attitude of the vast majority of Newcastle Supporters, including myself under the Ashley Regime as again having become stoical. We accepted the indignities inflicted upon us with little protest other than a shrug of the shoulders and looking forward to the next false dawn.

Rafa aware of the recent history of the club knew its potential, has reawakened the club with all parts connected apart the owner. Links have been re-established in the community and in some cases expanded.

Rafa has been the catalyst but what else has happened. Social Media now exists at a level enabling much easier communication. This has been fully utilised by ourselves in coming together to work towards effective change. John Gibson once described trying to organise Newcastle Supporters as like “trying to herd cats!” I think we have put this one to bed.

Our efforts have been recognised in both the local but more importantly the national media.  We have had Ian Wright on BBC 5 Live and Jake Humphries on BT Sport not holding back in their criticism of the regime. Sky seems to be taking a more balanced approach with contributions from Steve Howey, Jamie Carragher and the Custis Brothers. ( I do wonder if this reflects a change in attitude, so instead of broadcasting cushy interviews between Ashley and Craigy, they are now distinctly unimpressed that given the large sums of money the club have received from Sky, this has not been reflected in investment in the team, and consequently the televised product has been diminished).

Apart from the excellent reporting of George Caulkin, Luke Edwards, Mark Douglas and other local Journalists we have support from influential national journalists such as Henry Winter, Oliver Holt and David Conn.

I must mention the contributions of Dennis Wise, Richard Keys and Andy Gray amongst others. I have enjoyed listening to their opinions. Why? It reflects how out of touch Ashley is that he chooses to uses these type of discredited individuals to argue his case. The saying, “When you are in a hole stop digging” could not be more appropriate. Their utterings only add strength to our cause.  

Newcastle is now recognised nationally as a vibrant thriving city whose profile has significantly grown. Our football club is an institution within the city whose progress at the start of the century reflected the development that was taking place making Newcastle a very significant social, cultural and economic centre. Ashley’s lack of respect for the club is seen increasingly at national level as an insult to the city.

We are winning the argument and as our situation is now becoming one increasingly discussed in the national media, this in turn is increasing the focus on Sports Direct, and the unethical way he runs this business. Ashley’s discomfort must be increasing daily.

If we continue our efforts the pressure from all sources on him will continue to increase and he will sell eventually. We can only hope the damage inflicted beforehand is minimised.

We have momentum, let’s keep it going!


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TF Forum: Watch Now

NUST were delighted to be able to contrbute to the recent TF forum.Listen to representatives from Spirit of Shankly and Sons of Struth, as well as author David Conn. and local journalists talk about the situation at Newcastle United.

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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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