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Interviews

TOM CLIFFE ON THE BENEFITS OF THE NEW FAN ADVISORY BOARD

Supporters elected representative on the benefits, the aims and the make up of the FAB

10 January 2024

Interviews

TOM CLIFFE ON THE BENEFITS OF THE NEW FAN ADVISORY BOARD

Supporters elected representative on the benefits, the aims and the make up of the FAB

10 January 2024

The supporters elected representative Tom Cliffe has been speaking about the new Fan Advisory Board that was announced last week.

Cliffe will oversee the new group run by fans for fans, which has been set up with the aim of further progressing of the club's ongoing commitment to supporter engagement.

"My fan elected director role has been in place a couple of years and we wanted to take things further, to help us as supporters engage on a really meaningful level," he said.

"We want to formalise that process and bring people on board so fans really feel part of the process.

"The important thing for me is that this gives the fans a real voice. Since the announcement, many fans have come forward with some great ideas about involvement and the big thing about this is two way communication. The important thing is to be ahead of the curve and I think we are ahead of many clubs in terms of fan engagement.

"We want open feedback that is honest and isn't just positive. We don't just want people who will sit there and say everything is great, we want to see where we can improve, where we can get better and we want to utilise the skills and expertise of the fanbase. We want to see how we as fans can either get involved or even lead projects and to also look at some of the key issues and key decisions around the club.

"The more people who can hear conversations, the better. By getting a wide group of people involved we can do more and do that better. The Fan Advisory Board will also help communication both to the club and from the club and have an important role to play. I have always had an open line to the club but some people might find things more comfortable speaking to an admin of a Facebook page rather than with me or the club directly and we want them to have that option.

"The groups invited to form part of the board will have representatives on the board to reflect the views of their members, their users and the fans they engage with and it is very important that those views are reflected.

"I have talked to people from other similar groups at other clubs about how they work and how things progress and my own ideas were very similar to that feedback so I think we are going about things the right way. We want to be the best we can be and I think we are heading the right way. I expect this board will evolve and develop as we go and in many ways the fans involved will shape that.

"The reaction to the announcement of the board has been overwhelmingly positive. There have been some questions asked which I have responded to, I have had a couple of meetings too and that positivity and that acceptance has come through very quickly. This group might not be for everyone but it works for the vast majority and I have already seen some great ideas where things can be led by the fans."

One group who didn't receive an invite was the Trust, and Tom explained why.

"Back in July, a letter was sent by the club to the Trust. It was a seven page letter after the Judicial Review where it was clear that the Trust was a rival bidder to the club and the consequences of that and of certain behaviours over a long period of time. I know the club offered the Trust the chance to share that letter with their members. When you are looking at relationships and interactions the letter explained in detail why, with the current Trust board in place, those interactions can't take place.

"I want this Fan Advisory Board to be a positive experience. This is not about silencing dissenters, this is about working together for the good of the club and the fans. This is not about me, this is about us as a fanbase. Criticism and questions are fine, but certain behaviours are expected.

"This is certainly not excluding Trust members, who I am sure will also be part of other groups too. There are the initial groups we have approached and I have said to people you are welcome to apply as individuals and I believe we have a real cross section of the fanbase represented. Maybe we will go from 12 members to a larger group but if people believe they are not represented, reach out to me.

"Open Forums and the great work Wendy Lambell does as well are crucial and the FAB is extra, not in place of those things. There is a lot of positivity about the club and this is about building on that work together. As fans we are here for the long run and the existing mechanisms we have in place are crucial, and the work Wendy does as SLO is invaluable.

"The FAB will support all that is good about the club's fan interaction and look to improve even further."

 


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