On August 30 the Trust welcomed Tom Smith to its monthly Board meeting to discuss some ongoing Trust and fan initiatives; also to discuss The Nest and its current situation and if there was anything, non-financially, the Trust could do to help.
The fan Initiatives
The Trust explained its proposal, supported by Steve Stone, to organise a Norfolk Food Banks collection pre-match at the end of the current season but was awaiting a decision on which match it should be. Tom Smith was very supportive of this initiative and offered some practical ideas on how it could be achieved.
The Chairman asked whether the Club had initiated any action regarding the Off-side Trust which campaigns for the safeguarding of children in Sport and Tom reported that this was high on the “to-do” list.
Co-opted fans group Barclay End Norwich, with the Trust’s support, spoke about the current campaign, emanating out of Celtic FC, to provide free sanitary products in the women’s toilets throughout the ground. Tom knew of the campaign and the clubs which were supporting it and promised that the Club would investigate the practicalities and costs involved.
On the subject of atmosphere at Carrow Road singing and flags, Tom said how well he thought the experiment of a “singing section” at the 1st Round match against Stevenage had gone, especially given the small attendance. He had been watching from several vantage positions and the noise was apparent all around the ground. He said how impressed he had been with the other BEN initiatives like the pre-match march and was wholly supportive of anything to improve the atmosphere at Carrow Rd.
Tom recognised that communication on these issues hadn’t always been straightforward, and thanked members for their commitment to work openly and constructively with the Club on safety-related issues. The Trust suggested that the Club could improve communication by nominating a single “go-to” person with whom they could liaise regularly – this might be a win for the Club too, as it would streamline the process of responding to new initiatives. Tom noted that this might require staffing changes but that it was a good idea, and that he would ask the Club to investigate.
Regarding the location of fan-group banners around the ground, Tom explained there was a balance between the cost caused by any loss of advertising space, but in principle it had his support.
The issue of the Academy and its progress was raised especially with respect to information on players, match coverage and programme coverage. The Trust believes that the appearance of successful academy students progressing to the first team has heightened awareness of the Academy and its students, and the Club should make more of it. Tom agreed that this season has shown the value of the Academy; the Club would need to look at available personnel to promote it further.
Tom provided an up-date on the Nest, on fund-raising initiatives and on the future. He expressed admiration as to how far the scheme had advanced since the first visit when the grass on the site was almost waist-high. Phase 1 is now up and running after an expenditure of £1.25 Million and an amazing 2000 people had used the current facilities. Tom explained that Phase 2 – involving a floodlit 3G pitch and a fully-equipped Sports Hall – will maximise the potential of the site. Much of the £9.6m funding is in place, but more is being sought from a variety of sources including business sponsorship and philanthropic giving.
Meanwhile, community participation via fund raising like the recent Run Norwich 10K race remains incredibly important. The manner in which this event has grown to be a calendar event in Norwich indicates the public support for the scheme and smaller regular events such as those organised by NCFSC all help.
There was then a general discussion with suggestions from Trust Board members on how funds might be raised, varying from roof-top advertising as the Nest was under the flight-path of the airport, through to the possibility of Academy Bond holders donating their annual “rewards”, to the Trust organising a fans groups five-a-side.
Once again Tom Smith has shown how involved he has become with all things Norwich City.