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29 July 2013, 11:42
Newcastle United are bringing supporters back into the boardroom as part of plans to reintroduce the club's official Fans Forum.
The Forum, which last operated during the 2008/09 season, 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 fifteen 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 twelve 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, 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 (i.e. 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.
Steve Hastie, on behalf of supporter coalition group NUFC Fans United, said:
"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."
The deadline for applications is 5pm, Friday 9th August 2013.