Trust Update and Christmas Message

Message from Martin Weiler, Trust Chair

With the festive season approaching and having been in my new role for nearly two months I thought this would be a good time to provide an update on what the Trust has been up to since our AGM.

Firstly though, from all the Trustees, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our members. We hope you have a really enjoyable break with your families and friends.

Everyone at the Club recognises that winning football matches is critical. That’s why it was no surprise when I took over as Chair at the end of October that there was unease at some poor results, especially at home. Media interest was intense to say the least.

I started receiving e-mails and letters almost immediately – and was very struck by the wide range of views our members hold. Some wanted drastic action; others a steady ship. It was good to have face to face discussions with members and hear these views at first hand.

What I can assure you all is that how we are doing on the pitch is given every consideration by both the Trust Board and the Club Board. The types of discussion you have on the terraces are mirrored at the highest level.

As Trust Chair I will take up a place on the Club Board as a Director once my application to meet the ‘fit and proper person’ test has been completed. But in the meantime I have been attending as an observer and been very impressed at the regular sessions the Board has with Paul Tisdale. There are honest, challenging exchanges with everyone trying to work together to bring success on the playing front.

There can be no doubt that injuries have dealt us a difficult hand so far but the Board is doing all it can to provide budgetary certainty so the Manager can maximise opportunities like the signing of Reuben Reid.

And our recent form is certainly starting to bear fruit backed by our amazing supporters. Anyone in the away end at Cheltenham will not forget the atmosphere for a long time. And we now have that elusive home win to take into the Christmas period.

Of course the Club Board, on which four Trust Board members sit, has to consider an enormous range of other issues too. Redevelopment and the construction of the 3G pitch at the training ground inevitably and rightly take up much of our time as both projects progress. Also we have to be ready to move fast when a new challenge emerges. Safeguarding, as you can imagine, has been given top priority in the light of the sex abuse scandal football is waking up to. Massive thanks to Trust and Club Board Director Paul Farley who leads on this and has done an amazing job – and as a volunteer too.

In early December we had the first meeting of the Club and Trust Boards – part of the agreement we have struck on our working relationship. We discussed the Club’s Business Plan – which will set out our priorities and budgets for the next five years. We will be discussing a draft plan in the New Year.

Part of my new role also involves attending meetings of the English Football League (EFL) alongside Club Chair Julian Tagg and General manager Justin Quick. My first meeting was an eye opener and showed just how important it is to be influencing in the wider football world. Youth development was a key topic and it was fascinating to see the gulf between some Championship Clubs who were happy to rely on foreign imports and Clubs like Exeter City who put such store on our Academy.

I also took the opportunity of being in London for the Orient game to meet up with Supporters Direct (SD), the national organisation that supports the Trust movement. I was delighted to learn that SD is going to launch a new initiative to support Trust owned Clubs like us.

The Trust Board has also been busy. We held our first Fans Forum since our AGM and this gave a crowded Heritage Lounge every chance to voice their views on matters on and off the pitch. It was good to get a clear steer from those present on the Checkatrade Trophy – suffice to say the vast majority did not like this season’s set up.

The Trust is continuing to look at ways we can build our membership and a lot of effort is currently going into our new Corporate Member offer. We are delighted that local businesses are keen to join us – this will help give us an even stronger community feel. There will be a formal launch in the New Year. Fantastic work is also going into developing our Junior Grecian membership – the future lifeblood of our club.

There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that has to go on too. So we have interviewed for a new Trust Secretary and hopefully can announce an appointment after Christmas. We have also set up a new Communications Group, led by Pete Martin, to improve our communications with members and help attract new members.

As I said at the start results on the pitch are pivotal. But being a supporter owned community Club means we make no apologies for our community outreach work. I have been really proud of the amazing range of things the Trust has delivered over the past couple of months. Examples include: The St James Park Heritage Project, Collecting for Exeter Food Bank, Our Dementia themed match v Luton and supporting the City of Sanctuary and their work to help refugees settle in Devon. All these help us underline our claim to be ‘no ordinary football club’.

Once again a very Merry Christmas and here’s to a happy and successful 2017.

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