Last month saw the launch of the first ever independent Supporters Trust at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wolves 1877 Trust. This is a welcome move away from the ‘closed shop’ Fans Parliament which drew criticism for its lack of representation and transparency. A small group of supporters have worked together over the past 6-8 months to set up the supporter’s trust, which is now fully operational and has over 100 members just weeks after launching.
A Supporters Trust is distinctly different from a supporter’s club or fans forum, with an emphasis on democracy. Those who run the trust and sit on the board will be elected by all members at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM). For Wolves 1877 Trust, the first AGM is scheduled for next summer, with those who were involved in the trust set up forming an interim board for the first year. Another important characteristic of Supporters Trusts is that they are completely independent from the club. The club have had no input into the set up or the running of the trust, they cannot control anything the trust do, unlike the fans parliament which was at the club’s discretion. The Trust has been set up in accordance with the Football Supporters Association (FSA) guidelines, and most important of all, gives Wolves fans a significant voice and voting right for all matters at the FSA. The trust is already playing an active role in the FSA’s Premier League Network Group as well as contributing to the Governments Fan-Led Review of Football.
Memberships are available at £5 per person, which is one of the cheapest membership fees of any supporter’s trust in the country. Many fans may question why there is a charge to join the trust, but it ensures that those who are going to contribute, and vote show an element of commitment by contributing to the running of the trust. Supporters Trusts are entirely self-funded through membership fees and are strictly not for profit organisations. For those who wish to have younger fans represented in the trust, a family membership is also available (2 Adults, 2 Children). Supporters Clubs can also join, with Telford Wolves, London Wolves and Irish Wolves having all engaged with the Trust at this early stage.
The Trust will represent all its members, and consult them through meetings, survey forums, social media posts and focus groups. There will be a vast array of chances for members to talk with those on the board of the trust and talk to the club directly. The key element of the supporter’s trust is consultation, discussion before the fact. There have been various issues arising at Molineux lately, most notably the change of membership scheme which no longer rewards the clubs most loyal members and instead charges them even more for the ability to attend games. This is just one example of an issue where the Trust will have structured dialogue with the club to ensure such a situation is not repeated. The club have agreed to consult with Wolves 1877 Trust, aligning with the Premier League rules for supporter consultation. One huge advantage of the supporter’s trust in comparison to the Fans Parliament is the independent over issues discussed, as the trust will be able to raise any issue with the club and ask the important questions, rather than discussing what the club would like to discuss.
The Trust held a very successful launch event at the Emerald Club last month. Attendance exceeded expectations and many left with the intention of becoming a member. There has been a positive response on social media too, but to make a real difference to the trust people must become a member. The Trust isn’t about those who run it or those who set it up, it is about its members. Members will dictate how useful it is, the trust is what fans make it to be.
To find out more, visit the website www.wolves1877trust.co.uk
To become a member, follow this link: https://www.wolves1877trust.co.uk/membership