Newcastle United Supporters Trust
|Motto||Striving for a positive change|
|Formation||18 September 2008 (as Newcastle United Supporters Club - NUSC)|
|Type||Unofficial Supporter's Club|
|Constitutional Supporters' trust|
|Purpose||To represent the interests of and provide a voice for the fans of Newcastle United F.C.|
|Headquarters||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Membership||Approximately 2,000 full members|
|Affiliations||Football Supporters' Federation, Supporters Direct|
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust, or the NUST, is a supporters' trust consisting of fans of Newcastle United (NUFC), an English football club. The prime role of the group is to "represent the interests of and provide a voice for the fans of Newcastle United". The group was set up as an initiative by the fanzines True Faith and The Mag, and the fan website NUFC.com, aiming to be independent of but maintain a working relationship with the owners of the football club. A later stated aim was to achieve stakeholder representation on the board of the football club
- 1 Background
- 2 History
- 3 Structure
- 4 Achievements
- 5 Yes We Can! campaign
- 6 Board resignations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The group was formed in September 2008 as the Newcastle United Supporters Club (NUSC), following on from large scale fan demonstrations against the NUFC board and club owner Mike Ashley after the shock resignation of manager Kevin Keegan, culminating in a long and emotional statement from Ashley on 14 September announcing he intended to sell NUFC, stating that he had listened to the fans who "want him out". A backdrop to the demonstrations was a general feeling of disorganisation through lack of a common voice, resulting in various competing and conflicting ideas of how to protest against the club. Fans also sought an outlet to offence felt by the insinuation by Ashley in his official statement that he or his family would be assaulted if he attended a game, and that the fans demanded unrealistic Galactico signings. Fans were also seeking to correct the perceived inaccurate and stereotypical depiction of their aims and intentions by sections of the national media, such as unrealistic expectations and demands while claiming to be working towards a seat on the board.
The day after Ashley's statement on 15 September 2008 a press release from True Faith and The Mag announced a public meeting would be held on the night of 16 September 2008 to judge support for a proposed new supporter's group, initially identified as the Newcastle United Supporters Group.
The release stated that while the continuation of the protest against the Ashley regime would be the initial focus of the group, the group was also intended to be a long term initiative, and the proposed group would be "energetic, intelligent and responsibly represent the broad church of Newcastle United's support". The group would through an inclusive mass membership attempt to be the legitimate voice of the supporters of NUFC, something which neither supporting fanzines, despite earlier releasing a joint statement over the desired form of the Ashley protest, had "never claimed to be".
The meeting was held in the Tyneside Irish Centre opposite the Gallowgate End of St James' Park, home stadium of NUFC, attended by a "few hundred" fans. The meeting sought comments from the floor, and was attended by an invited speakers panel made up of John Gibson, Malcolm Dix and Colin Whittle.
Sports writer John Gibson was a veteran reporter for the Evening Chronicle. NUFC honorary life vice-president Malcolm Dix had formed the Magpie Group to take over NUFC in 1987 with Sir John Hall, eventually succeeding in 1993. Dix had also formed the Newcastle Supporters Association in 1977, which folded in 1984, as well as editing an early fanzine The Supporter. Solicitor Colin Whittle was involved with the Save Our Seats campaign, a dispute in the late 1990s between fans and NUFC over seat ownership at St James' Park.
Following the initial public meeting, a further private meeting was held on 18 September 2008, at which an interim committee was established. NUSC made their first official statement through this committee on 19 September 2008 on a newly launched website, which also contained a registration form for prospective members to register their interest in the group. In the statement, NUSC expressed the feeling that for progress to be made, the club should be sold at the "earliest possible opportunity".
On 28 November 2008, interim team manager Joe Kinnear's contract was converted from a monthly rolling contract to a permanent one running until the end of the 2008/9 season. On 2 December 2008, in reaction to this news indicating the club might not be sold until the end of the year, the NUSC called for a truce, and while affirming the main aim was to still see the club sold, it speculated that if that did not happen, and Mike Ashley were to publicly apologise for mistakes made, that he might be given a second chance to run the club. Although at that time, the NUSC had so far not been able to open a dialogue with senior figures at the club.
At the same time, the NUSC website was updated with a countdown timer alongside an article addressed to Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias and Dennis Wise, which contained a list of potential problems that Ashley and the club would face if immediate and substantial investments were not made towards the first team playing squad during the January transfer window.
NUSC also published a "NUFC Christmas Tale" on their website, which was a satirical poem about Mike Ashley and his "Cockney Mafia".
The 28 December 2008 match at St James' Park between Newcastle and Liverpool was designated Bobby Robson day by the NUSC, celebrating the man and raising funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
On the same day, Mike Ashley announced he had decided not to sell NUFC, and had taken it off the market. The timing of this announcement was criticised by the NUSC as hijacking the tribute to Bobby Robson
The protest rally was given the go-ahead by Northumbria Police and a schedule was released a few days before the event was due to take place. There was no explanation from NUSC as to what had caused the delay between the announcement of the rally and clarification of what was due to take place.
