Answer to a “Concerned” Supporter

In an attempt to address genuine concerns and questions raised recently, Steering Group member Ian Bridge has offered to personally answer any emails in an attempt to keep supporters as up to date as possible with the ongoing establishment of the BWFCST.

The emails below are indicative of some of the current questions arising in various forums and only personal details of the supporter involved have been removed. As you will see, the email trail has been reproduced with the full permission of the supporter. To protect anonymity, the sender has been called “Concerned”.

Ian can be contacted at Ian@BWFCST.co.uk if you have any questions you’d like to ask him directly.


On 1 Feb 2016, Ian Bridge wrote:

Hello “Concerned”.

I have been passed your email sent to the general enquiry address.

I agree that any genuine comment and concern needs addressing by the Steering Group and if you email me directly with your concerns, will certainly do my best to ensure that they receive consideration and the appropriate action put in hand.

The BWFCST website is not really intended to be a Fans Forum, but a vehicle to keep all supporters and future members informed about developments in the ongoing formation of the Supporters’ Trust.

The Steering Group is working as quickly as possible to move towards full elections and we would ask for your patience and understanding whilst this process is underway.

Please email me with your comments and I will do my very best to provide you with an answer.

Best regards
BWFCST Steering Group
Ian Bridge


On 3 Feb 2016, “Concerned” wrote:

Hello there Ian,

Firstly may I thank you for your efforts and commitment in getting involved in our Trust from the outset.

Unfortunately my correspondence to you was via the BWFCST site and I therefore do not have a copy of what I said.
However, I think that my communique is quite self explanatory.

I was at the first meeting at the Macron when we agreed to set up our Trust and I wholeheartedly support the concept.

Having had time to reflect on my original posting as “Concerned”,
I remain of the opinion that the apparently clandestine appointment of Richard Hurst should have been handled much better. The feeling that many trust members have got, is that there is an ‘inside elite’ running the show.
I remain sceptical as to the impartiality and ethics behind such appointments. We have not had any information that I’m aware of, regarding who’s steering our ship at the moment. Whenever things aren’t transparent, open and honest, people justifiably smell a rat and become wary.
I was incensed that our Trust had fallen at the first hurdle by making decisions in secret, behind closed doors.
If this is to work, it must not be jobs for the boys and the rich & powerful only, it must be inclusive and fully representative of its membership.
I am very wary of the motives and intentions of some, and as a fan base we have been marginalised and kept in the dark way too long by the club and from the outset, it would appear the Trust too.
It seems far to convenient and to me rather suspicious, that the likes of Mr. Hurst, given his established connections with the board, should be somehow put in the driving seat; without any involvement at all, with the membership.
Democracy, openness and transparency are fundamental pre-requisites of our aim and we have therefore failed at the start point.

I think it should be put on the website how the steering group came to fruition, names of each member of the group (including there background interest and motives for being involved) should be there for all to see,

How such appointments of people like Richard Hurst are made.

We need better communication, that is open, honest and fully transparent.

The trust and the town along with the club, will only thrive if we all feel involved and fully represented in a democratic and clear process.

I trust that this will help us move forward in an air of clarity, openness, democracy and togetherness.

If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Many thanks indeed.

Kindest Regards
“Concerned”


On 4 February, Ian Bridge wrote:

Hello “Concerned”

Sorry about the delay in replying, but I felt that I had to take the time to address your concerns in detail and would like to try and answer on a point by point basis.

I would like to thank you for acknowledging our efforts and commitment in setting up the Supporters’ Trust. You also advise that you support the concept of a Trust, after attending the meeting on 06 January ’16. I’m sure that you will agree that the emotion and passion displayed in the Premier Suite by the BWFC fans was humbling and inspiring in equal measures. It was this reaction that now drives the Steering Group forwards towards establishing a fully democratic Supporters’ Trust to provide a representative voice for the BWFC fans and to strengthen bonds between the Club and the communities which it serves.

