About the Trust

The Trust today permalink

Cheltenham Town Supporters Society Ltd - the official name for the Robins Trust - owns around 10% of the current issued share capital in Cheltenham Town Football Club.

That makes us - the fans - the fourth largest shareholder in our Club.

We are able to provide the fans with a voice at the top table and a say in all decisions made by the Board.

Our current vice-chair David Beesley was elected to serve a second term as our Fan Elected Director in 2020, meaning he has served as a board member of our Club since 2018.

Both David Beesley and James Young (Chair of the Trust Board) made significant contributions to the interim findings of the government’s Fan Led Review of Football Governance, led by Tracey Crouch MP.

Trust member Jenny Hancock is the Club’s Supporter Liaison Officer, providing a direct match-day link between fans and the Club.

The Trust board has five other elected members: Simon Watten, Chris Coleman, John Cooper, Jaimie Henderson, Leo Hoenig and Sam Lear.

History permalink

In the early 2000s, the precursors to the Football Supporters’ Association were formed to encourage, equip and empower fans to play a greater role in their clubs.

The collapse of ITV Digital in 2002 led to a period of profound uncertainty for many clubs in the English Football League, causing financial hardships that reverberated throughout the sport and led many people to look at alternative models of ownership and governance.

In 2005, an open meeting of Cheltenham Town supporters led to the foundation of the Robins Trust.

The relative stability of the Club meant that for the first eight years of its existence, the Robins Trust was a supportive and, where necessary, constructively critical friend of the Club.

During this period, the Trust steadily increased its shareholding and membership and contributed funds to the Club on an ad-hoc basis.

The aim at this time was to eventually gain a seat on the Club’s Board in the form of a Fan Elected Director.

This goal was suddenly within reach in 2013 when our founding secretary Bryan Jacob died. In a huge act of kindness, Bryan had named the Robins Trust as the major beneficiary in his will.

The proceeds of his estate amounted to more than £222,000 and led to a historic vote in April 2015.

Trust members agreed to invest £200,000 into Cheltenham Town, thus securing a place on the Club’s Board of Directors.

Then Trust chairman Clive Gowing was elected to serve as the first ever Fan-Elected Director (FED), completing his two-year term in April 2017.

At this point, Clive joined the Club’s Board as Finance Director, a role entirely independent of the Trust.

A partial relaunch of the Trust took place in mid-2017, with Murry Toms acting for a brief period as the FED.

Dave Beesley was appointed as interim FED before being officially elected in 2018, and navigated the Trust’s representation on the Board following the departure of long-serving Club Chairman Paul Baker.

Having re-established the place of a Fan-Elected Director on the Club’s Board as a vital voice of the supporters, the FED now represents the largest shareholding in the Club with a seat on the Board.

Dave then ensured that the Trust was involved in helping the Board and the other owners of the Club to steer Cheltenham Town through the coronavirus pandemic and through the return of supporters to grounds in the post-Covid world.

Both our chair James Young, our FED Dave Beesley and SLO Jenny Hancock have formed close working relationships with both the Football Supporters’ Association and with other fan representative groups across the country.

James was elected by members of those representative groups to serve as a FSA National Council representative for League One and League Two Network in 2020.

In 2021 he was re-elected to serve a three-year term on the Council working alongside the two other representatives for the Network to drive significant change in how football is structured, governed and run.