In November 2013, the recently-merged Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust issued an official manifesto, entitled ‘One Voice – Your Voice’, outlining the organisations objectives.
The manifesto was issued along the following press statement:
“The Supporters Club & Trust was formed by merging the two former supporters groups to act as the One Voice of Bristol City Supporters. Our October 2013 manifesto; One Voice – Your Voice, outlines our objectives – which we believe will help Bristol City Supporters play a big part in the future of their club.
In all issues we intend to work alongside other supporter groups as closely as possible. We have also produced a reminder of some of the things we have achieved over the last few years.
We regularly meet with Club officials on issues that most affect supporters. We have welcomed the Five Pillar strategy, the work being done by the Community Trust, the consultation about the development of Ashton Gate Stadium and the Fans Parliament. However, over the last six months we have made observations and recommendations behind closed doors about management issues at Ashton Gate and we feel the time is right to share them with fellow supporters.
In response to our request for supporter representation at board level, we were presented with a structure that shows the board very much focussed on the playing side and a management team focussed on operations. We take the point that supporters would be unlikely to influence player or management recruitment decisions (although hugely vocal and influential en masse when required). The parts that most affect supporters, such as stadium facilities, ticketing, match day experience and community initiatives, are where we can add value and here we have identified a gap.
We have experienced a lack of clarity about reporting lines and accountability. It is almost as if the board and management team are operating in parallel, rather than one being accountable to the other. There is no better illustration of this state of affairs than the flawed implementation of the new ticketing system, for which no board member took responsibility.
We have tried to get answers to the following questions:
- Who is running Bristol City Football Club?
- How is the board and management team, collectively and individually, accountable?
- Are Bristol Sport Limited directors and employees operationally involved?
We raised these questions because we think they are fundamentally important. Articulating a strategy is one thing; having the right skills and structure to support its implementation is another. We work well with the management team; however, this is more an observation to help Bristol City Football Club achieve its overall and long-term strategy. Our recommendations over the period have been:
- Nominate or appoint a strong leader with the authority and drive to ‘make things happen’ who can clearly articulate the vision for Bristol City Football Club both internally and externally
- Clarify reporting lines for the management team and accountability at board level
- Clarify the cross-over with Bristol Sport Limited
- Involve supporters in key decisions that affect them in a timely way
We will never know how much our questions influenced the recent board changes and the appointment of the new CEO.
We call upon the board of Bristol City Football Club to show strong leadership, to ensure that the latest management changes and any others that may follow empower executive staff to make decisions and take responsibility within a clear reporting structure and to include fans in meaningful and timely consultation on key issues affecting them.”
The manifesto in full, along with a summary of some of the enlarged group’s previous achievements can be read as a PDF document here.