BCFC: Fans’ Forums

6 Dec 2022 | 7 comments

St Andrews

The news last week that the Paul Richardson/Maxco takeover had fallen through once again brought the need for fan engagement with the club sharply into focus.

At the start of 2022, in a study of fan engagement (Fan Engagement Index – Think Fan Engagement), Blues came a lamentable 75th out of the 92 league clubs in terms of its engagement with supporters of the club.

After fan disquiet in January, and particularly so following the FA Cup defeat to Plymouth Argyle, the club appeared to be making moves to try and address this.  The club held a Fan Forum in January which opened with an apology for the breakdown in communication, before addressing the situation regarding the ground, the club’s ownership (“the owners have no intention to sell”) and various other club matters.  The meeting ended with a promise that “the event formed part of a wider, more transparent communication strategy that will see regular fan-facing activity with senior figures, and noticeable changes across the Club for every Blues supporter.”

There was also an open letter from Blues Chairman Wenqing Zhao which lamented the lack of sufficient communications with fans and encouraged further dialogue between club and supporters.

This was followed in February with the appointment of a new Managing Director, Ian Dutton, coupled with a further promise to improve communication.

Since then, progress has been limited, at best.

The club did start to produce monthly updates but the informative content on these dwindled and then petered out altogether, with the club instead deciding to only communicate when there was something to say.

Updates in themselves are also not dialogue of course.  Dialogue is a two-way process. Since January there has been no further official Fan Forum.  A meeting originally planned in May was firstly postponed for a week and then cancelled all together at the last minute.  This left the club in breach of the EFL requirements for clubs to hold formal supporter meetings at least twice every season.

Since January we’ve also had publication of the Fan Led Review with one of its key recommendations identifying the improvement of fan engagement with the instigation of Fan Advisory Boards.  Many clubs have already started this voluntarily, and the EPL are now making it mandatory that all Premier League Clubs form such groups.  Blues Trust has strongly encouraged Blues to introduce something along these lines and has also met with the club’s management team concerning implementing some of the other FLR findings. But, so far, there has been very little visible progress.

The club issued a statement in mid-November that the “bi-annual Fans’ Forums…..will be announced to supporter groups soon”.  Informally, the Trust was told that the next Forum would be in mid-December. But, once again, there has been no follow up action and a date has still to be confirmed.

Following the breakdown of the proposed takeover, supporters have a number of legitimate questions to ask of the club’s hierarchy. These include:

  • What are the owners’ intentions and plans for the club following the breakdown of the proposed takeover?;
  • Did Richardson/Maxco lend the club money and, if so, what are the terms of repayment and how will this affect the running of the club?;
  • Can the club commit that the ground repairs will be completed during the next close season as previously stated?

There will be other questions too, not least regarding the EFL’s ongoing investigation into the true ownership of the club.

The message for the ownership and officials at St. Andrew’s is quite simple.  Fans have many questions regarding the future well-being of the club and there is an urgent and pressing need for structured dialogue. Supporters of the club are its lifeblood and deserve better than being treated with a silence that borders on contempt.

Nobody wants to see the same mistakes as last year being repeated.  If that happens, the same results will occur and more and more fans will become ever more disgruntled and disillusioned.

Over to you Edward and Ian.

Blues Trust


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  1. Linda Goodman

    Agree totally with article but another important point is that fans want confirmation that none of our youngsters will be allowed to leave. Eustace needs to start building a team round these lads as most matches8/9 of the starting 11 aren’t contracted for next season

    • Cliff

      thanks Linda for your comments and the question regarding young players is certainly something that we need answers to. If there are other questions fans want answers to please put them in the comments here and we will ensure they are asked.
      Chair, Blues Trust

  2. tracey tyler

    Yes now that the Takeover has come to a abrupt end you can imagine the owners rubbing their grubbly little hands together waiting to cash in on our youngsters.I had hope that we could keep Hall,James and the rest while the Takeover was going through and Eustace was doing a great job but my hope is fading.Hope is what l had for the first time for years but it feels like we have gone backwards again.l am a season ticket holder of many years but if these youngsters are sold especially Hall who has the potential to be better than Jude Bellingham l will not be renewing again.

  3. Mitchell

    Cliff & co. really do deserve credit for relentlessly trying to get answers for us all. My questions simply are this: 1).Have Richardson/ Lopez had any input into running the club since the start of the season. 2). Who actually appointed John Eustace following Lee Bowyer’s departure. 3). Regarding the ground repairs- have either Richardson or Lopez had any say with the ongoing work schedule with Buckingham Group.

  4. Ed Truman

    This football club of ours really does try your patience. What a sorry state of affairs. Another example of really poor management. What planet are these people on? Yes, we may be football supporters but we are also customers who could…if we so chose…take our support elsewhere. We won’t of course. But that’s not the point. Talk about being taken for granted.

    As for only communicating “when there is something to say”, that really takes the biscuit. A classic example of lazy, convenient and contemptuous leadership. And in any case, who decides if something is worth saying? Don’t they understand that there are thousands upon thousands of Blues supporters who are emotionally invested in the club? Supporters who are interested in the club and who care about it? The clue is in the word “club”. The management at St. Andrew’s should check out the definition in a dictionary.

    Well done and thanks to Blues Trust for another very informative and illuminating article. Really disappointing to read, but good that the situation is being exposed.

    My questions are why the lack of transparency and why the reluctance to engage with concerned supporters? It’s a football club for goodness sake, not a branch of the state security services in the Kremlin.

    • Mitchell

      Ed. Biggest problem is that of losing the dream that might happen and we get a takeover that we approve of and feel part of. I have always wanted the facts before me and even more so since this laughable Maxco circus. Now the problem I have is not really wanting the true facts as I don’t want to lose that ‘dream ‘ that our club will eventually be looked after and cherished. Hard to plod on and believe Ed.but we know we have to.

  5. Stan Drews

    Are the owners prepared to describe in detail, the ownership structure of the club, and stadium, and any problems that this has.raised with the EFL.

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