Despite this uncertainty, the rally went ahead at Grey's Monument which had been draped in a "Ashley - Wise Out!!" banner along with "NUSC - change".
Several members of NUSC took the opportunity to talk to the varying crowd, estimated as being around 200–300 at any given point, interspersed with local entertainment.
The NUSC announced their intention to change their status to that of a Supporters' trust, the details of which were discussed in a public meeting on Thursday 19 March 2009 at the Tyneside Irish Centre, with speakers from Supporters Direct, the Lincoln City Supporters Trust, along with other notable Newcastle United related figures, who related their experiences of Supporters' Trusts.
On 26 March 2009 NUSC released a press statement entitled "All Together Now" as a rallying cry for supporters to get behind the team in an effort to stave off the immediate threat of relegation from the FA Premier League.
Following the appointment of Alan Shearer as caretaker manager until the end of the season, the local paper, the Evening Chronicle gave its support to the slightly renamed "Al Together Now" campaign.
Prior to Shearer's first game in charge, against Chelsea on 4 April, the NUSC staged a balloon release. Following this, the club agreed to provide Flags and scarves at the last three home games of the season in order to generate a better atmosphere. However, after providing flags for the home game against Middlesbrough, the club decided not to provide any flags or scarves for the final home fixture against Fulham.
Having received backing from Supporters Direct, NUSC worked over the summer in the transfer of status to a Supporters Trust. This was officially achieved in July 2009, and resulted in a slight name change to Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST).
NUST was officially launched in October 2009 at Newcastle Civic Centre. The trust produced its "More than a Trust" document, outlining NUST's vision "to engage with the owners of Newcastle United..., the community the club serves, and ultimately to have supporters representation on the board."
It was decided that the initial NUSC interim committee would remain in place until June 2009, at which point, elections would be held on a one member, one vote basis. However, the elections were postponed until early 2010, due to the transfer in status to a Supporters Trust and to allow the trust to work with Supporters Direct to ensure that the elections meet their requirements. The NUST committee incorporates representation with the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF). NUST is a recognised Supporters' trust, with a constitution matching a that of a Supporters' trust
The start-up costs of the new group have been initially been funded by the fanzines and nufc.com website. Funding was then transferred to an annual £10 membership fee (with concessions) model, payable using PayPal or by cheque. Should the NUSC become a Supporters' trust, it would also gain government funding. The NUSC instituted a dissolution clause within their rules, such that, in the event of three quarters of the membership signing a dissolution motion, the NUSC would be wound up, and any monies remaining after winding up would be donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trust.
NUST holds regular meetings in pubs and social clubs throughout the North East of England. The meetings are open to both NUST members and non-members and allow committee members to inform and update Newcastle United supporters with the latest trust developments. The roadshows are also partly social events with quizzes and regular guest speakers, ex-Newcastle player John Anderson and local journalist, John Gibson of the Evening Chronicle.
In October 2009, NUST launched its 'Local Achievers' scheme, in conjunction with the Evening Chronicle. The scheme rewards people in the local community, who have been nominated by Newcastle fans with tickets to Newcastle United home games. Examples of local achievers include three teenagers who formed their own junior Newcastle United supporters club, charity fundraisers, and a youth football coach.
Trust members now receive a monthly newsletter called NUST News updating them with the main news concerning the trust. The majority of members receive this in the form of an e-mail, although those without e-mail addresses receive a hard copy.
Yes We Can! campaign
On 10 November 2009, NUST launched a campaign to buy Newcastle United on NewcastleGateshead Quayside. The campaign aims to raise the money via pledges both fans and local businesses. Initially, the campaign is aimed at investors with either a minimum of £1,500 cash, or a Self-invested personal pension at a minimum transfer of £25,000, with each investor entitled to one vote, regardless of the amount invested.
On 24 November 2010, committee member Bill Corcoran resigned from the board. On 1 December 2010 Neil Mitchell resigned from the board. In April 2011 Steve Hastie resigned from the board.
In all, three members have resigned, citing problems with the board and way in which the Trust is being run.
