From Man U, Newcast and Celtic to Bromsgrove, Enfield and Aylesbury there are Supporters Trusts setting up.

Here's the latest news from around the Trusts. Thanks to Supporters Direct.

ITV Digital, football and fraternité


It seems that English football has spent the last couple of months getting caught with its trousers down. Nothing new perhaps, but the ITV Digital farrago rumbles on and clubs across the land live with the thought that they could be the next to become financially undressed. Football and its demanding mistress finally seem to have realised that they may not, after all, be the most compatible of bedfellows.

Much has been said about the moral duty of Granada and Carlton to deliver on their promises and it has been good to see most of football united in its desire to recoup what is owed. But we shouldc certainly not be shocked that these two affluent media organisations are reneging on their deal. It comes as little surprise to those supporters who have been shoved continually from pillar to post at the behest of television companies, that those same companies are now revealed to have little or nothing of the game's real interest at heart.

The crisis does offer a real opportunity for football, for its clubs and governing bodies, to get their act together. Recent history, however, suggests that football supporters across the land should not hold their collective breath for the opportunity to be grasped. Rather than expecting moves toward a more equitable distribution of football's considerable annual income, it seems more likely that the fractious politics of the game, and the powerful vested interests, will continue to characterise the wider landscape.

Just a moment's reflection, though, would show that financial health at the lower regions of the pyramid, benefits even the most illustrious of clubs. Clubs rely on each other for players, for income, and they rely on each other for competition. It is little coincidence that the esteem in which the FA Cup is held has plummeted so dramatically, at a time when the competitive balance between clubs across divisions has been so clinically and deliberately disrupted.

In the midst of these stormy waters it has been good to see Supporters Direct getting further ecognition for a vision based on common sense, good governance and an appreciation that supporters might just have something positive to contribute other than an increase in the sale of pies. In fact, Ministers of the Crown are increasingly looking to Supporters' Trusts to help dig football clubs out of these deep and seemingly insurmountable holes, before the waves come crashing in.

In the wake of the collapse of ITV Digital, Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, told Parliament, "The government will work alongside football to provide practical help, largely through grassroots organizations and Supporters Direct, which has been very successful in establishing fans' trusts as a better way to manage clubs and helping clubs that have recently suffered difficulty".

The Secretary of State recognized the 'excellent work' of Supporters Direct and the need 'to link fans more directly with the financial security and future of their clubs.' Taking the game forward, for all those with a stake in the game, will require a significant collective effort.

It is reassuring that the work of Supporters Direct and the fans in general are seen as having a pivotal part to play. Indeed, after an annus horribilis, in which our national game has lurched from one embarrassing situation to another, the expansion of Supporters Direct and the growing number and influence of Trusts around the country has the potential to reinvigorate the domestic scene.

Such progress is promising, but it ultimately needs to be part of a broader sea change that sees clubs, governing bodies, supporters and also the players, working together to promote football as a sport first and a commercial opportunity second. We need to mould a game that knows how to balance income and expenditure, and one that recognizes that Mansfield has as much right to a football club as Manchester.

The French have been pretty good in recent years at producing a successful footballing nation. The coaches they have exported haven't been too bad either. Perhaps if all those involved in our own great domestic game, which has so much excitement and even greater potential, demonstrated a little bit more of that famous French fraternité, the benefits would be there for all of us, across the entire game, to enjoy.


Matt Holt
Supporters Direct

QPR1st celebrates its first year


www.qpr1st.co.uk

On April 4th, QPR1st staged its second rally, almost exactly a year after its first. The contrasts between the two were striking.

Then, 1,000 people filled Hammersmith Town Hall for a meeting that took place only weeks after QPR had gone into administrative receivership and at a time when the team was busily working towards relegation. Things really looked bleak for the club, which looked close to the end of the road. The 1,000 gathered heard a small group of enthusiastic speakers, with the welcome support of local MP Clive Soley and Mayor Andrew Slaughter, who were desperate to rally them to the cause.

The cause was the preservation of QPR via the formation of a football Supporters' Trust. No more, said the trust, should Rangers fans be peripheral to the thoughts of those in charge at the club. The club must return to its community.

The meeting bound Rs fans together in a way that I will never forget, giving the trust's interim committee an undeniable and authoritative mandate to get on with the job. Subsequently, we have held wellsubscribed elections for officers and we have established a paid-up membership of around 650. We represent our members to the club at regular meetings and we have become a regular conduit for the transfer of information, some official and some not so, to our members and to the broader fan-base.

The club has told us that the deal to take the club out of administration will include some form of fan representation, although it is yet to confirm the details.

This second meeting was different, not least because of the passage of time. The club remains in administration, although we are being promised weekly that its re-emergence into the real world is imminent. The team, meanwhile, despite being almost completely rebuilt using other clubs' castaways, was in the process of finishing a creditable eighth. QPR fans were far less anxious about the future, rightly or wrongly, taking the arrest of the team's decline as a sign that things are at last going in the right direction. Average attendances climbed from just above 10,000, in Division One, to touching 12,000 in Division Two.

About 750 returned to Hammersmith, to see on the stage some of the same enthusiasts, albeit older and wiser, plus the Mayor and Supporters Direct Managing Director Brian Lomax. Alongside them were the club's Chief Executive, David Davies, and our manager Ian Holloway, who gave an inspiring speech that clearly came right from the heart. Once again, two hours seemed to whistle by, ending in an enthusiastic reendorsement of all things QPR. For the QPR1st committee it was a great triumph and a big boost to morale.

After a year of hard work fighting to establish the Trust and, at the same time, badgering the club for information on its financial situation, I was not the only one to reach April feeling tired, jaded and more than a little futile. The meeting has helped all of us to recharge and re-focus.

As chair of QPR1st, I was somewhat apprehensive about holding a second big meeting. I had worried that people were less anxious about what was going on at the club and, consequently, would feel less of a need to attend. I was wrong about that and I am glad that our committee made the decision, prompted by Brian Lomax, to go ahead with the meeting.

I would recommend holding a meeting like ours to any of the other trusts that have sprung up since we started. Think big and ask people, who you know wouldn't dream of attending, to speak. This rally didn't just do us a pile of good. It sent those there home with hope rekindled and they passed on their experiences to friends who were unable to attend. Many left talking of joining QPR1st, whilst others signed up on the night.

Others will come on board.

And it did the club some good too, with David Davies gaining a hall-full of respect and with Ian Holloway heading rapidly towards deity-status for more than a few Rs fans.

David Price
QPR1st