An update from the Robins Trust

— 7 minute read

Just like the work currently being done by Michael Duff, his coaching staff and Micky Moore, and the club board too, a lot of the work being undertaken by the Trust is unseen.

Over the course of the summer it has been a busy time for our Trust chair James Young, our FED Dave Beesley and SLO Jenny Hancock.

Countless meetings and conversations have been held, either with each other, fellow club or Trust board members, the EFL, the FSA and other clubs.

Because most of that work is unseen, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share what we've been up to and explain why there are certain things we can't comment on in public.

THE FED permalink

It's probably best to start with matters close to home and the work of our Fan Elected Director, Dave Beesley.

It is perhaps a simplification to say it has been an unusual summer, but Dave has carried out his role as FED to the letter of the Trust's established and legally-binding procedures.

The role of an FED is a thankless task as Dave is beholden to two very separate, but equally demanding, masters.

At all times he has to try to be representative of the people who elected him - the wider community of Trust members - and reflect the view of the everyday, matchgoing fan.

But he also has a legal responsibility as a director of Cheltenham Town Football Club to do what is right for the business as a whole.

And while sometimes those two things are one and the same, often there is conflict that can lead to him being put in a difficult position.

A stated aim for the Trust - and therefore our FED - is to make football as affordable and inclusive as it can be.

Our FED will always take that view to the club board's discussions, but will have to balance that with what is best for the long-term future and stability of the club.

As much as we would like to see Cheltenham Town have a huge playing budget and the most affordable ticket prices in the country, those two ideals are polar opposites and a balance must be struck.

Dave reports back to the Trust board at our monthly meetings on matters on which he is able - we don't talk about playing budgets or player salaries - as that is not our job.

Collectively as a Trust and individually as an FED our job is to make the best argument, based on our beliefs and agreed aims.

Everything we do as a Trust board and Dave does as an FED is 100 per cent in the best long-term interests of our club.


At the start of the 2020/1 season, Trust chair James Young was elected to serve on the Football Supporters Association National Council as one of three national representatives for Leagues One and Two.

It has been an extraordinary year that has culminated in both James, Dave and the Trust taking a leading role in the recent Fan-Led Review of football governance. Review chair Tracey Crouch has presented her draft recommendations, following an exhaustive two-months of evidence gathering.

The Trust played a role in that evidence submission – which we explained here

In the weeks leading up to an evidence session with the review panel on June 15, countless meetings were held to agree a collective submission of evidence to Tracey Crouch's review.

A consensus from the 48 League One and Two clubs was agreed and James helped the FSA lead a two-hour evidence session to Tracey Crouch's review.

We join the FSA in welcoming the initial recommendations for an Independent Regulator and Licensing system for football and look forward to seeing the plans progress later in the year.

It is hoped that the outcome of the review, and the subsequent government legislation will lead to significant and lasting change in the football ecosystem.

The establishment of an independent regulator for football, will halt reckless overspending, stop malevolent owners and directors from getting their hands on clubs and - crucially - improve the governance and structures of our clubs, the leagues and the FA.

Whatever happens, the Robins Trust can be proud of the role we have played in trying to make our game change for the better.

OUR SLO permalink

Jenny Hancock joined the Trust board as a co-opted member in 2019 and has been one of the best signings we have ever made.

Following her official election in 2020 she took on the role of Club Supporter Liaison Officer, as well as being appointed joint Trust vice chair alongside the FED.

The role of the SLO is mandated by the EFL and has recently - if we are honest - been a bit of an afterthought at our club.

Jenny has changed that for the better and has set about on a number of exciting projects that will really start to bear fruit when fans return to grounds.

Over the summer she has been working, and continues to work, with the club and the Whaddon Road caterers on suggesting improvements to the matchday offering.

She has also spoken with Fans For Diversity and a number of Robins fans about the establishment of a LGBTQ+ supporters group as we aim to make our club as inclusive as it can be.

Jenny is working alongside well-known Robins fan Nathan Mattick on ensuring our home is accessible as it can be to disabled fans.

All that work will continue, but the role of the SLO is only just beginning. It is when fans return to the ground that she will come into her own.

Friendly, outgoing and always available to lend an ear - and an opinion - Jenny will be your point of contact if you have concerns, suggestions or - hopefully - praise to share.

WHAT'S NEXT permalink

The work of the FED, Trust chair, SLO and the wider Trust board is ongoing and will hopefully be being ramped up in future weeks and months.

At the start of the pandemic we chose to freeze Trust memberships to allow fans to keep hold of their hard-earned at a time when budgets were stretched.

Coming soon, we will be relaunching with a fresh focus and a new mantra - of being a serious investor in our club.

While Dave, Jenny and James have been distracted by their tasks, the wider Trust board is working hard on a rebrand and a relaunch that we hope to be able to share with you very soon.

The Trust already owns 10% of our club - and is the fourth largest shareholder in Cheltenham Town AFC Ltd.

We are keen to increase that investment and become a part of a wider ownership group of our club, and put the fans front and centre in the future of our club.

Fan ownership has worked and does work elsewhere in the pyramid - with AFC Wimbledon and Exeter City two examples of clubs owned by fans, which are run sustainably and sensibly.

There are countless examples of other clubs that have been run by speculators, gamblers and those who care not a jot about supporters, some of whom, unfortunately, no longer exist.

Our hope is that the Fan-led Review and a new independent regulator for football will encourage supporter investment and ownership like never before.

It is an exciting time to be a Robins fan.

Our history-making, title-winning team led by Michael Duff is ready to break new ground.

Our club has an honest, hard-working and open board of directors who will never gamble the long-term future of our club.

We have benevolent, friendly owners who care deeply about the long-term future of our club.

And we could have significant supporter ownership and influence to ensure that our club puts fans first, if we are brave enough to take that step together.

The future is bright, it's red and white and you can play a significant part in helping to shape it.

Watch this space...