The first Fans Forum of 2014 took place last night at St James’ Park, and there was an unexpected, and perhaps unwanted, guest last night who made their appearance known to the club. A number of disgruntled fans turned up to voice their discontent over a number of recent issues – namely the decision to remove the Newcastle United Supporter’s Trust from the fan’s forum, and to demand answers to questions that were posed to the club from fans back in November.
NUST had been granted a ‘permanent’ seat on the Fans Forum, but following the publication of a report of the first Fans Forum by NUST forum member Peter Fanning, the club felt that banning the only democratically constituted fans group was the best way to deal with the situation. What has transpired now is that the fan’s forum – designed to represent fan’s issues – is now loaded full of people who the club see fit to sit on it. It is arbitrary, undemocratic and non-representational of the fans of our club.
While the club feel that they can stifle the voice of the fans by banning our trust, banning our newspapers and treating us with contempt in general, it is heartening to see that some fans will simply not sit idly by and do nothing about it.
Representatives from both Time4Change and the Mike Ashley Out campaign lobbied the Fans Forum representatives in order to see the hard-hitting questions were answered.
As aforementioned, Time4Change posed a number of questions to the club back in November on a wide range of issues, and it will be interesting if the talking shop, ahem I mean Fans Forum, will address these questions.
Among the lobby group last night was Graeme Cansdale from the Mike Ashley Out campaign, and he decried the sheer lack of an open and honest relationship between the club and its fans when he said,
“The club is not open and transparent and we want the club to answer the questions that we have put to them. The fans need to stick together to show that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
The Fans Forum, which was introduced to improve the relationship and dialogue between the club and its fans, will never work. It has failed at the first hurdle and that is down to the club. The club has refused to allow the only truly representative fans group from sitting on the Forum, and until the Newcastle United Supporters Trust is reinstated to the Fans Forum it is nothing but a glorified talking shop filled with people who are more concerned with stroking their own egos as they sit and have ‘dialogue’ with the club than they are about properly representing the fans.
Will the club answer the question posed to them? More importantly, will they answer them honestly? If the fans want open and honest dialogue with the club, then they would be better off putting their energy into helping oust the fat controller from his ivory tower of contempt.