Below is the email that was sent out to Robins Trust members on 26th July 2023:
Dear Robins Trust Member,
Only a few more sleeps until the new season starts! We're here with the latest update on the work the Robins Trust have been doing on behalf of you: our members. This newsletter is a chance to take a look back over the past season as well as considering the membership's priorities for the coming season.
Following some of the feedback from the supporters' survey, we're running another very short survey to find out where Cheltenham Town supporters are located across the country and around the globe. It takes 20 seconds, and it's really useful to help us look at potential events: https://forms.gle/JKKpnGwtRrHPH2vi9
Thanks to everyone who completes it.
In this issue:
Thank you once again for your ongoing support - the Trust only exists with your commitment and dedication to the cause.
As always, our contact details are at the bottom of this email.
As pre-season draws to a close and we near the first game, it's great to be back at Whaddon Road. As I write this, I am preparing to head to the final home friendly against Bristol City.
It has been another summer of changes - both on and off the field. Aside from the obvious player moves which happen every year (I still can't bring myself to accept Alfie has gone); we have said goodbye to various members of Wade's support team - Micky Moore and Tom Ware on the recruitment side, and Marcus Bignot from the coaching staff. We wish them all well at Shrewsbury, but maybe not too well.
On a positive note, Russell Milton has stepped up to fill the boots of Micky in leading recruitment alongside Ben Pickford who is our new recruitment analyst.
We welcome Kevin Russell as his replacement as Wade's right hand man, along with Ashley Vincent who has a well-earned promotion to the first team coaching setup. Plus, we will have some exciting input from a coach who has worked at the very highest level who will be working with us one day per week on the training ground.
Off the field, the new matchday catering arrangements are in place, and have been very well received thus far. Welcome to Iglu Bars and Food on the Move.
The new away shirt was unveiled, and I think we can all agree, It's Mint Mush!
Slightly more mundane, but equally as important. A lot of safety and quality of life improvements have been made around the stadium, including finally fixing the ongoing water pressure issues in the HGV Drivers UK (Main) Stand, Paddock, Tunnel and Canteen areas.
Lastly, and most definitely by no means least. Thank you to each and every one of you who has committed to another season with us by buying season tickets. We have broken records for the second successive season, putting us in a great position to support Wade and the team in another League One campaign.
It's been a busy 12 months, so it's perhaps worth it to look back on what has happened off the pitch.
At this time last season, we were involved in discussions alongside Proud Robins over the appointment of Marcus Bignot. We were greatly appreciative of the club choosing to involve us both over a potentially sensitive matter and were grateful for Marcus' frank responses to our questions when we spoke.
It was a touch disappointing that some of the promises made by the club and Marcus, like fully engaging in the Rainbow Laces campaign, weren't followed through, but that won't deter our desire to make our club as open and inclusive as it possibly can be.
One major step along that road has been our formalised partnership with Her Game Too, a fantastic movement that aims to eradicate sexism in football and in football grounds. We're proud that Cheltenham Town has really embraced that and look forward to helping club ambassador Kelly Selby as much as we can this season.
Communication between the Trust and Club has been open and honest throughout the year, with the issue of the cleanliness of the toilets at Whaddon Road a massive concern at one stage early last season. We shared concerns from supporters with the Club and we were pleased to see immediate action taken.
The standard of catering was also a huge bugbear for many, but thanks to the persistence of our FED Dave Beesley, new caterers have been installed with the feedback so far, proving to be extremely encouraging.
Catering formed a significant part of our end of season survey, which received a huge response, for which thank you to everyone who took part and fed back on catering issues, the club shop and - yes - the improvements the Trust need to make.
I have been speaking with Kevin Rye from Think Fan Engagement about consolidating those results into a larger piece of work to gain a real understanding of what good fan engagement looks like. Like me, Kevin has spent time on the Football Supporters National Council, he is also a current board member at AFC Wimbledon.
His expertise will be invaluable in helping both the Trust and Club improve its engagement with the entire fan base.
Fan Engagement is one of the components of the Government's White Paper launched in November 2022, in response to Tracey Crouch's Fan Led Review of Football Governance. Both Dave Beesley and I presented to the review and we have been pleased with the progress so far. It has been a slow burner, but we are hopeful of more news soon.
At the FSA Annual General Meeting in Manchester in June, I was in attendance to hear the Sports Minister Stuart Andrew call it a priority for the Government to speed through this current Parliament. Hopefully, I will be able to share more news in the next Trust newsletter!
There is a hope that 2023/4 will be the season that the Independent Regulator, the football has needed for so long, will be finally made a reality... Watch this space.
Thanks to everyone who completed the survey sections connected with this year's Supporters' Player of the Year vote. As mentioned by James above, we are currently working with Think Fan Experience on putting together a full Fan Engagement Report, including the feedback for the club on these issues before we discuss them more widely - although your Fan-Elected Director has been working tirelessly with other members of the club board to resolve the catering issue and a new supplier is in place for the coming season.
Regarding the feedback on the Trust (and not everyone answered this last section): 23% of those who responded are current members, 55% are those who have never been members (we'd like to see every single one as a 'potential future member') and, something for us to work on: 7% don't know what the Robins Trust is.
