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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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.”   

Cancelled

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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FANS FOODBANK

NUFC fans have been more than generous in their contributions since the setting up of NUFC Fans Foodbank at the beginning of last year. As well as match day contributions supporters have individually been looking at many weird and wonderful ways of supporting the NUFC Fans Foodbank link with WestEnd Foodbank. The latest fundraising effort includes a cross channel swim by Mark Brown.
Here’s a message from Mark;
‘Between 29/06 and 02/07 I will be having a go at swimming the Channel. Absolutely no guarantee I will make it to France, but I’m in a good position to give it a good go. I have been in the sea at Tynemouth almost every day for the last couple of months and done a few big swims over in the Lake District, so now it’s just down to the weather and conditions on the day!
It’s something I have always wanted to do but thought it would be a great opportunity to support a good local charity as well. If you have a few quid to spare for Newcastle foodbank, a charity which provides food to the many who are affected by food poverty here in the north east, it really would be greatly appreciated.’

Good luck Mark! NUST

SAFE STANDING UPDATE

As previously reported, a Parliamentary debate took place on Monday 25th June in relation to Safe Standing. It turned out to be a well-attended, interesting debate with those in attendance by and large demonstrating that they were up to speed on all of the relevant issues including one of our own, Gateshead MP and NUFC fan Ian Mearns who spoke up in favour of Safe Standing. Momentum is gathering and we await further developments.
If you missed the debate it can be watched via the link below;
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/7860c4f1-7b1e-49da-84c8-5ffe5917515f
You can read the transcript of the debate here;
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-06-25/debates/8A09C8B2-14D5-4E2D-8F3E-1D7FF3838818/FootballSafeStanding
Research on the subject can be accessed via the following link;
https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2018-0147
Finally if you want to view the petition itself which sparked off the Parliamentary debate please click on the following link
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/207040

The Government have announced that they are undertaking a review on the issue of Safe Standing and the Opposition have recently announced that they support its introduction .We will update once we have more to report.
NUST

Parliamentary debate on Safe Standing

Supporters will know, from previous articles, that NUST are in favour of the introduction of Safe Standing and have long been supportive of the FSF ‘Stand Up for Choice’ campaign .Following the refusal by Government of the application to introduce Safe Standing at West Brom momentum has been gathering behind the campaign.
On Monday ,25th June 2018, a parliamentary debate will take place on the issue of Safe Standing in the Premier League and Championship following an e-petition "relating to allowing Premier League and Championship football clubs to introduce safe standing" which resulted in over 112,000 signatures in support.

If you wish to encourage your MP to take part in the debate please follow the following instructions;
Visit www.writetothem.comEnter your post codeClick on your MP’s nameComplete the online form and make your case for standing at football
At a political level the Government have recently indicated they are prepared to review their position and following a recent meeting with fans groups, attended by a representative from NUST, the opposition have agreed to introduce a policy in favour of Safe Standing.
There is no doubt that times are changing and the issue of Safe Standing is now high on the agenda.
We’ll keep you informed.
NUST

SEASON TICKET RENEWALS

NUFC announced a new season ticket renewal procedure yesterday and whilst those on long term deals are unaffected it’s clear that for many fans the new pricing structure is a cause for concern. Whilst in general over the years the club has promoted an affordable pricing strategy there are concerns amongst fans that have contacted NUST that they are being ‘priced out’ of watching NUFC. Of concern to many fans is the prior lack of communication to supporters about the changes. Presumably the new structure has been under consideration for some time, yet the matter was not raised for discussion at the end of season Fans Forum. The clubs biggest asset is its fan base and NUST would urge the club to listen to those supporters affected, and if required deal with matters sympathetically on a case by case basis as a reward to its loyal supporters.
NUST

FIXTURE LIST 2018/19

The fixtures for next season were announced yesterday with our kick off being at home v Spurs .A difficult first month but as usual we get to play everyone twice!

