Tuesday, 6 January 2015

YOUR chance to get involved with the Swans

Swansea City is the only Premier League club which has substantial fan representation, and the Supporters Trust wants your help

A huge part of what makes Swansea City so special is that we're fan owned. With a board made up of fans, plus the Supporters Trust owning a 21.1% stake in the club, it's easy to understand why fans of other clubs long for a model of ownership more akin to that in place in South Wales. 

Click here to join Swansea City Supporters Trust
The Supporters Trust recently published an excellent Q&A in response to ongoing talk of investment from American millionaires. Here's the link (click here) - it's well worth a read and highlights that the Supporters Trust has been taking it's role very seriously when it comes to vetting the investors. I was very pleased by this, and it's reassuring to know there is ongoing work being done to safeguard the interests of the fans.

I'm not saying the board would ever intentionally do anything to harm the club, nor anything which would conflict directly with the majority of supporters wishes, but the Trust ensures that the voices of fans are heard consistently, which isn't something that can be said at most clubs - in the UK at least. It's an extreme example, but look at what happened to The Football Club Formerly Known as Wimbledon. 

In theory without supporters' representation any football club could be at the beck and call of any millionaire owner, which is why our supporters trust, and the championing of the model in general, is so important. Many clubs have looked to the Swans as a blueprint for reshaping the hierarchy at their club, and with any luck this is a trend which can go from strength to strength in the future.

This isn't just an affectionate look at the trust though. It recently came to my attention when signing up for the year that the current free membership stands at around 12,000, while the paid membership (which costs just £10) is far lower - around the 1,000 mark. That strikes me as staggeringly low, and I decided to put some numbers together to show why it should be much greater.

Here are some figures from Swansea City's social media accounts:

  • Twitter: 303,000 Followers
  • Facebook: 798,247 likes
  • Instagram: 25,800 followers
  • Youtube: 11,294 subscribers / 4,370,698 views
  • Google+: 23,058 followers

They've even got 23,000+ followers on GooglePlus! Nobody even uses that, do they?! Yet somehow only 1,000 people have paid a tenner to be a paid up member of the trust - something which would give you voting rights if any serious issue threatened the club and a vote was called.

Something which does in part explain this is that previously, season ticket holders automatically gained full membership to the trust. It's since been changed so season ticket holders get free membership, but full membership costs £10 per year - something which I honestly think is a really good idea for any fan regardless of location, how much they can attend matches or any other mitigating factor. Excluding having no money, that is. Then it's fair enough, obviously. 

I think perhaps a lot of people aren't fully aware they don't have full membership - the number of "free members" would indicate these are mostly season ticket holders - and I'm sure if when renewing their season ticket there was a tick-box for "I want to pay £10 to gain full membership & voting rights for the supporters trust" then most would happily pay the extra tenner. Lots get their tickets on finance - what's £10 over a year? 83p a month, that's what. Not bad eh? 

To put that in perspective, Arsenal charge £36 per season for "Red Level" membership to their ticketing schemes - the lowest level which has Silver, Gold & Platinum above it - and all you get for that yearly fee is the right to buy tickets first and at a lower price than those without it. I don't think trust membership is something which should be looked at as only essential for Swansea fans who regularly attend matches. A strong, healthy supporters trust can only be good for the club, and in this case I firmly believe that there is power in numbers. 

With that in mind, here's a link to the signup page for the Supporters Trust. If you're in Montana or Morriston, Kidwelly or Kuwait, it'll be the best £10 you spend all week. Possibly all year. Do it.