Here is a transcript from RUST's first official Fans Forum, which was held at the Carlton Park Hotel on 4th October 2001

Fans Forum Transcript:
The first 'official' fans forum since the launch of RUST was held on the 4th October at the Carlton Park Hotel, Moorgate, Rotherham. The meeting was designed to provide all who attended, with an opportunity to express their views, opinions and concerns relating to RUFC and in the light of current dissatisfaction and confusion with the off-field activity of RUFC, it was expected to be a highly charged meeting - and that was the case!

Over 100 fans attended, both RUST members and non-members alike eager to put forward their view. The current RUST steering group of Chris Dobbs, Craig Saunderson, David Veal, Richard Gaynor and Rob Shearing along with Brian Chapple of Radio Sheffield made up the panel. It is key to mention that Mr Booth was invited to attend but declined on this occasion. However the trust has received a letter from the chairman apologising for not being able to attend and wishing us well with the meeting.

After brief introductions by Chris Dobbs and Craig Saunderson, the meeting got underway with David Veal acting as meeting chair to ensure everyone was able to put their point across and answers wherever possible could be provided. Some of the main talking points were displayed via projector, which included:

  • Tickets
  • Ground Improvements
  • New Signings
  • Season Ticket Policy
  • Proposed Takeover
  • R.U.S.T
  • Seating / Stewarding

The objective of the meeting was to take points about the above, and other issues from fans so that they could be presented back to the club in a constructive and valid manner. It was also a mechanism to allow fans to provide feedback, ideas and opinions on RUST and how it could serve fans better in the future - "the steering group are fans also who have lots of ideas and opinions - but not all the ideas and opinions, and need as much input from other fans as possible to make it a success!"

The meeting also saw the issue of the first RUST fans survey, which is intended to enable us to compile some information on supporters views to add to the discussions with the club later.(over 100 were handed in)

The salient points of the meeting are detailed below:

1) What happened with the proposed takeover of the club by the Ron Hull consortium?
- No-one other than Ron Hull and/or Ken Booth knows why the takeover failed, however Ron Hull was extremely disappointed as negotiations had reached a very late stage..
- It was pointed out that this consortium were not around when the club was in the third division.
- It was mentioned that Ken Booth may want to sell - that is however unsubstantiated at this moment in time.

2) Why are the club so secretive about their finances and very bad at communicating with fans?
- It was felt that Phil Henson is a very poor communicator and is not cut out for a Chief Executives role.
- Public relations is something that the club are very bad at also.

3) How many season tickets were bought (new and renewed) before Ronnie signed and after Ronnie signed?
- The fans feel very strongly that they have been ripped off, particularly in regard to children's season tickets.
- The fans feel that the club cannot fill the ground when it should be filled, particularly with more children (who are the future of the club), and can not justifiably promote reduced ticket prices for single games due to the exhorbitant cost of season tickets in the first place.

4) RUST meetings need to be well advertised to gain more support.

5) Progress reports and better communication from RUST to the fans needs to be put in place.
- It was stated that a regular article will be appearing in the match day programme.
- Full communication and progress to members will be provided either by letter or e-mail and have a membership secretary to do the job as effectively as possible.
- It was also mentioned that contact details of all the RUST steering group members will be provided as quickly as possible to ensure visibility and accessibility for fans with RUST.

6) Why can't the club get the seating policy right?
- Many fans buying single tickets for games have been seated in season ticket holders seats and similarly double booking of seats is taking place leading to anger and confusion between fans.

7) Why were 10,000 tickets available for the Sheffield Wednesday game and only 8500 sold?
- It was stated that 2000 tickets had been provided to Ticketmaster, only for 11 to be sold and the remainder returned on the day of the match.

8) Why have attendances been so poor when the majority of games this season are 'big games'?
- This is mainly due to the recent and ongoing problems with ticket sales, and the much increased cost of taking children to games.
- It was stated also that when games are grouped, single match tickets can now be purchased by RUST members upon production of their membership card.

9) Why weren't the majority of fans chanting for "Boothy out" at recent matches?
- Chanting negatively distracts players and we should be giving Ronnie and the players our full support at all times!
- It was stated that chanting achieves very little apart from alienating even further, the person or people who it is aimed at.

10) Why has policing been so poor so far this season?
- They seem to be unable to cope with the numbers of away fans particularly as they have only had to deal with small number of fans in total up until now.
- It was accepted that policing is not necessarily a club issue.

11) Is the objective of RUST to get on the board of directors?
- The overall objective is to get fan representation on the board but we need as much support both in terms of number of members and finances, as possible.
- It was stated that this may be difficult to achieve but something that RUST would not shy away from.