Your initial point of concern appears to be the appointment of Richard Hurst as interim chairman of the Steering Group. You refer to his appointment as appearing to be “clandestine” in nature. I can assure you that this is not the case. As one of the individuals who put his name to the application to proceed with registering the Trust after the mandate gained on 06 January ’16, I acted, along with the other initial named registrants, to start by forming the necessary Steering Group. This action is fully in accordance with the dictates of the “Model Rules For A Supporters Community Mutual (2014 Version)“, as prepared by Supporters Direct and which constitutes the rules and regulations upon which the BWFCST registration was issued by the FCA. The full copy of this document is available on our website for you to consult at your leisure, however to clarify the validity of our initial actions, I would like to quote item 57 of said document, which states: “The initial Directors of the Society from registration until the first Annual General Meeting shall be appointed by the members on whose application the Society is registered”.

I am sure that you will appreciate that the amount of work to be undertaken to take the Trust from the initial idea to becoming an established and fully functioning, democratic and effective voice of the BWFC fans is quite considerable. For this reason, the Steering Group needs to be a carefully assembled group of committed people who can work together to deliver the necessary structure and organisation prior to the AGM. This structure can then be filled with democratically elected officers to serve the Trust and its members.

This process generally takes around 6 months to achieve. This time period is consistent with the experiences of Supporters Direct in the formation of other Supporters’ Trusts.

However, bearing in mind the current situation regarding the impending sale of our Club and the ongoing threat of winding-up, the requirement to establish our Supporters’ Trust is somewhat more pressing. If we can develop the BWFCST to become a functional organisation prior to the sale of the Club by Eddie Davies, there is an opportunity to maximise the influence of the BWFC supporters in whatever future ownership situation is to develop. I hope that you will agree that the ethos behind setting up the BWFCST is to achieve “the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of the Club”. These are not my words, nor other Steering Group member words, but are quoted directly from the Model Rules, as referenced above.

In line with the above, it was necessary to select the most suitably qualified individuals to form an effective Steering Group to move forward to the AGM and the democratically elected BWFCST Board, whilst also being sufficiently qualified to react, in the interests of the fans and the community, to any developments arising out of the ongoing sale of the Club and the attendant winding up petition. In other words, the need to fully understand the financial and legal implications of the Club’s current situation is an urgent need to be able to provide an informed and qualified voice to represent the fans of the Club.

The “inside elite” that you refer to is, in effect, a highly qualified and committed group of BWFC fanatics who wish to do all they can to help preserve the Club and also to provide a voice for the fans and the wider Bolton community. It is in this situation that we needed to find a suitably qualified and responsible interim chairman to head the Steering Group. Richard Hurst expressed an interest in becoming involved and his standing in the Bolton community is without question. His present position as Chairman of the Bolton Arena Trust and a Trustee of the BWFC Free School, together with his involvement for nearly 30 years with many aspects of the Bolton community, serve to demonstrate the respect and standing Richard has in the Bolton business and community world. Indeed, the Steering Group is fortunate that Richard has offered his time and experience to assist in moving the Trust forward towards full establishment. He has already stated publicly that he does not wish to stand for the position of elected chair when the election procedures are undertaken.

I would urge you to listen to Richard’s interview with Bolton FM (available in full on www.bwfcst.co.uk) as further evidence of Richard’s standing, abilities and commitment to BWFC, together with addressing your concerns about his links to the existing Club board.

Your second area of concern appears to be the question of “impartiality and ethics” of the Steering Group. If you would kindly look on the BWFCST website, names and details of Steering Group members are noted for your information. These details are being updated and added to as the Steering Group continues to evolve. Having been involved in the selection of the members of the Steering Group, I can advise that all are passionate and committed BWFC fans with no “established connections” to the existing Club board. I hope that a visit to the website will assuage your fears regarding the credentials of the Steering Group to both assist in the setting up of the BWFCST and to be in a position to provide an effective voice and presence for the fans during the current circumstances surrounding the sale of the Club.

I fully understand and agree with your comment about the poor communication of the Club in the past and we are attempting to keep all interested parties informed in developments during this formative period of the BWFCST. I hope that you and other concerned fans will understand that we are moving towards elections as soon as logistically and organisationally possible, whilst trying at all times to keep people informed. This process is being carried out on a voluntary basis by individuals who are all currently in full time employment. We will undertake to try our very best to keep all fans informed of all relevant matters as and when they arise. I can also assure you that Supporters Direct are involved with all the above on a daily basis.

