Grimsby Town notes: Our ambition is to become more representative of our fan base

Thank you to everyone who came to the AGM on Thursday night, wrote Fan Elected Director Murry Toms on behalf of the Robins Trust in our programme notes for the Grimsby Town match on Tuesday

We were pleased with the way it went, outlining our ambitious plans to grow the organisation into something a little more representative of crowds we get here at Whaddon Road.

We spent our summer reorganising the team and talking to as many people as we possibly could about who we are, what we do well and what we don’t. Now the nights are drawing in we need to get on with it and start turning all of that positivity into action, and our annual meeting was a timely opportunity to share our ideas.

Let’s be honest, there aren’t many people that want to give up their Thursday night to attend an evening of formalities but it doesn’t have to be turgid, and we tried to approach it differently this time around. Our monthly get-togethers have been enjoyable so there’s no reason why our AGM shouldn’t be too – we’re football fans after all.

We have a team of skilled and enthusiastic people, each determined to make a difference to the Trust and ultimately the club. Unfortunately Louise Plumb was absent but the remaining 12 new board members were introduced on the night so that everyone is clear on who’s who, and what skills they bring. A few old faces, and plenty of new. And a good range of ages and backgrounds.

We aimed to spread the load between as many of the new faces as possible to break the monotony with a visual presentation of what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months. We heard from Tarran on how we’ve converted a further £10,000 into shares, taking our total investment in the club to £270,630 to remain the fourth largest shareholder.

Membership has risen by 42% since the end of the financial year at the end of May, but we feel that our current tally of 330 supporters is still way short considering the size of the regular crowds we get.

It’s ambitious, but we want 1,000 people to join us. At the moment we don’t even have a thousand followers on Twitter but we’re clear on what we want to do over the next 12 months so we believe we can hit that mark.

In short it’s all about greater representation and the community around the club.

For starters we’re going to give everything a lick of paint, and I stumbled through that bit. The look and feel of what we do has remained the same since 2005 and I don’t think anyone could argue that it isn’t now a bit tired.

We shared five options for the new logo in our programme notes for the Swindon Town game and since then over 42% of the responses in the public vote decided that ‘option A’ would best represent us in the future. Soon we’ll be redesigning all of our bits and pieces.

James Young shared our new ‘RISE’ manta, distilling well over 100 pages of utterly dull rules and regulations into one handy crib sheet so that supporters can be crystal clear on what the Trust does for them. It’s here to Represent, Influence, Serve and Encourage you, but if you head over to our website you’ll need less than two minutes to fully understand our role.

Dave Jennings has been busy on the commercial front with the clear brief of creating real value to the Robins Trust membership card. He acknowledged that there have been issues in the past, but we’re tackling those to make it so simple to join and renew. His conversations with local businesses have been fruitful and in time, we are looking to add a raft of exclusive offers and discounts for all.

Myself and Dave are also meeting with the Community Trust in a few weeks time to explore a way in which we can work with them. And of course, one of our founding principles is a guaranteed cup ticket and that hasn’t changed. Now the FA Cup has come back around, you never know who that might lead in January and beyond.

RISE: Represent, Influence, Serve, Encourage

How we will RISE. The Robins Trust will:

1. REPRESENT

  • Every single Robins Trust member and supporter of Cheltenham Town
  • Be a trusted point of contact for every Cheltenham Town fan
  • Be open, inclusive and democratic, to ensure all fans are represented

2. INFLUENCE

  • Ensure that the needs and wants of all supporters are respected by the Football Club board, through our Fan Elected Director
  • Encourage the Football Club to put the views of the supporters first and foremost in every decision they make.
  • Ensure that the Fan Elected Director is open, accountable and communicates regularly with all supporters

3. SERVE

  • Every supporter, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, disability
  • The community of Cheltenham Town fans
  • The community where our Football Club is based

4. ENCOURAGE

  • The Football Club to better serve the community it represents
  • The Football Club to achieve excellence on the pitch by developing home-grown footballers for the first team
  • A friendly and vibrant fan culture, in order to improve numbers and atmosphere

With the aim of:

1. Ensuring the fans have a significant say in how their club is run
2. Protecting the Football Club’s long-term future by securing a significant shareholding
3. Making the club robust, secure and able to attract the right kind of investment to improve the club on and off-field.
4. Have a growing say in how the club meets it’s on and off-field objectives, through the work of our Fan Elected Director
5. Growing our membership to at least 1,000 members, ensuring that the Trust is as representative as it can be to the needs of every single supporter

Our Trust: AGM summary

The Robins Trust outlined its ambitious plans to reach 1,000 members at Thursday night’s AGM at Whaddon Road.

