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Supporters Trust - Rebate response proves need for change

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:27 06 July 2010

Norwich City have been urged to seriously consider allowing a democratically-elected fan on to the board of directors. The Norwich City Supporters Trust, which campaigns for supporter recognition among the top brass, says the response to the season ticket rebate plea from Carrow Road proves the need for change.

Norwich City have been urged to seriously consider allowing a democratically-elected fan on to the board of directors.

The Norwich City Supporters Trust, which campaigns for supporter recognition among the top brass, says the response to the season ticket rebate plea from Carrow Road proves the need for change.

Two thirds of City's fans opted to claim their rebate following relegation to League One - with the rest forfeiting a total of almost £360,000. With director Michael Foulger matching that, it means manager Bryan Gunn has an extra £700,000 in his transfer kitty.

But while the Trust says they are surprised at the large numbers claiming their rebate, they believe it is a clear message of dissatisfaction from supporters.

In a statement released yesterday, the Trust's board said: “We have a measure of sympathy and respect for those directors invested heavily in the club who now find they are holding a rapidly declining asset.

“The Trust publicly praised them for the speedy appointment of the new chief executive and imminent appointment of new directors, but it is obvious that the fans perceive these same directors as having passed up opportunities to introduce fresh money and new blood.

“It appears that 63.3pc of over 18,000 season ticket holders have sent their message to the board and it remains to be seen how much this will damage the long term prospects of the club.

“Both existing and new directors will feel added pressure following the fans' reaction. It is now time for the board to re-connect with supporters by examining their relationship with the fans and, in the absence of a financial 'white knight', learns lessons from models both in La Liga and the Bundesliga as well as those closer to home.

“For the first time in half a century our beloved football club will be plying their trade in the third tier of English football and amongst this seasons opponents two clubs Exeter and Brentford are owned by their fans.”

The Trust last year passed the £25,500 mark in shares owned and has urged season ticket holders to consider helping them buy more and thereby give fans a voice.

“The Trust believes we have a scheme which would allow the club to regain expected team building income but also strengthen the fans input into the club by making the fans a major shareholder,” said chairman Paul Bond.

“If every season ticket holder reclaiming their rebate joined the supporters' trust and donated their refund, the Trust would invest and hold a significant fan-based stake in the club.

“The Trust believes such action by a large proportion of the 63.3pc of season ticket holders would give the fans the second or third largest shareholding in the club and one that would endure.

“With such a large number of members in the Trust, the board would find it impossible to ignore the voice of fans. Almost certainly, from that size of membership, there should emerge suitable candidates with the necessary business experience to become a valuable member of the football club board and an important spokesperson for grass roots fans.

“These candidates would be democratically elected by the full membership of the Trust before receiving our nomination.

“It remains to be seen whether Michael Foulger is willing to apply his previous generous offer to income achieved by this route.

It is often said that fan directors can only work in the lower leagues, well that is where we are and we believe it is time for the club to seriously consider our request for a democratically elected fan on the board of Norwich City Football Club.”

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