What is a “Supporters’ Trust”?

A supporters’ trust is a formal, democratic and not-for-profit organisation of fans who attempt to strengthen the influence of supporters over the running of the club they support.

We are backed by the Football Supporters Association and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (Community Benefit Society #7433). A CBS is a form of Co-operative that operates under a one-member one-vote principle and any changes to the rules must be approved by the members; only becoming effective once the FSA has agreed them, checking they are in keeping with the spirit of the organisation.

Why should I become a member?

The Nottingham Forest Supporters’ Trust is as strong as its members make it. The more of us there are, the more involved we all get and the more we offer our skills and raise our voices, then the stronger the Trust will be. We have the potential to speak on behalf of all fans, We can make a real positive difference to the future of our club.

What do you do with my £12 membership fee?

£1 of your initial members fee is held and exchanged for one ordinary share in the Trust. This means that you own part of the Trust along with your fellow members. Nobody can own more than one share and no matter how much one person donates along with their initial member fee their shareholding is no greater than anybody else.

The remainder of the money, first and foremost, goes towards modest running costs (we get as much as we can through contacts and kind donations but some things, like web hosting or postage do attract some costs).

Beyond that we’ll use funds for two things – firstly we might invest some of it into events that generate greater funds for the Trust. For example we may hire a venue to hold a fundraiser.

We also look to use funds to benefit the community we represent. For example we have, for three seasons, been the main player sponsor for Grace Walters of Nottingham Forest Ladies FC. We will continue to seek opportunities where our funds can bring benefit and opportunity to the Nottingham Forest community.

What do I get for being a member?

As a member you get a few physical things, but more importantly you get to voice your thoughts alongside your fellow members. The very core of the trust movement is embedded in this ideology – trusts exist because of, and for, their members.

We need to hear from all members so we know what they think, our objective is to be a voice which represents the views of the widest possible fan base and so we will be consulting you. As a member you will get the chance to tell us what you think at meetings and via online surveys.

We hold board elections annually, these are open to all full adult members.

As a member you will also receive:

  • A share certificate
  • A regular newsletter updating on Trust activity, past and upcoming events
  • Access to exclusive ‘member only’ events
  • Opportunity to attend the annual AGM
  • Opportunity to apply to stand for board election
How will you use my personal data if I become a member?

Our full privacy policy can be found by clicking here

In short, we will not use your data for anything other than keeping you updated on our activity and ensuring you have the opportunity to engage with us.

We never sell data or share it with third parties for marketing purposes.

Can under 18’s join the Trust?

Yes, under 18’s are welcome to join us, however the rules we are governed by mean that under 18’s would not receive a share, be permitted to vote in or stand in elections or attend AGMs. Despite those restrictions we are passionate about what fans in this age group can offer and it’s our hope that we can look to offer events and opportunities for debate exclusively for such a group. Junior membership is available at half the price of full membership (£6/year).

Is it realistic to expect the Trust to be able to own shares in the club?

It’s certainly realistic, and many trusts do own shares in their club but obviously, the money in football today is vast and the opportunity to acquire shares may not arise immediately, or for some time.

The opportunity to gain shares can come about through multiple scenarios, not just the ‘disaster’ scenarios from clubs like Portsmouth or Swansea.

We consider that we are lucky that we are not, currently, facing a situation where there is an imminent threat to the future of the club; but we are similarly mindful of how NFST came into being and furthermore how quickly situations can change, especially in football.

Our approach remains one of cautious optimism – working to establish strong, lasting links with the community we represent and the executive team at Nottingham Forest. This places us in the best possible position when circumstances change in either a positive or negative manner.

How do I join the board?

If you are you interested in becoming a member of NFST board and think that your skills and expertise can bring ideas, passion and drive into what we are trying to achieve then we would really welcome your application.

Our Board Membership & Conduct Policy can be found here

The nomination form for candidates can be found here

You can contact us at comms@nffctrust.org if you want to talk about any aspect of our election process or what being a board member entails.

What’s the difference between the Trust and the Supporters Club?

As a trust we do not in any way intend to take away from the fantastic work our supporters’ club and it’s various branches already do. Trusts and Supporters’ Clubs are different in both structure, legal standing and purpose.

A Supporters Club, like NFSC, is more of a social collective which might be equally concerned about the situation at the club but due to its unregulated status legally unable to buy the club or operate in the same way as a Trust.

Our Supporters’ Club still has a significant role to play, providing transport for fans, putting on fan events, lobbying the club and acting to represent supporters.

