My name‘s Ben. I‘m a 21 year old journalism student at the University of Glamorgan in Cardiff and am using this blog as an opportunity to showcase who I am as a professional and as a person.
Since the beginning of my degree, I have used this website to show my abilities in both football writing and general journalism, with it being an outlet for me to show any project work I‘ve completed.
As well as any university work, I also have experience in Journalism from work placements with professional companies such as the BBC and also my local newspapers, The Plymouth Herald and the Tavistock Times Gazzette. I have experience in doing Radio journalism and TV journalism with BBC South West. I have completed work to a professional standard that has led to me being broadcast on local radio and having my writing printed in numerous editions of newspaper.
Date Added: 20/01/14
Last Checked: 30/10/15
Date Updated At Last Check: 06/03/14
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Plymouth Argyle: The Importance of the Trust-Board Relationship
Posted on March 6, 2013
I never joined the Argyle Fans’ Trust. I just didn’t see the point. It may seem strange that someone who staunchly supports Plymouth Argyle never looked to join a group seeking active involvement with the club, but I never felt the need to cough up a tenner.
Two years on and I still don’t regret my decision. It always seemed like people jumped on the Trust bandwagon because they thought it was the only thing that could help save the club. Like they thought they could have a direct influence on the way the club operated. Well that all went pear shaped in January, when the trust politely declined the share offer of 20% made to them by the board.
It was the best and worst decision the Trust have ever made. By declining that 20% offer, they ruined lost their chance of having a stronger input, although they are assessing alternative options. But in truth, Fans’ trusts and supporters’ groups have no place in the boardroom. The club would be ignorant and naive not to listen to fan groups and take on board the opinions of the supporters, but to have them directly influencing the running of the club would be a mistake.
The passion and pride fans bring is fantastic… on the terraces, but important decisions need to be made by experienced business heads, one’s who know the in’s and out’s of not only a running a business, but a football club. Whether we already have that is debatable given James Brent’s relative inexperience, but our directors together are better placed to make decisions than the fans. Unfortunately, fans should stick to what they do best – supporting the team. At professional level, mixing business and interest would be a dangerous game to play.
Looking just down the A38, it is clear to see a fans trust running a club can work. Exeter have done it successfully. When they sunk to conference level, the fans trust purchased 75% of the club and that model has worked since and appears to be working well still. However, when Argyle were on the brink of administration – with the level of debt they had accumulated – it was no time for the Fans’ Trust to be taking control. James Brent was the sensible, and realistically, the only option. Should their come a time when the Fans Trust is the best and realistic option, then and then only should they be the influential majority.
Now maybe my attitude towards the trust is a bit cold and possibly somewhat naive, but the most important thing is for the trust to push the club. To make sure the fans do get their voices heard. Whilst I believe fans should not make the decisions they have every right to influence them. In fact if the Trust didn’t do that, there would be no point in their existence.
However if they are to do that, it needs to be done with care and thought. The timing of last week’s statement was done with neither. Days before the biggest match of the year, the trust released a statement asking for more direction from the board. It was ill-timed, very ill-timed in fact. At that point what was needed was togetherness, not finger-pointing and squabbling.
Initially, I wondered what more direction they were looking for? The board made their move on New Year’s Day when Carl Fletcher was dismissed as the manager and replaced a week later with John Sheridan. Since his appointment results have improved, even if performances have been poor. The victory against Barnet on Saturday was the first time we’ve looked like a solid team, with belief and fight still left in us despite two seasons of fighting at the wrong end of the table. Barnet was the biggest game of the season, a game we had to win, so you have to wonder what possessed the Trust to bring out such a statement days before it?
The Argyle board hardly showered themselves in glory either. Peter Jones’ response was naive from an experienced professional like himself, and in some ways came across very ignorantly. Nobody is ‘playing games’, the Trust just want more transparency and it’s fair to expect that. The further comments that the Board will have nothing to do with the Trust until it apologises are also a complete own goal by the board. The trust is the largest organised fans group that Argyle has. Hundreds of passionate and loyal Argyle fans are part of it and their opinions do matter. If you want your club to be run successfully the relationship with the fans is important. It’s important to keep them within earshot, but to keep them at arm’s length.
The likelihood is the Trust and the board will resolve their differences. It’s important for the club as a whole that they do. However, it’s important they do it quietly and quickly, and drag out this public PR feud no further. What we need now is togetherness. We’re in a dangerous position on the pitch and right now all our attention should be focused on giving the team all the support they need to survive.
Whilst I’m in no rush to go and purchase my trust membership, I respect the purpose of a fans trust, but it’s important that trust members also respect the purpose of the board. They are both in place to do right by Plymouth Argyle Football Club, and as long as they continue to do that, then that’s all that really matters.
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