Hard Questions & Hard Times For Exeter City’s Supporters’ Trust

Gary Andrews

Gary Andrews has been writing, broadcasting and podcasting about football-related odds and sods (and occasionally proper stuff) since 2005. His usual areas of interest and lower and non-league in the UK, general football culture, broadcasting and technology's relation to football. May occasionally write about Australian football if feeling so inclined. Supports Exeter City and Sydney FC. Unused to success.

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4 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    One thing Exeter’s Trust never agreed on is the method by which fan ownership has a positive bent, which is to say, how being a member of the trust makes you feel like an owner of the club. It’s all about what the fan member can contribute, financially, to the club’s revenues, but the pathway between my membership and my vote, and then the Trust board, then the club board and club policy, is nebulous to the point of not being real.

    The only actual mechanism to get extra trust directors on the Board is to call an EGM of the Club, and vote them in; given you’re the owner, you shouldn’t have to do that, because you should have protocols which show how the Chairman of the club gets appointed, how the performance is assessed, how directors get removed and the rest. If your governance and management arrangements are that it’s an elected dictatorship with a reserve power for fans to press the nuclear option in extremis, then that needs to be communicated so fans aren’t oversold what owning their football club actually means.

    Alternatively, if you aspire to a greater level of engagement, then you have to put in place a system that enables that to be brought to bear within a framework that meets the operating environment of the club, which is to say splicing an enterprise built on transparency and accountability onto one operating in an environment suffused with secrecy and duplicity will always be hard, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that people play nice.

  2. Bryn says:

    As a fan and Trust member at Wrexham, I have always taken inspiration from Exeter’s pioneering approach to ownership. On that basis I wish them every success, we need as many good examples of Trust-run clubs as possible.
    Having said that, I’ve seen at close quarters how hard it is, how much time volunteers have to give to keep it all going. It’s a shame that every day has to be a battle but until all clubs fall in line and start spending only what they can afford, trying to be competitive whilst staying within the budget will always provide the biggest challenge.

  3. Pete says:

    As a long time Exeter City supporter I don’t think that the Trust at Exeter can be held up as typical, as every trust is different. Each has their own method of operating and each is dependent on the personalities involved.

    In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes the Exeter trust made was to relinquish the Chairmanship of the club board some six years ago.

    The Trust, as the representative of the major shareholder (the supporters) ought to be able to challenge and influence the club board in every situation where it believes the board is at variance with the will of the supporters.

    At Exeter that influence appears never to have been exercised and a number of decisions have been made that would not have been supported by a majority of fans and probably not have been made by a club board run in the traditional way.

    Under the traditional model a team manager who had only achieved 3 wins in almost 6 months would have been long gone, but the Exeter model is far too incestuous for that to happen and it is that pitfall that other existing and future football club supporters’ trusts need to avoid.

  4. Steven says:

    As a life long supporter of Portsmouth I have saved for a long time to get a share in my beloved club, I pray for the day fan owned clubs are the pioneers of English football. It is a scary thought fan ownership can divide the clubs fans (especially when things aren’t going swimmingly) but we just have to weather the storm.

    Onwards and upwards.

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