All you ever wanted to know about Supporters' Trusts.
What is NVST?
The Northwich Victoria Supporters' Trust (NVST) is the trading name of Northwich Victoria Supporters Association Limited, a Supporters' Trust set up in May 2004. The Trust is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965-78 - registration no: 29741R.
What is a Supporters' Trust?
Supporters Direct define a supporters' trust as:
'a democratic not-for-profit organisation, made up of supporters, committed to strengthening the voice of supporters in the decision making process at a club, and strengthening the links between the club and the community it serves.'
In other words, NVST is made up of members, who are Vics fans, who vote to decide the Trust's policies. NVST can raise issues and suggestions concerning the club and its interface with the community of Northwich and Mid-Cheshire.
What is the difference between a Supporters' Trust and a Supporters' Club or Association?
The main difference concerns the way that a supporter's trust is set up. NVST is democratic and not-for-profit. It clearly states that one of its main objectives is the securing of representation at the club and strengthening the links between the club and the community.
As an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), registered with the FSA, there are certain requirements it has to meet and other things it can not do. These are defined in the constitution.
NVST can own shares or property,
It is a vehicle which could ultimately own the football club or a significant shareholding.
It could sign contracts with the club for shares received and set the terms of
The legal assets of the Trust are held "corporately", not vested in individuals.
Members have limited liability (and so do elected officers in most cases).
The full force of the law can be brought to bear on anyone who misappropriates the funds.
Obviously not all these factors come into play immediately, for example, in the past there has been no opportunity to buy shares in the Club. However, the advantage of a Supporters' Trust over a Supporters Club or Association is that it is robust and flexible so that it can cope with changing circumstances.
This means that a Supporters' Trust is supported by a legal and constitutional framework which means that the achievement of its objectives is possible. A Trust actively tries to influence its Club and seek representation by being a professional and credible body of supporters, with something to offer. It builds on the fundraising and social principles of supporters' clubs / associations, but has clear direction and objectives.
What is an Industrial and Provident Society?
An Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) is guided and controlled by its constitution. Ours is based on the 'Model Rules for a Football Community Mutual' drawn up by Cobbetts Solicitors specifically for Supporters Direct.
An IPS belongs to its membership...literally. Each full member owns one share in the Trust, which has a value of £1. Therefore every member has an equal share and equal say.
The constitution guarantees that the Trust must operate for the benefit of the community it serves. Trust members and officials will not profit from the Trust.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulates Industrial and Provident Societies, via review of annual submissions and independent financial reviews. They also monitor any changes to the Model Rules to ensure that the Trust continues to operate in a totally democratic, accountable and transparent manner and that it is open to all.
Who are Supporters Direct and what is their role?
Supporters Direct is a government initiative, funded by public money. It is based in London. Their aim is to help people "who wish to play a responsible part in the life of the football club they support".
Supporters Direct help groups of fans to set up Trusts to develop the links with their Clubs and the Community. They help new Trusts during their initial set up period, both financially and by providing the benefit of previous experience. By sharing best practice, new Trusts do not have to 're-invent the wheel'.
Once set up, Supporters Direct are on hand to offer support, advice and guidance on the running of a successful Trust and dealing with issues as they arise.
For further information on Supporters Direct, please see their website at www.supporters-direct.org.
How many other Trusts are there?
As of 25th April 2012, there are over 170 Trusts across England, Wales and Scotland.
These are at football clubs from the Premiership to non-league. 100 hold shares within their football clubs, whilst 65 have supporter representation within the boards of their clubs.
26 Trusts own or control their clubs including Brentford, Chesterfield, Rushden & Diamonds, Stockport County, Exeter City, AFC Wimbledon, AFC Telford, Newport (IOW), Enfield Town, FC United of Manchester, Chester FC, Runcorn Linnets and Clydebank.
Why should we be part of Supporters Direct?
There is a cost to NVST to be part of the Supporters Direct family. We are required to pay an annual fee. However, we believe that the benefits gained from Supporters Direct justify this expense.
We have access to a huge pool of knowledge, including legal and financial advice.
Supporters Direct arrange training days and seminars to help us to run our Trust professionally and effectively.
They can (and have) provided financial assistance when we set up the Trust.
There is also an informal network of other trusts, which has already provided us with support and advice. For example, Wrexham's Trust helped to run our election in 2005. There are regional meetings with other Northwest Trusts, where we can pick up good ideas, share experiences and spot the pitfalls before we fall into them!!! NVST hosted this in September 2006.
More recently, clubs such as Scarborough, Runcorn Linnets, Methyr etc have provided support and guidance to help us prepare plans that can be implemented should Northwich Victoria cease to exist.