‘Clear Blue Skies’ thought the article to be somewhat “terse”, so rather than let it go to waste, I publish a short interview with new Chair to Stockport County Supporters’ Trust, Ashley Simpson:
A lot of people have a similar background as supporters and season ticket holders but very few show an interest in the Co-op. What prompted you to get involved?
I am committed to Stockport County and have been dedicated to the ‘Co-op concept’ for some time. I am also Vice-Chair of Manchester and District’s Executive Committee of the Co-operative Party; and work as a consultant on behalf of the Co-operative College, specialising in membership development of the network of Co-operative Schools throughout the Country.
For those who have lost interest or simply don’t know, what is the Supporters Co-op? Isn’t it just a continuation of the trust, whose ownership saw us fall into administration?
Some supporters may ask why the need still for a supporters’ co-operative? The simple reason is the fundamental principle that a football club is better off if there is a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship with its’ supporters and the community it serves. Supporters-Direct have recently said in stressing the importance of regrouping and changing to respond to future needs, that the Co-op is “from the fans, those who understand most of all what matters about their football club……. owners, players and managers come and go but the fans are constant is a truism”.
Since administration, the Co-op has been quietly working behind the scenes. What is the vision of the current board? Does it have any specific aims?
Under the stewardship of the out-going Chair, Graham Privett, the initial goal had to be survival and ensuring that the concept of supporters’ governance was not cast into the past – but instead grasped as to a model that can bring significant benefits to the Club. The focus of the Co-op has been published as:
VISION: To be the democratic and representative voice of the supporters of Stockport County Football Club, and to strengthen the bonds between the Club and the community which it serves.
OBJECTIVES: To obtain a stake in Stockport County Football Club.
To have a Supporter-Director on the Board of the Club, democratically elected by all supporters
To hold the owners to account, and try to ensure that the Club is run sustainably and with mutual benefit to the local community.
PRIORITIES: To be fully prepared to take action towards these objectives should any opportunity arise
To take forward our social goals and community development
To be ready to set up and run a “phoenix” club if needed.
How does the board function? Who is involved, who does what and how much time is spent?
Ashley Simpson (Chair)
Mary McGee Wood (Secretary – Independent)
Pauline Lawson (Treasurer)
Graham Privett (Events)
Matt Cook (Membership)
Adrian Stores (Marketing and fundraising)
Mark Savery (Accounts and website communications)
Ian Watts (Affiliate – Heritage/SCAN)
Involvement is via formal Board Meetings, Development Days, conference calls and getting together on matchdays. All directors are volunteers and committed to the principles above. Each has a portfolio of activities that are addressed on a weekly basis.
What do you say to those who dismiss the idea of fan organisations such as the SCFC Co-op? Why is it important to put aside prejudices from the previous regime?
Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative is part of a wider movement of organisations established by supporters of football clubs now stretching not just across England, or the UK, but also across Europe. I believe “Co-operation” is the most sustainable business model due to the 7 values and principles which underpin a Co-operative enterprise. This vehicle enables football fans to have the ultimate voice on how their football club is run, thus enabling them to fulfil their own destiny in their community.
For more information about the Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative, including how to join: visit the website at http://countysupporterscoop.co.uk/Join/join.htm