In terms of how you would like to hear from us:
- Email: 28.6%
- Twitter: 16.5%
- Facebook: 14.4%
- Robins Trust website: 8.9%
- Robins Nest Forum: 8.6%
- In person Events: 7.9%
- Instagram: 7.3%
- Printed updates at games: 4.9%
- Town Crier: 1.7%
- Other: 1.3%
(The suggestions in the other category included regular updates in the match-day programme, WhatsApp during events, and using as broad a range of channels as possible.)
As email was the most popular of the options, we hope that this newsletter is a welcome development. We're on Twitter @RobinsTrust and Facebook. We're also on Instagram and Threads - search for therobinstrust.
We're interested in the appetite for in-person events, so please complete the survey that we've linked to at the top of this newsletter.
Regarding how often you'd like to hear directly from us, Monthly had an almost Alfie May-like victory in the vote. So we'll keep the newsletter as a monthly offering, unless there is more urgent news - and we will, of course, update the other channels and social media in between.
We also included a free text box for feedback, and it's clear there's work for us to do over the coming season. We had some really kind feedback from many people, but it's clear that there is a desire for the Trust to be much more visible, and clear about what it does, what it's for, and what our vision is for the future. We've been trying very hard to be more visible over the past couple of years, but it's a work in progress, and we can't shy away from that.
There seems to be an ingrained misconception amongst a tiny minority that the Trust is a clique. As the board is formed of people from across the supporter base, this is disappointing, but it's on us to change the perception. The Trust is much more than the board, and we want to represent everyone who follows CTFC, but we'd love to hear from any of you who feel you could give a small amount of your time to join the board.
This is our pre-season as well, so we wanted to put a call out to find out what would you like us to prioritise for the coming season? We've got some ideas, and several projects that are underway, but the people best placed to tell us about things that we might not have even considered are you, our members.
Please send your suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org - or contact us using the links at the bottom of this email.
And we want to hear about anything, big or small, that you feel is important.
- The SLO team of Dave, Chris, and Trust Vice-Chair Jenny have grown as a team, developing similar ideas and goals and working in harmony on matchdays to be of the best assistance to both home and away fans.
- Having the information hut has been very positive. It has been used as a focal point for fans and meeting place for any pre-arranged meetings with fans who have queries. As the first point of contact for home and away fans as they enter the site it has attracted numerous queries each week (around 30-40) and the feedback is that it is offering a particularly useful service. The Information Hut also worked to make the SLO team more visible to fans and helped promote fan engagement. It has acted as a hub for items the team lent out for recharging the digital radios.
- The SLO team successfully lead and co-ordinated the half time cross bar challenge, along with Declan from the Community Trust, for the season and now have a system where there is often a waiting list for this popular event (which we cleared by the last home match).
- The Ambassador Role created for Noah Millington was hugely successful on many levels. It raised autism awareness for the club, demonstrated an inclusive approach to fan engagement, gave Noah a fantastic experience (which his family and teachers have confirmed has been of huge benefit to his personal development), and forged a link with Alderman Knight School which they would be eager to foster moving forward.
- The Autism Awareness fixture against Burton Albion did much to reinforce the above and was a great success all round.
- At the Exeter fixture, we invited two employees from Insight Gloucestershire to experience a match. They were both partially sighted and took advantage of the digital radios. They gave us written feedback of their experience which was very positive and complimentary of the stewarding staff and how they were looked after.
- George, a mature student from National Star College Ullenwood, came along on several occasions during season with a carer to volunteer as a programme seller and then watch the match. This helped George both improve his own personal skills and have a great time. Ullenwood staff felt that this was a positive step and were pleased to have the link forged with their students. Ben was happy to have some help with programme sales too.
- The SLO team, along with Robins Trust, initiated and led discussions around signing up to the HerGameToo campaign which the club have adopted and we look forward to helping support Kelly-Marie and the Club on developing this partnership.
- The team continued to give feedback to the Club on ground catering standards and toilet facilities which the Club have addressed. Both need ongoing review.
The Cheltenham Town Community Noticeboard
We'd like to help connect some of the strands of the wider CTFC community that not all of our members might be aware of: please send any links or information that other Trust members might be interested in to email@example.com and we can include it here. (please note: we don't want this to be a space to advertise commercial products or services).
Who are the Robins Trust Board?
This is quite a busy Newsletter, so we'll run this again, but we wanted to introduce ourselves ahead of the 2023/24 season - please come and say hi if you see us home or away, we're always happy to answer any Trust related questions, discuss your ideas or just chat CTFC:
Chair: James Young - firstname.lastname@example.org - @YoungyJames
Vice-Chair and Fan-Elected Director: Dave Beesley - email@example.com - @DaveBeesley
Vice-Chair and Supporter Liaison Officer: Jenny Hancock - firstname.lastname@example.org - @CheltTownSLO
Treasurer: John Cooper - email@example.com
Jaimie Henderson - @JaimieWH
Leo Hoenig - @LeoHoenig
Sam Lear - @ProudRobins
Simon Watten - @Watten86
General Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org - @RobinsTrust