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Supporters Direct Conference 2004
Supporters Direct Conference 2004

YCST leading the way

Supporters Direct Annual Conference 2004

Report by Trust Board member Ian Hey


Two members of the Trust Board, Steve Beck and Ian Hey attended the recent Supporters Direct Annual Conference held at the British Library in London on 28th October 2004. This is the opportunity for all Supporters Trusts to gather together for the purpose of exchanging information, experiences etc. for the benefit both of their own club and football in general.


There is also held the AGM for Supporters Direct of which York City Supporters Trust is a member together with the Trust of the Season award for which York City are previous winners.


The first two hours of the conference were taken up by keynote speakers including the Right Hon. Gordon Brown Chancellor of the Exchequer (via Video link), who as well as revealing himself to be a Raith Rovers fan and a positive supporter of Supporters Trusts made several references to York City in his speech and indicated that he would putting measures in place in future budgets to assist Supporters Trusts financially.


Additional speeches came from Sir Brian Mawhinney, Chairman of the Football League, Mick Maguire of the PFA and Andy Burnham MP Chairman of Supporters Direct. Each of them spoke of the various issues facing football and all made very good comments about York City FC and our Supporters Trust and highlighted us as being a positive role model who are showing football the future way forward.


Headline achievements highlighted at the Conference included 110 Supporters Trusts in England Scotland and Wales, 59 Trusts hold equity stakes in their clubs, 38 have supporter representatives on the board 3 have a major share holding and there are 6 clubs where the supporters are in control including York City.


This was followed by a speech from David Conn of the Independent newspaper who launched his new book "A beautiful game, searching for the soul of football " that highlights the mismanagement and destruction of our football clubs by various parties. There is a special chapter devoted to the problems faced by York City and its supporters as well as chapters featuring other clubs. I understand that copies of the book may in due course be available in the Club Shop.


The conference then broke up into several workshops for the remainder of the morning and afternoon sessions with delegates free to come and go to as they pleased.


Steve Beck attended a session entitled "Internal Trust issues" hosted by members of supporters trusts representing Leicester, Darlington and Glasgow Celtic. A very interesting session that highlighted the internal issues facing many trusts throughout football.


Steve was dragged(?) from this session to do an interview with Sky Sports on the basis that they wanted to talk to a representative of one of the most successful supporters trusts in the country but nobody seems to have seen it broadcast so we cannot comment on his performance! 


In the afternoon Steve attended an alternative breakout this time entitled "Being a Club Director". This featured Dave Boyle, Manager of Supporters Direct and representatives from the Football Clubs of Swansea, Cambridge and Notts County and included several lively discussions.


In the meantime Ian had been requested to be facilitator at the Financial and Governance Surgeries held during both the morning and afternoon sessions where he was joined by members of Shareholders United from Manchester and Cobbetts solicitors where topics included Sharesave schemes, loan notes, Grant aid and Company Law. Advice was given and views exchanged with representatives from Coventry Dundee United Lincoln City and Exeter City among others.


The final session of the day was devoted to the Trust of the Season award won this year by Cambridge Fans United followed by Arab Trust (Dundee United) in 2nd place and Notts County trust in 3rd followed by the AGM that featured some amusing technical debates but which took up valuable drinking time!


However they finally made it to the Euston Flyer across the road for a few beers, to renew old acquaintances and hold further discussions with supporters from Darlington, Bradford City, Huddersfield Town, Exeter and many others before dashing back to the station for the train home.


Overall this was an enjoyable day the obvious highlight being the high regard that so many football supporters and other football bodies hold for the members of York City Supporters Trust for the actions achieved to date and the way we are looked upon as both an inspiration and guidance for others.

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