The organisation’s annual meeting was well attended as the new look team set about sharing its vision for the future. Here we summarise the evening’s agenda.

Accounts

Firstly Acting Chairman Tarran Wilson reported that £10,000 had been invested in Cheltenham Town Football Club in the past 12 months, talking the total investment since 2005 to £270,630 (in return for 179,877 shares).

The Robins Trust is now the fourth largest shareholder in the club and, encouragingly, membership has risen by 42% since the end of May to 330 people.

Rebranding

Next Murry Toms, the Fan Elected Director, talked about the proposed rebrand. He said that the feedback we have received over the summer is that we need to be clearer on what we stand for, and how we publicly tell that story.

He added that there were several examples of similar organisations that we admire but many of those were borne from crisis, leaving us with an identity issue. As a Trust we’re clear that representation and community are our two key pillars, putting them at the heart of everything we do.

With a journalist (James Young), web developer (Dave Beesley), marketing (Jack O’Neill) and digital production skills (Murry) now within the board set-up, we will continue to improve our communications and the design of our assets to resonate with the fanbase.

New logo

One element of the rebrand was the decision to create a new logo, which was decided by the membership. Five options we presented a week previously, and by the end of the evening it was announced that 42% of the responses voted for option A. From today onwards, that is our new logo.

RISE

James Young went on to discuss a clearer and more concise way of explaining the Trust’s relationship with supporters and the wider community. Working with Dave Jennings and Louise Plumb, they had created a simple mantra called ‘RISE’ to make it easier for fans to understand how the Trust works for them.

What is RISE?

Membership offering

Dave Jennings discussed the membership offering and the steps he has taken to increase its value to supporters. He acknowledged there have been problems but confirmed that it is a priority to resolve those. It needs to become easier to join and we have begun a process, led by Dave Beesley, to explore subscription solutions to work both online and offline.

Dave Jennings has had a number of conversations with local businesses to offer discounts and offers to Trust members, and talked about a focus on creating relevant events to further improve the value of membership. He also reminded members that they are guaranteed cup tickets, a founding principle from 2005.

Look back at the summer

A short overview of activity during the summer followed. The Trust organised this year’s hugely successful Open Day, enabled supporters to take part in the away shirt launch with players from across the club and played a major role in bringing the mens and ladies clubs closer together.

The Robins Trust Speedy Skips Challenge has proved successful, and we invited people who wanted to take part in the half-time initiative to get in touch. Finally, we talked about the popular ‘Referees’ evening and how this is the type of event we want to create more of in the future.

New board elected

Then the new look board of 13 people (above) was introduced to the membership and subsequently voted in, acknowledging the notable effort of the previous incumbents in establishing the organisation and representation on the board of the football club. We hope to build on their legacy to take the Trust to the next level and that they will play a part in that.

Subscription pricing reduced to £5

A motion was also passed to reduce the subscription fee from £12 to £5 in order to drive recruitment and better represent the fan base. In 2005 our clear aim was to achieve a place on the board, but Bryan Jacob’s magnificent gesture enabled us to achieve that so the goalposts have shifted. With our financial obligations to the club satisfied until the end of the 2021-22 season it was agreed that we need to concentrate on growing the membership.

An entertaining Q&A with Gary Johnson and Paul Baker followed, capping a really positive evening.

In short we want to improve the membership offering and make it easier for supporters to join, both financially and emotionally. We have a new energy and ambitious plans, and believe we can achieve our targets if we all work together.

Download our AGM presentation

Have your say on the future of the Robins Trust

A new look, a new board and a new mission for The Robins Trust will be revealed next week.

The new team of board members will outline a clear new message as well as a fresh new look at the Trust’s AGM on Thursday, October 12 (7pm).

Following Clive Gowing’s decision to stand down as Fan Elected Director and the election of Murry Toms as his successor, the Trust has decided to stop and take stock.

A new group of prospective board members has been assembled and they have been speaking to a wide range of people, exploring how the organisation is viewed by everyone at the club. 

Trust FED Murry Toms explained: “Over the past 12 years the Trust’s role and ambitions have changed. 

“Following the landmark investment enabled by Bryan Jacob’s legacy, the Trust’s long-term ambition to have a Fan Elected Director was achieved and now it is time to refocus.

