October 2020 Update from NFST
As Forest supporters, we are all familiar with witnessing periods of adjustment at our club. The departure of Sabri Lamouchi earlier this week and replacement by Chris Hughton being the latest in a long line of regular managerial changes.
This latest change has been accompanied by significant criticism of the running of the club in some quarters, much of this in social media. The role of the Supporters’ Trust has come into focus with some questioning what our role should be to help address the concerns of fans during these times.
Since the Trust was launched in January 2017, the approach has always been to try to facilitate constructive dialogue with the club. Without this in place our mission is much compromised. We are proud of the fact that we have established and maintain regular and constructive communications over the last three years, and we are proud of the fact that the relationship has become one of mutual respect and understanding. The results of have led directly to many positive outcomes for supporters. In addition to this we have helped to support the running of food banks at the stadium, and successfully applied to have the City Ground registered as an Asset of Community Value.
We have worked over the past couple of years on projects such as supporter surveys, focus groups for fans with disabilities, mental health awareness and remembering supporters who have sadly been lost to COVID-19.
It is our fundamental role to relay views, concerns and questions from our membership to the club and this is a responsibility we take very seriously. It is true that the Trust was originally set up as a result of widespread concern amongst the fanbase about the previous ownership, however we are not and never were a protest organisation.
It is important for us to ask challenging questions and to seek explanation and justification where necessary, this will always however be done by means of mutually respectful discourse across many layers of the club’s organisation. We don’t presume to bring all the answers, and that is vitally important to remember. It’s important to listen too.
While we can’t always promise that every outcome will please every supporter, we can promise to work professionally and pragmatically to bring about positive change at the club, no matter who owns the club or how results are faring.
Our consistent approach of respect and constructiveness has been vital and this won’t be changing. This way of engaging is reflected beyond the club meetings in our social media output and in our media work. Our communication channels via email and social media are open for members and non-members alike to share views, and various board members are open to talking to fans on the phone or in-person too (COVID-19 restrictions allowing!).
The views we receive are always be listened to and taken on board whether we agree or disagree as individuals. While on-pitch matters are not in our remit, issues such as FFP and ground redevelopment are always on meeting agendas.
We recognise that we do not represent all fans, we welcome the fact that there are other approaches, other fan groups to be listened to and we do not for a moment seek to influence that. We are however unique amongst fan groups in that we are a fully democratic organisation. Anyone can join, and anyone can stand in our election to join the board. We are all volunteers, trying to stay on top of news and wider footballing issues around very busy day jobs and caring responsibilities.
We are a relatively young organisation, but our approach is already respected within the wider supporters trust network, the EFL and the Football Supporters’ Association.
Just like you, we are all passionate Forest fans and each of us is involved with the Trust to try to improve links between our wonderful club and the community it serves. It is about giving the most important group in any football community, the fans, a voice.
Finally, welcome on board to Chris Hughton. Best wishes and come on you Reds!