However, a trust can own shares or property, and unlike a Supporters Club it can ultimately own the club, and at the very least, own a shareholding.

We very much intend for the Trust to live alongside our existing Supporters’ Club, as a complementary organisation, both ultimately invested in the long term success of Nottingham Forest.

How will you engage with the club?

One of our primary aims was structured, positive dialogue with the club on an ongoing basis. This is something many clubs have achieved however it’s important for us to remember that no club has achieved this overnight. We were delighted to reach agreement with NFFC via a formal ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. This commits senior members of NFST and NFFC to hold regular, relevant dialogue.

Some trusts even have a place on the board of the club either as a result of that advancing dialogue with the club or as a result of the shareholding they have amassed.

What is very important is that we grow our member base so that we carry more credibility with the club and therefore increase the chances of positive engagement.

In addition to our own efforts to engage there is increasing support from government and the Football League who are both heavily in favour of clubs engaging with their supporters through their respective trusts, if one exists. Every indication from both organisations is that this pressure will be increased as efforts are redoubled to bring football ‘closer to the fans’.

Won’t you just end up as an extension of the club?

No, absolutely not. We are, and will remain, independent fans. We do not receive, and would not accept, any preferential treatment by the club. We attend games and pay for our own tickets.

Our aim is to represent as broad a section of our fan-base as possible. This doesn’t mean we will oppose the club at every juncture or for the sake of it. We strongly believe in professional, courteous, pragmatic dialogue over protest however that does not mean we will not stand up for fans and make the views of the member base known.

We work closely with, and we are a member of, the Football Supporters Association; supporting and collaborating on work across a range of issues at a national and European level.

We take part in dialogue at a national level, including discussions with the EFL, Premier League and Football Association. Most recently we represented the FSA in a regular dialogue meeting with the executive board of the EFL (minutes for which can be found here)

How often does the Board meet and how much time does a Board member need to commit?

We meet approximately once per month in a face to face, formal board meeting.

We also make use of various tools to facilitate daily conversations can continue in between meetings. As board members there are rarely days when we do not communicate in some way, even if that is just via online chat tools and almost all board members conduct some sort of work on behalf of NFST on a daily basis.

There is no question that a place on the board is a significant commitment in terms of time and should not be taken lightly but it also provides an exciting, rare opportunity to contribute positively to the community we represent.

Do Board members gain financially from their positions at the Trust?

No. Board members receive no payment for their services to the board and offer their time on a voluntary basis.

In addition, the rules governing Community Benefit Societies prevent any member making a profit on their shareholding; as a non-profit organisation all funds raised, through whatever means, are returned to the society for reinvestment.

How do you propose to build funds?

We raise funds through a mixture of subscriptions, donations and fund raising events.

You can never buy the Club. What’s the point?

With the money involved in football today it is obviously only an extreme situation that would result in the Trust being able to fully own the club and, like all fans, we would much prefer the situation (administration) that would most likely lead to this outcome did not arise!

The aim is to increase the voice of supporters by continuing a collective engagement with the club and lobbying for fan consultation on relevant and pertinent issues that affect all relationships with the club.

Additionally, support is growing across the political spectrum for the idea of independent and accountable directors on club boards, so it is important that we build a strong, high performing trust to ensure we are in a position to take advantage of this opportunity should it arise.

Can you really represent us if all Forest fans are not members?

We, of course, prioritise member feedback in dialogue with the club. A highly engaged membership is something we have continually strived for and, in many instances, have achieved with many members providing regular, in depth feedback to us.  Becoming a member gives you the opportunity to have a direct input into decisions made by the club’s board, to pose specific questions in depth.

We do, however, take input from multiple sources when discussing matters with the club. Our volunteers ensure we can maintain a presence across three social media channels (where, unlike other organisations like ours, we have not taken the decision to become ‘broadcast only’ and not engage on those platforms), we are involved in discussions at a national level with other supporter organisations within the FSA network, we take part in conversations that involve regulatory and organising bodies such as the EFL & FA and we speak with community organisations such as Level Playing Field and the Nottingham Forest Community Trust. In short, we make a considerable effort to gather a spectrum of views and situations beyond those we receive directly from our members.

We would always encourage anyone who wants to get their views heard to join us, engage with us, perhaps even get involved at a more hands on level with our projects or even standing for a board position if you have the time to dedicate.

Sounds great, where do I join?

You can join by clicking here and following our simple online join up process!