Trust contribution to PLC AGM 2017 re Fans Forum

Published on Thursday 16th November, 2017 by Celtic Trust

I am responding to this report on behalf of the Celtic Trust, who were the proposers of the Resolution which set up the Fans Forum.

Can I begin by saying that we at the Trust are pleased that, what the Club calls the Fans Forum, has been successful. We welcome any extension of communication between the club and supporters as that is one of our main aims as an organisation and of the supporters' trust movement as a whole.

Indeed, it was the Celtic Trust who first suggested the idea of what became known as the Road Shows, which in 2010 were held in various parts of Scotland, England and Ireland and gave supporters the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Club over the summer/early autumn of that year. But despite assurances that these would be annual events they have, regrettably, never been repeated.

The Forum as currently operating is along the lines of these events, which seem to be popular, and we would encourage the Club to continue with them, and indeed extend them as long as fans find them useful. But convening them certainly did not require a resolution to an AGM.

So, this is not the format, which our then chairman, Joe di Paola, proposed at last year's AGM and which was passed by a large majority at that meeting. Last year for the first time, in the history of the Trust, the Club indicated that it was prepared to support a resolution which the Trust proposed to an AGM. The wording of that resolution was agreed only after a long period of discussion which involved meetings, telephone conversations, drafting and re-drafting, and although we had to compromise in what we really wanted, we were prepared to do so to achieve an agreement which the Board accepted and then recommended that shareholders support, as we saw it as a very positive step forward in Club/supporter relations.

We accepted that the Forum could not be decision making, but we strove to devise a format in which genuine consultation could take place.

What was agreed was a much smaller meeting with representatives of the recognised supporters organisations (we identified 7) and a similar number of representatives from the Club. Now, while the choice whether or not to join an organisation is a personal one it is only in the context of an organisation that a representative can be held accountable to a body of the support. An individual represents only his or her own views and therefore their opinions are exactly that, individual.

However, we were aware of, and wanted to take advantage of, the wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience which exists amongst the Celtic support and therefore we wanted provision for individuals and organisations to be invited to the meeting 'from time to time' depending on the agenda. Note that phrase, for it is very important and we had to fight hard to have it included. That much smaller number of people would allow issues to be explored in the necessary depth.

What we got, however, was a group of 40-50 fans, picked at random following a notice on the Club's website, and as everyone here will recognise, within a meeting of that size of it is not possible to have an in-depth discussion that reaches a conclusion.

The Trust entered into this whole process in good faith and, despite misgivings, maintained that good faith by attending the first meeting. What we found was in effect a question and answer session.

Presentations were given and questions were taken from round the room but could not be followed up or discussions continued.

The flow of information was one way - from the Club to the fans - and that is certainly not the consultative process we envisaged, as in that setting input from the floor can only be piecemeal and sporadic.

I repeat what I said previously, that format has its uses and should continue, but alongside of, not instead of, what was proposed and passed at last year's AGM.

So, Mr Chairman we are calling on the Club to implement the resolution which was passed by a large majority at last year's properly constituted AGM.

We suggest that the Club recognises that the terms of the 2016 resolution have not been met, and that, work on implementing these, in full, should begin as soon as possible.


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