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Town Trust Launched
Town Trust Launched
Friday, 11th Jul 2003 11:06

Ipswich Town First, the new Independent Supporters Trust, was launched last night at a meeting held at the Novotel.

Around 200 fans turned up to support the launch which was chaired by Anglia TV's Stuart Jarrold. The meeting kicked off with a short film made especially for the occasion by Town fan David Standen.

Ipswich Town First acting chairman Carl Day gave a speech as did Simon Binns from Supporters Direct, the Government-funded organisation charged with helping fans organise Trusts.

Town legend Kevin Beattie was in attendance while Roger Osborne, Russell Osman, John Scales, Jason Cundy, James Scowcroft and Laurie Sivell are amongst the players backing the Trust.

To read more on the Trust and to download membership forms visit their website at http://www.ipswichtownfirst.co.uk

class="storytext">Carl Day's speech from last night outlined what the Trust is aiming to achieve:

We are a room full of relative strangers here this evening, but one thing unites us – a love and passion for Ipswich Town Football Club. Some here have even played on the hallowed turf and created the memories that the rest of us share, and their presence this evening is especially appreciated.

Our beloved club has been the backdrop to all our lives; as children we dreamed of playing for it, as spectators we have made every pass and scored every goal, our social life revolves around the fixtures, our partners are either fellow fans or long-suffering and tolerant (or perhaps not on some occasions!).

I hope that David Standen's excellent short film has stirred memories of happier times in the club's history. I know it has for me.

The events of the last year or so have been hard to bear. It has felt as if a member of our own family has been in the midst of a major crisis.

We have had to watch as the club slipped out of the lucrative promised land of the Premiership at the worst possible time.

Then, as each subsequent month unfolded, we saw the financial state of the club appearing to crumble around us, Town eventually falling into administration – surely this has been the darkest period in the club's history. The old line about a crisis at Town being when the white wine ran out in board room now seeming a bit of a sick joke.

Out of these feelings, frustrations and plain desire not to let our club just become a memory or a just name in the history books like Accrington Stanley or Maidstone, came the embryonic stages of the formation of the Supporters Trust, Ipswich Town First, which we're launching here tonight.

Fortunately for us, the Supporters Trust movement was already in existence to guide and encourage us, and we have learnt from the numerous other Trusts and the routes they have previously pursued. Some of the stories of the way they have successfully helped their clubs have been inspirational.

Our club, thankfully, is now out of administration, but don't be fooled, the road ahead could still be fraught with danger, and this is the time the club needs every supporter to stand by it.

If that's the case, why do we need a Trust, I hear you ask?

We can either chose to maintain the status quo and continue to moan and groan about the current state of the club to no avail or we can take positive action and empower ourselves. As supporters to be proactive and constructive in, what is essentially, the rebirth of Ipswich Town Football Club

We as supporters have an opportunity available to us right now that we have never previously had. With the money leaking away from the game, the transition of power is returning to the supporters.

And at Ipswich Town we have a particularly unique opportunity for us, the club's supporters, to involve ourselves at the very heart of the club. The misery and depression of administration give us a chance to change the ownership of the club forever. But we can only do this by unifying via the Trust.

The share issue, which the club made an announcement on yesterday, will allow fans to buy shares, both through the Trust and as individuals. The Trust, over the next few months will look to raise funds through a variety of methods in order to increase its potential stake in the club.

In addition to membership fees and generous donations from individuals, of which we've already received several, we are looking for local businesses to get involved in the Trust. Football clubs are as much about the communities they serve as anything else, something which cannot be emphasised strongly enough.

As well as the Trust itself buying a stake, individuals who buy shares in the club can proxy their votes to the Trust, giving those shares real power. The lone voice of a fan with the minimum shares will never be heard.

But, if pooled along with thousands of other people's £200 of shares, then a stronger, louder, more powerful voice can be heard and can make a difference. We've seen this happen at other clubs.

At Leicester their Supporters Trust has been given the promise of elected supporter representation on the new board. And at Watford the Trust invested heavily in their recent share issue and now has a large amount of influence. Elsewhere other Trusts have even ended up running their clubs.

Elected supporter representation is one of the core aims of Ipswich Town First, and so far we have had a sympathetic response to the idea from the club. Three members of the committee recently met with the chairman and chief executive and a path towards supporter representation was tentatively proposed, something which should be seen as a first positive step.

Who would represent us supporters on the board if things develop as we hope they will? That's for the membership of the Trust to decide, based on the candidates within the Trust. Any club's support has individuals within it who are skilled in innumerable areas and Town is no different.

As we found when it was proposed that a film be put together for this meeting, whatever the task, we have at least one person capable of doing the job well. The same goes for board membership. Our club's support has individuals within it as experienced in running companies as any board member of any football club anywhere in the country.

By pooling and combining our resources in a body which reflects, embraces and represents our views, we, the supporters of Ipswich Town, can put ourselves right at the heart of the club.

Our aims and objectives are clear, the Trust is not about individuals, it's about how we as supporters can have a say in the future of, and best benefit, the club we love.

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