Dear Friends and Members,
Firstly, I do apologise for the Trust's lack of communication. Personally I've had to deal with a situation where I and other fellow work colleagues were made redundant so I felt I had to have a break with the strong organisational ties that I have in public life, and this includes the Trust.
Secondly, the disappointing second half of last season and all the issues surrounding the Club ownership the appointed Head Coach and the reported stories amongst supporters as to how the Club has been run had me not looking forward to the start of the season at all.
However the win against Shrewsbury had me turning up to the first home game of the season against Barnsley and as I watch, it just had me thinking this is just a continuation of the poor form we had during the end of last season! We looked an average side in League One. The following games have shown little improvement and despite the slender 1 - 0 win against Burton, and the last home defeat to Wycombe was the worst performance I've seen in a long while.
It is clear from comments in social media that fans of Bradford City are getting restless following reports in the national press about the business model of the club, and because of the performances on the pitch. The Supporters Trust shares these concerns, and will seek opportunities to discuss the full range of issues with representatives of the club. If you would like to be part of this process, please make your views known by replying to this message.
The Supporters Trust is an independent democratic membership based supporters organisation lead by an elected board or committee of members to collectively steer the Trust. Our key objective (formed in 2002) during the periods of stability has been to have a good relationship with the Club. This has not always been easy with the Club playing a game of 'smoke and mirrors'. Since the the development of the Supporters Board in 2012/13 this has largely continued. The Trust and Supporters Board would like a 'structured dialogue' that the EFL sees as as requisite for all it's member Clubs and indeed this 'Fans' Engagement' is included in Bradford City's 'Club Charter' on its website. Whilst it is fair to say that the Club have engaged with the Supporters Board (that the Trust is part of) and there was a big 'Fans Forum' in February after the sacking of Stuart McCall, the commitment to have a meaningful dialogue is still sadly lacking at this point in time whilst results have been poor.
The Trust has always attempted prove itself to be a safe pair of hands for the Club to work with and it has often had reservations about issues that could undo any trusted relationship in the form of any campaign.
One of the distinct features of the Trust is of course it's ability to campaign and this has been during the club's periods of financial crisis. Our long term aim is to own a significant share of the Club or even a majority share. There are some Trust's that even own their clubs. Fans' collectively and democratically owning a football club for the benefit of it's supporters is an ethos that many Trusts do share. They came about as a result of crisis in the early '90's and Supporters Direct, formed in 2000 following a recommendation of the Football Task Force, to encourage the formation and development of groups of fans to take ownership stakes in their club. Since then SD has overseen the creation of more than 200 Supporters’ Trusts in the UK and has helped more than 50 sports clubs either reform under or convert to community ownership after all we do believe that collectively fans are the largest investors in the game.
As part of the Localism Act 2011 we do have the ability in making an application to the Local Authority to safeguard Valley Parade as a Community of Asset Value (CAV). The principle of it is that it keeps it listed safe until if it comes up for sale, communities will be able to gain extra time to bid for the ground. When we have discussed this we have thought it may be preferable to do this if and when our Club becomes the owner of our ground.
In Germany football fans have a controlling stake in their football teams in a legal way, at least the majority of them in the Bundesliga 1 & 2 do as there are loopholes 3 clubs have gone through to void themselves to be run this way. In the UK MP's have discussed the German model.
Today's wealth in the modern game coming largely from TV money has attracted medium to big business individual, partners and consortiums from across the world to have a dabble in the beautiful game to buy a club and imagine themselves basking in the adulation of the fans buying their club success after investing as little as they possibly can themselves.
There have been many campaigns in recent years where fans have taken to high profile campaigns if a large section of fans have seen their club owners unfit to run their clubs, and at a last resort the Trusts and other independent fans organisations have taken this path. Our West Yorkshire rivals Leeds have experienced this, as to have Blackpool, Man Utd, Hull City, Newcastle Utd, Coventry, Liverpool and more.
It has to be said though, a high profile campaign should only be the last resort where nothing more fruitful can be salvaged from having a dialogue with the club. If the anger towards the club increases and we cannot engage with the Club then holding a fans' forum will be organised inviting supporters' groups and supporters, where we can look at ways of making the Club listen to the fans views.
If you are a member and you would like to be become active in the Trust and if we have to come to the aid of our Club if and when necessary please get in touch. Likewise if you are not a member and would like to be involved please fill in the free online membership form.