Dialogue with fans key to restoration of club

The KCOM stadium.

The Hull City Supporters Trust (HCST) sent an open letter to the club earlier this week, addressing various ongoing issues that the club have failed to fix in recent years.

The points being addressed by the HCST included contract negotiations, membership and concessionary issues, and stadium management.

Read the HCST letter here:

http://hullcitysupporterstrust.com/open-letter-to-hull-city/ 

Of course, supporters are arguably the most important part of any football club. This being said, various club owners in the past have not treated fans with the respect that they most definitely deserve. 

The HCST actively aim to represent Tigers’ fans effectively, and by producing this open letter to the club, it gives the fans a real sense of involvement in the running of the club behind the scenes.

I spoke with HCST Chairman Geoff Bielby, to find out more about exactly how the committee is run.

Speaking with regards to other clubs in crisis, Blackpool being the main example, Bielby explained: “Hull City Supporters Trust have spoken to other clubs vis the FSF and Supporters Direct.”

“I have direct access too, and in several cases can count as friends’ Supporters Group representatives at most crisis clubs. In short, yes, we talk, and clubs consult HCST.”

Speaking on the Hull City owners, Bielby said: “I’ve also had three meetings with both Assem and Ehab Allam, our club owners. They are in no doubt what our issues are.”

“They now exclude me and HCST from direct formal dialogue.”

Although there are still a whole load of issues surrounding the club, it seems there is some progress being made, following the recent introduction of the new club crest. 

“Hull City have reintroduced a new crest for next season and it includes our correct playing name so that’s a win. There is still some branding work to do though.”

HCST could certainly take inspiration from other clubs too, when trying to communicate effectively with clubs directly.

Blackpool are a perfect example of how fans can be the key to the restoration of a football club, after the ownership of the club was changed recently, leading fans to believe that they ‘got their club back’.

To find out more about exactly how this was achieved, I spoke with Tony Wilkinson, the Deputy Chairman of the Blackpool Supporters Trust. 

Speaking on his own personal experiences with the club, he said: “My experiences as a Blackpool supporter over recent years have been the most difficult in over 50 years of following my football club.”

“Any fan will tell you that the club you support is for life, so when I along with thousands of other Blackpool fans decided that enough was enough, it was a big sacrifice to not go into the ground and support the team.”

With regards to planned protests, Tony explained: “The matchday routine for games at Bloomfield Road was to maintain a presence outside the ground with other committee members and volunteers.”

“This boycott of home games took place for 4 years and was known as not a penny more (NAPM) which referred to our decision to not give another penny to the owners of BFC (The Oystons).”

As a result of the committee’s effective protesting process, the club now belongs to the fans again. The HCST will be hoping for something similar to happen in the near future at Hull City.

Touching on Hull City’s current situation, Tony said: “I hope that Hull City supporters can soon enjoy the same success we have, removing the unwanted owners from their club.”

“This can be achieved if fans are prepared to make a sacrifice now, that will provide a better future for the club. It is also important that through these difficult times, all fans try to maintain solidarity in the campaign.”

“Although it was difficult, the joint effort of the thousands of Blackpool fans was a major part of the success of our campaign.”

There is still a long way to go for Tigers fans, until they will be happy again with the way their club is being ran. However, it seems persistence is the key, and Blackpool are certainly a perfect example of that.

[Alex Thurston – @althurstonsport]

This article was commissioned with support from H.I.T. Patrons

 

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