Here is a transcript from RUST's third fans forum.

Carlton Park Hotel 8 April 2002 7.30pm

Attendees&&.. Rust members and non-members (approx 250)
Guests&&&.. Brian Chappell, Trevor Smallwood

1. Welcome and Introductions
David Veal welcomed all attendees and introduced the panel, which included Mr Trevor Smallwood (RUFC Director) and Mr Brian Chappell (Rotherham Rugby Club and Radio Sheffield). Other panel members were the RUST steering group of Joanne Bott, Chris Dobbs, Richard Gaynor, Mike Jolly, Ashley Jones, Lee Rowbotham, Rob Shearing and DV., apologies from Craig Saunderson.

2. Treasurers Report
Rob Shearing (Treasurer) reported that there were now around 280 members. The target was to hit 300 by the AGM. He stated that there was a healthy bank balance but that more income was needed to enable the trust to support the football club in future. RUST membership represents around 5% of the main fan base which already compares to most other trusts (stop press&.current membership 311)

3. RUST Progress Report
Chris Dobbs (Chairman) thanked Trevor Smallwood for attending and provided attendees with a paper detailing the progress of RUST to date. (enclosed)

4. Presentation by Trevor Smallwood
Mr Smallwood explained that he had been a supporter of the club for 45 years and that he had produced a document identifying the way forward, which highlighted 3 key points:-

  1. The need for the club to stay in Division 1 and consolidate the position by strengthening the team, to ensure continued survival in the division.
  2. To retain the current management team.
  3. To develop the ground.

He then highlighted the progress, which he felt the board had made in the past three months:-

  1. Joining with the Rugby Club, who will play 14 or so games next season at Millmoor
  2. Seeing the Hull position filled by Jan Molby (not Ronnie Moore!).
  3. Looking at the possibility of building a new main stand based on the East Stand at West Bromwich Albion. This would have 7000 seats, 24 Executive boxes, bars, snack bars etc. Work was being undertaken to source funding for the £5 million project.

5. Questions and Answers
In answer to questions from the floor, Mr Smallwood said that he hoped that everything could be in place to commence work on the stand by December 2002, with completion anticipated in July 2003, subject to successful negotiations with ITV Digital. He hoped that this would be part of a bigger scheme to develop all areas of the ground in the longer term, concluding with a 20,000 capacity stadium. He explained that the main stand would need to be replaced as it is wooden and if the club remain in Division One, they would need to seat the Tivoli within 2 years of the end of this season.

Questions were asked about the funding for the new stand. My Smallwood stated that he hoped that £2 million could be accessed from the Football Foundation and that approximately £3 million would need to come from within the club or from loans against the income of the stand. The income would be generated through an increase in gates due to better facilities, revenue from bars and snack bars, executive boxes etc. Mr Brian Chappell and Joanne Bott spoke about the funding opportunities and the need to consider community needs. Mr Chappell also thanked Mr Smallwood for his refreshing ideas with an inspiring and well received contribution.

Mr Smallwood agreed that serious consideration would be given to disabled facilities in the new stand and agreed to discuss this with the RUDSA He also said that the club needed to work with the fans to consider how to accommodate anyone with season tickets in the Main Stand and Enclosure, whilst the work was underway.

In response to questions about the partnership with the Rugby Club, a hope was expressed that this may last for longer than the initial 12 months and that in the longer term, a new purpose designed pitch (such as at Huddersfield and Reading) could be laid to accommodate the additional usage.

In response to a question about whether or not the club was up for sale, Mr Smallwood stated that as far as he was aware, it was not. He did not know any details about the blocks of 20 shares that had been advertised at £3 each in the match day programme.

In response to questions RUST confirmed that there is no intention to foster prejudice for or against one type of control at the club or another, , purely wanting to see and support improvements at the club from whichever source, but that these improvements must happen and be seen to happen soon. One supporter pointed out that Mr Booth had started to listen to the supporters and all agreed that supporters should work with and support Mr Smallwood's plans. Another supporter complained about press treatment of Mr Booth, although a member of the press stated that Mr Booth would not speak to the media to give his views. Some other supporters felt it was time for change to a more balanced and widely shared structure for the club. Concerns were expressed by one fan about the contribution of other Directors. and a question was asked about the possibility of RUST providing supporter representation on the Board.

Issues were also raised about the cost of season tickets last summer and the subsequent discounts offered to non-season ticket holders in the community stand. Mr Smallwood agreed to take this back to the club. Concern was also expressed about the lack of good customer relations amongst some staff at the club.

Supporters voiced concerns about whether or not the current management team would remain at Millmoor. Mr Smallwood responded by stating that both Ronnie Moore and John Breckin were on good, long-term contracts and that the most important thing that could be done to encourage them to stay, was to show them that the club as a whole, was moving forward. Mr Smallwood stated that he was committed to working with them in their attempts to strengthen the team.

Concerns were expressed that promises about the strengthening of the squad and the development of the ground had not been fulfilled in the past and a question was asked about whether other members of the club board were in support of the ideas. Mr Smallwood said that it was his role to convince them (work with them to achieve progress?). All those attending, offered their full support for Mr Smallwood in his attempts to progress the plans with the Chairman.

Finally those attending the meeting asked Mr Smallwood to thank all involved at the club for their efforts this season and to wish Ronnie, John and the lads all the best for the final two games.

David Veal thanked Mr Trevor Smallwood and Mr Brian Chappell for their attendance and the Carlton Park hotel for their hospitality. The meeting was then closed at 9.50 pm.

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, please do not hesitate to contact any one of the steering group members.