‘The new board has decided to channel efforts into making the Trust more representative of the fanbase and the wider community.

“Our aim is to significantly increase our numbers and reach at least 1,000 members.

“The new board have developed a new plan for the Trust going toward and some significant changes will be outlined at the AGM.”

Play your part in the future

Before the AGM takes place, the new look board are asking all Robins supporters to have their say on a new Trust logo and brand.

There are three ideas for a new logo to choose from, with the most popular becoming the Trust’s new brand.

“We have been working with a local designer – and Whaddon Road regular – to produce a fresh new look,” Toms added.

“We know there’s a lot more work to be done, but we have assembled a talented and committed group of supporters who each have a role to play in moving the Trust forward.

“It has been great for us all to talk to so many people around the club over summer about what they think it means to them, but now’s the time to turn the conversations into action.

“At Thursday’s AGM we hope to share some of those ideas, and encourage more people to take part in the process. 

“This vote is a small but important step to everyone feeling a sense of ownership of what we’re doing as fans for the club.”

Robins Trust AGM – full details

The AGM will be held at the side bar at Whaddon Road on Thursday 12 October, starting at 7pm.

As part or the Agenda there will be a vote on subscription pricing and we will announce our new logo. 

Full details about the AGM here

Full details of next week’s Robins Trust AGM and relaunch


The Robins Trust will relaunch with a new look and new ambitions next week.

Since the Trust was established in 2005, great successes have been achieved.

More than £250,000 has been invested in Cheltenham Town Football Club, securing Robins fans an elected representative on the club’s board of directors.

Much of this success can be credited to the hard work of a long-standing Trust board, and especially down to the efforts of outgoing Trust chairman Clive Gowing.

With Clive standing down as Chairman and Fan Elected Director, and with the election of Murry Toms as FED, the Trust felt it was time for a fresh new look.

Murry explained: “Since I was elected to serve as FED in April, the Trust has been preparing for a relaunch, aimed at making the next step.

“A decade ago, the idea of having a Fan Elected Director was something of a pipe dream – that all changed when the Trust received the fantastic legacy from our founding secretary Bryan Jacob.

“The role and responsibilities of the Trust changed when we achieved our long-held aim of securing a Fan Elected Director, and now the Trust must change to follow suit.

“At our AGM on October 12, we will outline some exciting changes the Trust will be making with the aim of achieving some ambitious new goals.

“We will be electing a new Trust board and proposing a change to our membership subscriptions that we believe will make the Trust become more representative, and more open than ever before.

“What has been achieved by the hard-working board since inception back in 2005 has been nothing short of remarkable.

“Our aim, now, is to build on that outstanding base and make the Robins Trust better than ever.”

Manager Gary Johnson and Chairman Paul Baker will be joining us for a Q&A afterwards, which will kick-off at 7.45pm.

The evening is open to all supporters of Cheltenham Town, although existing Trust members ONLY are able to vote on each of the items on the agenda.

With only two members of the existing Board standing for re-election, an election to fill the remaining places on the board will be held, with nominations open to all Trust members.

Any existing Trust member willing to stand for election to the Trust Board, must inform the acting chairman by Thursday, September 28 (5pm).

In the event that there are more nominees than available places on the Board (16), details will be published of an election prior to the AGM.

  • The AGM will be held on Thursday, October 12 (7pm) at Cheltenham Town Football Club (main bar).

AGENDA:

1. To receive and approve the accounts for the year ending May 31, 2017

2. Robins Trust 2.0 – Relaunch of the Trust

3. Elections to the Society Board
Because of a number of resignations over the previous year, an entirely new Trust Board will be elected to serve for a two-year period. Nominations to stand for the Trust board must be received by the Trust, within two weeks of the date of the meeting. In the event that applications for the board exceed the maximum number permissible (16) by the Trust’s rules, an election will be held with details published prior to the meeting.

4. Change to Trust membership subscriptions
To approve or reject the following proposal in regards to membership subscriptions: (One member, one vote. Straight majority).

1. OPTION ONE:
In order to make the Trust more accessible and to encourage greater membership numbers, Adult Trust subscriptions will be reduced to £5

a. All memberships to run from June 1 each year, in line with accounting dates,
regardless of date joined.
b. Family subscriptions will be withdrawn
c. All existing year-long memberships will be honoured for the term of the
initial subscription.
d. New members joining, if vote approved, will run until May 31, 2018.

2. OPTION TWO:
Keep the current subscription costs and renewal process

5. Open forum