I think this is going to turn into a bit of a rant so I need to start by acknowledging my share of the blame. I was involved in the group that got Blues Trust started, which means I’m partly responsible for any weaknesses in the organisation. I think we all meant well and did our best but looking back I can see that there were some things that we didn’t do very well.
One of our faults was that we weren’t very good at sorting out the possible from the desirable. We spent too much time talking about things it would be good to do and not enough time considering if we had the resources to do them. Then, at the next meeting, we’d come up with reasons why we hadn’t done the things we’d decided should be done. The reason was often that nobody had had the time. We had jobs or other responsibilities, families, lives and too many other things to do.
We did, however, get the essentials done. With the help of Supporters Direct, we got through the legal formalities required to register as an Industrial and Provident Society. We persuaded some other people to join us and held our first annual general meeting, at which the first four elected members of our board were approved.
We had the broad outline of our purpose set out in our rules1 but we didn’t specify how we were going to attempt to achieve our goals. We thought that we needed to consult our members before we set out an action plan. That may have been the best policy at the start though I think we should have shown more leadership as time went on.
Since the AGM last October, I haven’t been so involved with the work of the trust. It wasn’t because I stopped believing in it but because I was busy with other commitments. This year I’ve been out of the loop so have had a chance to find out what Blues Trust looks like from outside the inner circle. And for me, it depends on the medium. Face to face at open meetings, board members are a nice bunch who seem to know what they are talking about and are willing to answer questions. Online, the view is more obscured.
OK, this is where the rant starts. I don’t want to see messages telling people to join the trust unless they are backed up by some reasons why people should join. This would have to be on the Blues Trust website; there isn’t room for reasons in a Tweet. I’d also like the trust to provide an honest appraisal of what the trust can and cannot do in the present situation. If, as I suspect, there really isn’t much fans can do to influence to whom and when the club is sold then I’d like the trust board members to be honest and admit that.
At times it feels like they are salesmen trying to sell me an idea (Join the trust!) rather than issuing a call to join a movement. Salesmen try to imply that their product is better than it really is; the trust board, by not mentioning all the difficulties, implies their task is easier than it really is. Those who proclaim a rallying cry, acknowledge the problems, admit their weaknesses and call on people to join them because their cause is just. They offer blood, toil, tears and sweat, not the chance of winning a signed shirt if you attend an open meeting.
They did publish some strategy proposals2 for the open meeting on June 23rd but the list seemed unrealistically long. I’d like to know what their priorities are and I’d like them to acknowledge that it is their job to set priorities. I do wish they’d delete that sentence from the FAQ page on their site that says, “It will be up to the Blues Trust membership as a democratic organisation to decide its priorities and success level indicators.” The way that democracy works in a trust is that members elect a board and the board makes decisions. If the members don’t like the decisions they can let the board know. If the board doesn’t listen to them, the members can vote in some different people at the next election or demand a special general meeting to get a policy changed. What’s the point of having a board if they don’t make decisions?
- Rule 3 states: The Society’s purpose is to be the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between the Club and its supporters and the communities it serves is encouraged and developed. The business of the Society is to be conducted for the benefit of the community served by the Club and not for the profit of its members.
- Open Meeting Strategy Proposals