I hope that the above goes some way to answering your concerns. I am also willing to meet with you if you feel that further information is needed. I can assure you that the Steering Group has the best interests of the supporters and the community at our hearts and will continue to do so at all times.

Best regards
BWFCST Steering Group
Ian Bridge


On 5 Feb 2016, Ian Bridge wrote:

Hello “Concerned”.

I sincerely hope that you have had a chance to read through my email response to your concerns as below. The questions that you raise are valid expressions of concern and as such the Steering Group feel that the supporters would be better informed with a wider exposure. It is with this in mind, that I would request your permission for the trust to put your email onto the BWFCST website, in a redacted format of course, to allow those concerns to be seen and to also allow my reply to be shown in response. All your details and names/email addresses would be removed and you would retain complete anonymity.

If you are agreeable to this suggestion, please let me know. The trust are fully committed to trying to assure the supporters that there are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives behind BWFCST and that we are trying to explore every avenue in gaining a voice for the fans in the running of our club.

As I said in my earlier email, I am more than willing to meet with you personally to try and assure you of the total commitment of the Steering Group to provide the fans with as much influence as possible in the future of BWFC.

I look forward to your response to my request.

Best regards
BWFCST Steering Group
Ian


On 6 February 2016, “Concerned” wrote:

Hello there Ian,

Firstly, RESULT!!
Just been following the match on line and I am absolutely delighted, as I am sure you are too.

Thank you for keeping me in the loop, I appreciate that.

May I start by saying that I have gone through you response in fine detail and I feel and think that your correspondence has both gravity and much re-assurance. I am heartily impressed and pleased by your attention to detail and the thorough way in which you have addressed my (and others) concerns.

I would like to place on the record that I have absolutely no axe to grind with Richard Hurst; I don’t even know the man. My primary objective was to relay to the steering group the ‘word on the street’ from the fans that I have spoken with. And may I add that I too was very upset with the lack of transparent and detailed information as to what is going on behind the scenes within ‘Our Trust’.

We must acknowledge that many many fans feel disconnected from the club and the Trust at the moment, and to that end it is our responsibility to include and involve one and all.

My comments are not in any way intended to be personal or disrespectful towards the dedicated commitment of the people who are currently ‘steering the ship’.
My objective remains to further and progress our aims & objectives as a cohesive, transparent and fully democratic unit.

I am a lifelong Wanderer and I am proud of our club, our town and our heritage.
I passionately want our Trust to work and all that I want is to maximise inclusion and representation of the membership.

We must be wholly transparent, ethical and inclusive if we are to become a dynamic and progressive team.
I believe that we would benefit from open forums and open meetings, whereby everyone is entitled to have their say.

Everyone should and must feel able to be involved as much or as little as they chose.
I also would add, that we ought to be brave and bold in taking all points of view on, both positive and negative, as well as the constructive suggestions offered by our colleagues and fellow fans.

I would like to take you up on your offer of meeting up. I sense that we can work together for the greater good. (Some private text omitted)

If the best I can do is offer my thoughts and ideas to help us progress, then I would be happy with that.

With regard to your request to seek publication of our correspondence together, I would be delighted to assist in this manner – providing that, as per your suggestion, my personal details remain anonymous and confidential.

(Some private text omitted)
In addition, I feel that it should be made clear, that to date, I have not been formally involved in the steering group at all.
I sincerely hope that people reading our dialogue can see and understand that our communication is totally honest and authentic and has not been pre-fabricated in any way.

I passionately believe that we must endeavor to be comprehensively informative and open.

I value your efforts and due diligence in this matter.
I look forward to your response and hopefully meeting you too.

Many thanks & kindest regards
“Concerned”


As the Trust continues to be as transparent as possible, we do try to answer as many genuine questions as possible on social media and email. If you have any genuine questions that have not been answered so far on our FAQs or News Pages, please don’t hesitate to ask us directly via our contact form. Thank you!

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