12) Could RUST implement a 'suggestion scheme' as most employers do the same thing?
- This is very definitely something that will be discussed at the next steering group meeting. It is not necessarily if we will, but more how we will do it that will be the main talking point.
- It was suggested that all at the meeting add their suggestions at the bottom of the survey form handed out.

COMMENT - Please see the Your Suggestions page!

13) Will Gerry Somerton be kept informed of all RUST progress?
- Yes, on a regular basis, and he is happy to provide a RUST column in the Advertiser.

14) Can we get Ron Hull to the next fans forum?
- Again, it will be an item on the agenda for the next steering group meeting.

15) RUST needs to attract more business/corporate members who can provide significant investment.
- This is something very definitely in the business plan and is a medium term aim of RUST.
- In order to achieve this, we need lots of fans behind us to gain credibility with businesses as it is very difficult to obtain funding from them in normal circumstances.
- Again, this is a difficult challenge for RUST but one that we will try to achieve.
- At the moment business has provided sponsorship fo events and printing on a one-off basis.

16) Why is the money from the car park not going on buying new players as it was originally advertised for?
- Money from the car park also has to go on players wages, as in fact does Mayday.

17) It was suggested that a meeting with Mr Booth should be arranged with one or two members of the RUST steering group to initiate discussions.

18) Ticketing and club liaison issues:
- Portsmouth game is £5 entry into the community stand - will this be carried forward to other fixtures. If so people with season tickets will be out of pocket and extremely angry.
- Why does the club not provide tickets to local schools so they can increase support from children (the future support of the club!)
- Why do Nottingham Forest provide coaching staff at Laughton School?
- Why are season ticket prices higher than those of SWFC and SUFC?
- Advertising of tickets for matches should be well placed in the Rotherham Advertiser and Rotherham Star - something that SWFC do very well.
- We should have a big electronic scrolling sign outside Millmoor to clearly advertise forthcoming games!
- Ticket office is not well signed which means it is difficult to find particularly for infrequent visitors to the ground.
- Ticket office opening hours are during normal working hours which means it is very difficult for people to obtain tickets as they are working - one suggestion is that the ticket office should have extended opening hours on selected days to give fans the opportunity to buy tickets and maybe the club could actually sell more tickets.
- A proper seating plan should be put in place to remove the confusion of double booking seats.
- In order to fill the ground, schemes should be implemented e.g. kids for a quid, but a discount or preferential scheme should be put into place for existing season ticket holders so they will not be out of pocket.
- Investigation by RUFC should be made into other club's schemes/discount structures etc.
- A family turnstile should be introduced to allow parents and children to access the ground through one turnstile rather than having to go through separate turnstiles at the moment - which is stressful and does not create the right mood before a game.
- A discount structure should be put in place for students - again this would help to fill the ground.

19) Is the RUST membership fee too much?
- It was decided that £10 was a reasonable fee in light of the ongoing costs associated with running the Trust. However, it was stated that the steering group do not claim any monies and all venues, such as the Carlton Park Hotel and Magna are obtained either at a significantly reduced rate, are sponsored or are free.
- The steering group are trusted to ensure the best use of all monies coming into RUST and must consult members before any monies can be paid out (excluding running costs).

20) Can RUST obtain a lottery grant or sponsorship?
- RUST already have monetary support from Supporters Direct which in itself is lottery funded.

21) Can RUST obtain a ticket allocation for a prestigious match and sell them as part of gaining new membership?
- It is something that will be discussed at the next steering group meeting.

22) What happened to the plans for a new stand on Millmoor Lane?
- This is something that will be put to the club.

23) Mr Booth pledged in the first programme of the season that the club would communicate well with the club - why has this not materialised?
- Again this is something that will be put forward to the club.
- It was also mentioned that a customer charter had been put in place by the club but they are far from achieving the goals that had been set out.

After a 3 hour meeting, proceedings came to a gradual close. It seemed that the majority of people were happy with what the Trust had achieved so far and were fully supportive of it's short, medium and long term objectives.

From this meeting, all points raised will be put to the club and responses will be communicated to all members. All information from the fans survey questionnaire that was available to fill in before the meeting, will be collated and also presented to the club. This will then be used as a yardstick to see how the club is responding to fans views.

Comment - Please see the Surveys page

The RUST steering group would like to thank all that took the time to attend the meeting. If you have any more suggestions or want further information about RUST, the fans survey questionnaire or membership, please do not hesitate to contact any one of the steering group members.