(Friday 23rd April 2004)
Supporters Trust Wanderers supporters attending the proposed Supporters' Trust 'Open Meeting' on Monday 19th April voted by a majority in favour of its formation. The working party were mandated to register a trust accordingly and seek assistance from the public funded 'Supporters Direct' group. Concerns were raised over the timing of a Trust launch with respect to the proposals by the Football Club of a major constitutional change. However, following an open and constructive debate the vote was carried, 58 for, 15 against and 11 abstensions. This is an extended report from the meeting by

Keith Blagborough, one of six people on the working party, opened the meeting by explaining how the idea of a Supporters' trust at Wycombe had come about. He explained that Ivor Beeks (Football Club Chairman) had originally been contacted in March 2002 and this had led to meetings with Simon Monkman (Chief Executive at the time). However, according to the presentation these meetings didn't reach any formal conclusions and it was only since the proposed changes to the Football Club's constitution towards the end of 2003 that "spurred matters along". He went on to say "I must emphasise that the work we have done so far is only preliminary and any objectives are decided by the members of the Supporters' Trust, because a Trust, by definition, is democratic."

Francis Glenister, another person on the working party, explained how the Trust would fit in with either the current constitution or under one where shares have been issued. He added "A Supporters Trust can react to the outcome. So the Supporters' Trust is not itself a vehicle for deciding that one way or the other."

However, there were several concerns raised during the Question and Answer session about the timing of this proposal and why the Club were suddendly showing keen interest in its formation after nearly two years of minimial activity. It was an issue that was brought to a head when a statement from Supporters Direct was read out from the floor. It stated "Supporters Direct are worried that a Supporters' Trust could be seen as a lever to persuade Members of Wycombe Wanderers to vote with the football club's anticipated proposal to convert to a Public Limited Company at this time. Supporters Direct cannot support this as we believe that the Football Club should not convert and should remain as a democratic Member's Club." The statement concluded by saying "Supporters Direct would urge the organisers of this evening's meeting to use it to encourage members of the Football Club not to vote for any proposal to convert the football club to a PLC."

Francis Glenister responded by saying "Something that has surprised me this evening is that that somehow a Supporters' Trust , which is about broadening the base of people who can have a say, is being held up by some who clearly have an issue with the change of the constitution, as somehow it is a vehicle for that process." Keith Blagborough added the logic behind the timing was to be ready for whatever situation may arise, commenting "I feel very strongly that unless there is a Supporters Trust there to act to what happens then, that we are going to lose the initiative and if we have then got to go and sit down, set one up, time will have passed us by. It will be too late to react." Reg Rundle, a third member of the working party also stated "There is a role for a Supporters' Trust at Wycombe irrespective of what decision the members make at any EGM called. This is a supporters’ forum and we think it should be formed irrespective of future decisions of the current members club."

Having been given the mandate to form a Supporters' Trust, the working party will liase with Supporters Direct to register the Trust and work towards a launch meeting estimated to be towards the start of the 2004/5 season. This is likely to be after a vote by Football Club members on the change of constitution. The launch meeting would vote on objectives of the Trust dependent on the situation at the time but in the mean time supporters are being called to contact the 'working group' with their suggestions. Examples at the meeting included calling for the retention of the existing Limited by Guarantee constitution of the Football Club which allows supporter representation by default. There was also the suggestion that an objective could be to promote an increase in the membership of the Football Club beyond the current 500 figure.

The working party also called for volunteers to get involved in the formation and day to day running of the Trust (this included the need for a webmaster). Supporters are able to register their interest in joining the Trust and notifying any special skills by completing the form available through their dedicated website.

Find out more about the Wycombe Wanderers Supporters' Trust

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