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Monday
Jul182011

Ashwater Press: an independent voice for Fulham’s history

Trust members and fans of Fulham in general will be familiar with the range of books from Ashwater Press, including the 'Tales from the Riverbank' volumes and the fine tome on Johnny Haynes. For some years, Ashwater have attempted to broaden the scope of their retail outlets, including those of the club itself. It is debatable whether any of their books will (or would have) detracted from any club product, aside from being considerably better-researched and without the embarrassing factual errors that are commonplace in official publications. Regrettably, the club has placed a number of obstacles in the way of any progress, including some financial demands that are both unreasonable and punitive. In a detailed statement, which is attached, Martin Plumb and Ken Coton explain why they believe they have reached an impasse with the club.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the senior management at Fulham Football Club neither understands, nor has any serious knowledge of, Fulham's rich and chequered history, but believes that it should be used only as sales support to market 'brand product', presumably to those that consider that Fulham's history commenced in 1997. A perhaps more disturbing aspect is the apparent, but unstated, desire for control of the reporting of Fulham's history by corporate personnel whose turnover is high and tenure brief. The Club’s loyal, often long-suffering, fans are the guardians of its history and those more recent its inheritors. This history is best recounted by diligent researchers, those who are independent of ‘brand’ pressures and the need to promote revisionary accounts.

Among several items in preparation or in a state of near-completion are volumes 3 and 4 of ‘Tales from the Riverbank’, ‘Keegan’s Kingdom’ (celebrating the 1999 Champions side) and ‘40 years of Fulham in Colour’. Trust members are urged to read the statement from Ken and Martin on our web-site and look for publication announcements on that of Ashwater Press (http://www.ashwaterpress.co.uk/).

Wednesday
Jun152011

Trust Statement on Supporters Direct

Supporters Direct (SD) is an umbrella organisation established in 2000, by the United Kingdom government (with cross-party support) to provide support and assistance for its member trusts to secure a greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs (and, more recently, other sports) and within their governing structures. SD’s record is impressive and its efforts have led to the creation of 180 supporters’ trusts across the UK, representing 270,000 members.

The Fulham Supporters' Trust has been a member since its inception and we recognise the vitality of a national body for football trusts and similar bodies for the independent supporters’ movement. SD gives a range of support to trusts, advising on administrative and legal matters and offering short training courses for trust officials and FST has benefited greatly from these. If a trust falters, as can happen, SD will step in to give advice and encouragement in order to galvanise.

Thus, the Trust is gravely concerned by the recent withdrawal of circa £1.2 million in funding intended for SD by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), administrators of the Premier League Fans' Fund, which threatens the very existence of SD.

The Trust notes that, prior to the General Election, all three main political parties made promises to increase the influence of fan ownership in football and sport in general. Further, the current sports minister, Hugh Robertson, promised to ensure Supporters Direct would continue to be funded. The Fulham Supporters' Trust supports the action to bring pressure to bear on the FSIF to rescind its decision.

Wednesday
May112011

Trust attend Supporters Direct policy launch at Westminster

Tom Greatrex MP (left) with Trust committee member Dan CrawfordThe Fulham Supporters Trust were delighted to attend the launch of two new Supporters Direct policy papers this afternoon at Westminster.

The two briefing papers - Developing Public Policy to Encourage Supporter Community Ownership in Football and Developing Football Regulation to Encourage Supporter Community Ownership in Football - are intended to inform the Coalition government and members of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee ahead of the publication of the Committee's report on football governance.

You can download the policy papers here and here.

The launch was hosted by former Fulham Supporters' Trust chair Tom Greatrex and attended by a number of MPs and supporters' trust representatives.

Wednesday
Apr272011

Leyton Orient's fight continues

In February, the Trust supported a call from an independent fans' body at Leyton Orient FC for football fans to support their objections to West Ham United FC being awarded use of the Olympic Stadium, following the games in 2012.

We noted that the very limited consultations with Hammers fans had revealed remarkably little support for uprooting the club from its long-term home and away from its fan-base. There was even less desire for a similar move on the part of fans of Tottenham Hotspur FC. Despite belligerent statements from the directors of both clubs, the bulk of their fans remain opposed to a move. Rather than discuss the footballing and fans issues involved, many in the media have sought to polarise the matter around the personalities at the clubs involved, none of whom inspire a moment’s empathy. 

Subsequently, the Football Supporters' Federation hosted a online petition 'Save Leyton Orient Football Club' (http://www.fsf.org.uk/petitions/save-orient.php), which the Trust supports and commends to its members and fans of Fulham FC in general. 

A fortnight ago, the Os applied for a judicial review (i) over the award of the stadium to West Ham and (ii) the loan of £40 million by the London Borough of Newham (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13082972) to a stadium company from which West Ham would rent. The borough's website is both vague with regard to detail and over-optimistic on the stadium's use and revenue generation (http://www.newham.gov.uk/2012Games/OlympicStadiumbidFAQs.htm). 

Neither West Ham United nor Newham borough have been given much thought, at least publicly, to the potentially adverse effects on the Os of having a Premier League club moving into the immediate vicinity of their established home. Part of the Os claim is that the Premier League has broken its own rules in sanctioning such a move.

This move would add even further pressure, as an alternative attraction, on professional and semi-professional football clubs in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Although the Os are having a successful season, and are in with a chance of reaching the League One play offs, it is debatable whether they could compete with a Premier League team in terms of attendance, even if they were to be promoted. 

Within Waltham Forest, the fortunes of its lower league clubs have deteriorated considerably. Sadly, Leyton FC, Greater London's second oldest club, withdrew from the Ryman League Division One North in mid-January, 2011, their playing record being expunged for this season, It is uncertain whether the club can be resurrected. 

In the same division, Waltham Forest FC, has been ground-sharing outside the borough since 2008 (in Ilford FC's Cricklefield Stadium). Although they were scheduled to return to their Wadham Lodge ground in October, 2010, this has been delayed and the club languishes at the foot of the division, with relegation a certainty unless a major restructuring of non-league football enables them to retain their status. 

For all three clubs and their fans, the potential arrival of West Ham United on their doorstep, a move which has been termed a footballing franchise, is as unwelcome a prospect as it is to the fans of 'The Hammers'.

Friday
Apr152011

Trust to host Football Supporters' Federation (Southern Division) AGM

FST is pleased to be able to host the annual general meeting of the Southern Division of the Football Supporters’ Federation, which will take place on Sunday 17th April, 2011, upstairs at The Brewer Hall Building, St Mary's Church on Putney High Street.


In addition to the formal business of the Southern Division, topics for discussion at this meeting will include the following:

Ticketing Issues - ticket prices, away tickets, 'early bird' season ticket deadlines.

Respect - on and off the field of play. Where do you stand on the Wayne Rooney debate?. What is your club doing locally?

This is a delegates only meeting.