- NUSC first official statement, 19 September 2008
- "Members Meeting" (pdf). Newcastle United Supporters Club. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "NUSC Aim for Board Representation. ... it should be our aim to get stakeholder representation at board level at NUFC. - Motions Carried"
- NUFC official statement from Mike Ashley, 14 September 2008
- Newcastle owner Mike Ashley enlists help of former Football League chairman to sell club The Telegraph, 16 September 2008
- Newcastle United supporters begin rebuilding The Times, 17 September 2008
- No let-up in Newcastle fans' actions against Mike Ashley The Times, 16 September 2008
- New supporters' club to give fans a voice Website of the Evening Chronicle, 15 September 2008
- NUFC fans team up to form supporters' club Website of the Evening Chronicle, 17 September 2008
- Interview with Malcolm Dix www.nebusiness.co.uk, 11 August 2008
- Comment on football article from Malcolm Dix TIME Online, 31 May 2007
- So You Think You Want To Be A Director of a Football Club: A view from inside the Boardrooms at Newcastle United and Kettering Town Autobiography summary of Peter Mallinger, former NUFC director]
- Mike Ashley 'could have sold up months ago' Website of the Evening Chronicle, 19 September 2008
- "Kinnear to stay at Newcastle". EuroSport - Yahoo!. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.[dead link]
- Luke Edwards (2 December 2008). "We are ready to forgive Ashley". The Journal. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "and with no prospect of new owners before the end of the year, Malcolm Shiels, chairman of NUSC, has admitted a compromise should be reached..."What we want, more than anything, is to see an end to the state of limbo which has been so damaging over the last few months. If he [Ashley] was to come out and say he can’t sell the club, but he is willing to come back and try again to get things right, he would be given a chance to do just that. He has made mistakes and he probably knows it. If he was to actually come out and admit those mistakes and express a desire to look forward rather than back, I think most fans would be okay with that..."Since Chris Mort left we’ve had no dialogue from any senior figure at the club.""
- Dan Warburton (19 December 2008). "NUFC fans urged to fly the flag for Sir Bobby Robson". The Journal. Retrieved 29 December 2008. "NEWCASTLE fans are planning to hold a day of celebrations to fly the flag for former manager Sir Bobby Robson. The Newcastle United Supporters Club is hoping to organise a city-wide event in the run-up to United's clash with Liverpool on 28 December. The group also wants to use the day to raise cash for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, set up earlier this year"
- "Events, Honouring a very special man". Newcastle United Supporters Club. undated. Retrieved 29 December 2008. "With Christmas approaching we can think of no better time for the club, the fans and the city of Newcastle to come together in one united voice and say: "Merry Christmas Sir Bobby Robson". Newcastle United Supporters Club is calling on everyone who loves the man and the manager to turn out on 28/12/08 and pay tribute to the Black and White Knight."
- "Bobby Robson celebrated at match". BBC News. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008. "A day of celebration is taking place in Newcastle for Sir Bobby Robson...Organised by the Newcastle United Supporters' Club, fans will sing a rendition of 'Robson's Wonderland'...A collection for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation will also take place on Sunday"
- "Newcastle fans hit out at Ashley". ITV. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008. "The billionaire sportswear magnate has decided to push ahead with his own plans for the club after it failed to find a buyer during a three-month campaign...released his statement as supporters' groups were putting the finishing touches to a planned day of celebration in honour of former manager Sir Bobby Robson...interim chairman Malcom Shiels said the party for Sir Bobby...will go ahead and there will be no anti-Ashley protests at the home game against Liverpool. But he said the announcement had taken the "wind out of our sails" and claimed the timing meant the day had been hijacked."
- http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/nufc/newcastle-united-news/2009/04/02/back-united-al-the-way-72703-23295848/. Retrieved 22 August 2009. "HES put the Al in Altogether and today the North East was urged to get behind Newcastle United. Your Chronicle has teamed up with the Newcastle United Supporters Club to launch Al-Together Now, a one-off eight game campaign to do all we can to help Alan Shearer get the Magpies out the mire. We are calling on you, the loyal Toon Army, to bury all thoughts of this seasons turmoil and galvanise behind Big Al." Missing or empty
- "Members Meeting" (pdf). Newcastle United Supporters Club. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "Proposal - That the members should give 100% support to the interim committee, until the end of June next year. At that point, there will be democratic elections based on one member one vote. - Motions Carried"
- "Members Meeting" (pdf). Newcastle United Supporters Club. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "Representation with the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) has been established"
- "Members Meeting" (pdf). Newcastle United Supporters Club. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "Our constitution is the same as a supporters trust...Proposal - Should we pursue setting this supporters club up as a properly constituted Supporters Trust? - Motions Carried"
- "Members Meeting" (pdf). Newcastle United Supporters Club. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "NUSC Aim for Board Representation. As a supporters trust, we would get access to government funding. - Motions Carried"
- "Rules of Newcastle United Supporters Club". Newcastle United Supporters Club. undated. Retrieved 5 December 2008. "Page 3 - Dissolution. The Association may be dissolved by the consent of three-quarters of the members who sign an instrument of dissolution in the form provided by Treasury Regulations. Any monies or assets that remain following the winding up of the Association will be donated to: The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trust or if this Trust is not in existence: One or more societies or charities established for the benefit of the community operating – sporting or otherwise"