Newcastle United are set to bring supporters back into the boardroom as part of plans to reintroduce the Club's official Fans' Forum for the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.
The Forum, which last operated during the 2008/09 campaign, is being re-established in order to enhance and structure dialogue between fans and the Club's senior management team and will consist of 15 supporters and seven club and sponsor representatives.
Three of 15 new supporter seats will be offered permanently to established fan groups - Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST), NUFC Fans United and Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA) - while all fans can apply directly for the remaining 12 individual seats which represent different segments of the Magpies' diverse fan base.
The Club's management team will be represented by board members John Irving and Lee Charnley, and heads of department from safety and security, ticketing, media and the Club's Foundation, as well as representatives from club sponsors Wonga.com.
The launch of the Forum, which will meet on a quarterly basis from September, follows months of consultation with supporters and fan organisations, as well as research covering a number of clubs across Europe. The Club has also worked closely with the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) to develop the Forum's new design.
Lee Marshall, PR and supporter liaison manager at Newcastle United, said: "Supporters are the lifeblood of any football club so introducing a new Forum which will enable Newcastle fans to share their views and ideas with the Club's decision makers is a very positive step.
"Direct, structured communication is vital to building a strong, sustainable relationship with our supporters and we are looking forward to working closely with them for the benefit of Newcastle United."
Unlike many forums at other clubs, which are voted in by a panel or elected by fellow supporters on the strength of written applications, applicants to the new Fans' Forum at Newcastle United will be required to select an individual seat for which they meet criteria (ie. Milburn Stand representative must hold a valid season ticket in the Milburn Stand).
They will then be selected at random from all qualifying applicants, enabling every Newcastle United supporter to stand a chance of being on the Forum.
All fans will be able to communicate with the representative who most closely represents their needs, as well as raising proposals for agenda items, via a revised Fans section on www.nufc.co.uk, which will be introduced shortly. Meeting minutes will subsequently be published online for all fans to read.
Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters Federation, said: "The Football Supporters' Federation has long advocated constructive dialogue between clubs and fans, and we have worked at all levels of the game to encourage the development of a variety of structures to enable the voice of supporters to be heard.
"We welcome the initiative by Newcastle United to launch their new Fans' Forum, and will watch with interest how it develops. Genuine attempts to involve and harness the views and suggestions of supporters can be of great mutual benefit to fans and club alike.
"To get the most out of it will require commitment and positive engagement from all sides, and we wish the process well."
Peter Fanning of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, said: "One of the aims of NUST is to develop formal representation between supporters and the Club.
"The Trust is therefore happy to play an active part in the new Fans' Forum. It is seen as a positive move and the Trust hopes it is the first step towards Newcastle United developing a meaningful and structured relationship with the fans."
Steve Hastie, on behalf of supporter coalition group NUFC Fans United, added: "The introduction of a Fans' Forum at Newcastle United is an important step in developing a positive two way communication process between supporters and the Club.
"The challenge as always is to ensure that such forums produce positive outcomes and NUFC Fans United hopes that all those who participate do so with the aim of ensuring that it is a success."
FANS' FORUM STRUCTURE
Please find a full list of supporter seats on the Newcastle United Fans Forum below:
Length of occupancy
|NU Supporters Trust||Awarded to NUST||Permanent|
|NUFC Fans United||Awarded to NUFC Fans United||Permanent|
|Disabled Supporters Association||Awarded to NUDSA||Permanent|
|Supporters Clubs||Secretary/chair of any supporters club (minimum 20 members)||Two years|
|Young persons rep (under 21)||Must be 18-21 or under and a member of STH||Two years|
|Over-65s||Must be 65 or over and a STH at SJP||Two years|
|Milburn STH||Must be a season ticket holder (over 18) in the Milburn Stand||One year|
|Leazes STH||Must be a season ticket holder (over 18) in the Leazes Stand||One year|
|East Stand STH||Must be a season ticket holder (over 18) in the East Stand||One year|
|Gallowgate STH||Must be a season ticket holder (over 18) in the Gallowgate Stand||One year|
|Long-distance traveller||A match attendee who travels more than 50 miles to SJP and attends at least five home games per season||Two years|
|Away STH||Must be an 'away' season ticket holder||One year|
|B&W Member (non STH)||Any non-STH member||One year|
|Equality representative||n/a||Two years|
|Corporate member||Any corporate seasonal member||Two years|
HOW TO APPLY
The Club is now welcoming applications from supporters for the above vacancies.
Supporters who can commit to attending four meetings at intervals throughout the season for the specified term should send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org:
// Preferred Forum seat
// Full name
// Supporter number
// Contact number
The deadline for applications is 5pm, on Friday 9th August 2013. The selected supporters will be notified in due course and full details will be made available at www.nufc.co.uk.