Other key dates have us at Liverpool on Boxing Day, home against Man U on New Years Day, and finishing with a trip to Fulham.
Of course, it’s all subject to the heavy caveat that TV fixtures have not been announced….so just take the fixture list as a ‘general guide’. If you haven’t seen them they are repeated below;
11.08.2018 Tottenham Hotspur (h) 18.08.2018 Cardiff City (a) 25.08.2018 Chelsea (h) 01.09.2018 Manchester City (a) 15.09.2018 Arsenal (h) 22.09.2018 Crystal Palace (a) 29.09.2018 Leicester City (h) 06.10.2018 Manchester United (a) 20.10.2018 Brighton (h) 27.10.2018 Southampton (a) 03.11.2018 Watford (h) 10.11.2018 A.F.C. Bournemouth (h) 24.11.2018 Burnley (a) 01.12.2018 West Ham United (h) 05.12.2018 Everton (a) 08.12.2018 Wolverhampton (h) 15.12.2018 Huddersfield Town (a) 22.12.2018 Fulham (h) 26.12.2018 Liverpool (a)
29.12.2018 Watford (a) 01.01.2019 Manchester United (h) 12.01.2019 Chelsea (a)
19.01.2019 Cardiff City (h) 30.01.2019 Manchester City (h) 02.02.2019 Tottenham Hotspur (a) 09.02.2019 Wolverhampton (a) 23.02.2019 Huddersfield Town (h) 27.02.2019 Burnley (h) 02.03.2019 West Ham United (a) 09.03.2019 Everton (h) 16.03.2019 A.F.C. Bournemouth (a) 30.03.2019 Arsenal (a) 06.04.2019 Crystal Palace (h) 13.04.2019 Leicester City (a) 20.04.2019 Southampton (h) 27.04.2019 Brighton (a)
04.05.2019 Liverpool (h) 12.05.2019 Fulham (a)
NUST

NUFC FANS FOODBANK UPDATE

The NUFC Fans Foodbank held its final collection of the season before the Chelsea home game, but aware that hunger doesn’t stop at the end of the football season, those behind the initiative, including NUST, decided to consider collecting at events during the close season.
Led by stalwart Bill Corcoran, the team of volunteers earmarked the Magic Weekend Rugby tournament at St James Park on 19th May for their first collection. Although they were not able to set up on their normal spot-and collected further along Strawberry Place- which had been turned into a fan zone –it was a very lively area with fans of all of the clubs mixing in what was a friendly atmosphere! NUST Board member Colin Whittle turned up for volunteering duties on what was a very warm afternoon and reported that it was strange collecting outside Nine Bar ,but without knowing anybody milling around the ground. The team put in a canny session from around mid-day until around 4pm and raised over £140. Highlight of the afternoon was when a band appeared ,trumpets etc. ,playing La Bamba ,to be met by a hearty chorus from the volunteers of ‘Rafa Benitez’ much to the amusement of the rugby fans.

The next event on the calendar was a gig down at the 02 by The Farm on 2nd June. Frontman Peter Hooton is very much involved in the Liverpool fan scene and after various conversations from local Mags and a few strings pulled, the band and venue allowed NUFC Fans Foodbank volunteers Bill Corcoran, Steve Hastie and Colin Whittle to set up in the warmth of the venue itself .It was a great night with contributions from gig goers and the Band themselves. Because quite a bit of publicity had been generated many of those attending also arrived with food donations to add to the money collected. After collecting the trio were able to watch the gig-All Together Now!
Next up? The Three Ed Sheeran concerts at St James Park on 8th, 9th and 10th June .Plenty of publicity about the Foodbank collections resulted in those attending the concerts having plenty of awareness of the initiative. Setting up at 5pm each evening –again further along Strawberry Place –volunteers collected until around 8.15pm each evening. Once again NUST turned up for volunteering duties each night and reported that there was an electric atmosphere around the whole event with volunteers acting as ‘ambassadors’ for the City, directing those attending the concerts to the appropriate stand as well as answering a host of other questions…the highlight being ‘can you tell me where the Alan Shearer statue is please?’ Together with the proceeds of a raffle at Nine Bar preceding the concerts a total of £1910.00 was raised over the course of the weekend.

It’s important to remember that the need to feed the hungry of our Region continues all year round and it’s great to see NUFC Fans Foodbank helping out at events in the close season. Particular praise to all those volunteers who give up their own time to help out….and of course to everyone who has contributed in any way.
The NUFC Fans Foodbank continues to be open in the Grainger Market each, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am until 4pm, to accept donations. If you are in Newcastle please call in, all donations are gratefully accepted.
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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