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What Is A Fan Rep To You?

There has always been talk about fan representation at Villa and obviously the new guys are men of action and will do something in relation to this.

So I was wondering - and I'd love you all to take five minutes to answer this -

What is it YOU would like?
What to you would a fan rep do?
How should fan rep/s be selected?
What issues would you expect fan reps to deal with?
Should a fan rep be employed by the club or should there just be a caucus of fans to consult?

etc etc. Just basically what you think you would need to feel represented.

ALSO, the flip side, are there those that don't think it is an issue and don't want to see a fan rep at all?

I have mixed feelings strangely enough. I think done right it could be a very good thing, done wrong it could be a nightmare for whoever is doing it. I know some other clubs reps have had tough times, I remember Dave Woodhall talking about a Man City rep who had a nightmare.

The issues start to come when you look at who a fan rep would report to. As far as I can see he/she would need to remain on the fans 'side' and would need to report to the board a couple of times a year or so and maybe with other staff members far more regularly; but on what issues? Whose toes would the rep be treading on and how many issues would there be for fans? If a proper line of communication is set up at the club, then surely if you have a problem with tickets for example, you'd know who to speak to in the ticket office. If there was a problem with merchandise you'd surely take issue with the shop etc etc?

Would a fan liaison in charge of a caucus be an idea? Just how much contact and input do fans need is the question I guess. I know over the years resentments have built up with the old lot and if they had had any sense, they'd have set something up in order to try to build bridges and pacify, but now we don't need to be pacified - time will be the only judge of what follows but we do have people reading our websites, talking to fans and taking an interest in the staff at Villa.

At the moment the whole club is still very much a mix of the 'old brigade' and the 'new regime' there is definitely dead wood at the club and you'd imagine over time there will be major changes, especially in the number of full time people employed. There are a few who are definitely there from the previous 'jobs for the boys' regime. So with those changes and all the issues being resolved, maybe the fans will be thinking less of the fact they've not been represented and more of the fact the team is better, the match day experience has been improved, the kits aren't the tatty shitee from Hummell anymore and most importantly for me and others who have been so involved in the politics, the fans aren't having to protest anymore.

So how much input can the fans have, how much input should the fans have and in what form should this take?

The club feels a lot fresher already and as said, with people like the General doing so much talking and more importantly listening, Randy Lerner and his guys have consulted and bothered to find out what the gripes are and already put some changes into place - and more plans to follow, what is there left to put in fan representation wise?

Issues such as badge changes (a very rare occurrence anyway), kit changes (to me crucial that the fans have a major say in this), issues on seating, stewarding etc and general issues/complaints/suggestions could all be communicated to the club via a fan rep, so there could be a good positive role.

Over to you, what do you think?




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 18 2006

Time: 11:34AM

Your Comments

Perception rules, that's why spin is so important. It's vital that the club appears to be listening to the fans. I mention the word 'appears'. If there was to be a fan representation then that representation has to be valued by Randy & Co. Therefore, the choice of who or what represents the fan base has to be an astute one. Randy & Co will not listen to drivel. It is only proper that the elected fan has to be part of a democratic process and one that is representative of the fans and does not become autocratic. Randy needs to drive this and to be seen as part of the process so that it gives the sense of empowerment to the 'winner'. Whether it be a board or invidiual why can't a series of matchday programmes ask for nominations. These nominations are screened by Randy and a shortlist would then appear in a programme. Each candidate would state their case and fans ask to vote for an individual or indivduals. The process then of feeding information to the winner(s) in order to engage with Randy would begin. Why not have a page in the programme specifically for the fans forum to keep the fans up to date.
Gazvilla
Although far from essential a fans repersentative is a good idea and provides a link between the terraces and the boardroom. I believe He should be elected by a vote of all season ticket holders (I'm not a season ticket holder and only make a few games due to distance ). Spanish clubs work these votes for general manager successfully and whilst I dont believe he should/would have any powers all successful business listen to their staff or customers and the odd idea out of a suggestion box proves a money spinner. It does encourage the feeling we are all in this together and probably have the greatest effect on marketing i.e. as you say with kit and badge issues. This is always going to be easier whilst things are going well so it's probably the best time to get someone installed and give him time get to know the people he'll be talking to. Setting a defined role for him thou would be impossible it's going to be up to the club to use link to the best possible advantage and I'm sure it will change constantly with time . It will be another communication channel between the fans and the owners, which can only be good and as someone once said Its good to talk.
Barabus
Step Forward Mr Fear :) I think this board already represents the fans choices quite well and Mr Fear has done an awesome job representing the majority over the years.
xfranc
I don't think there is any need Mr Fear your doing a grand job already with voicing fans views. and i trust randy & co, so far his action's are speaking louder than words, probably would have been a better idea under our last toerag of a chairman.
chris the villan
To be honest I have never seen the point of a fan board member and anyone who tries to do it could be on a hiding to nothing. A director needs to understand every element of the business and take all issues into mind. A fan plucked from the crowd is going to find it difficult to do this. To see something similar in action listen to any council debate where well meaning people from the public try to tackle issues they know almost nothing about. I think that a board prepared to listen to fans through surveys and discussions is far more likely to get things right.
Gordonsleftboot
Imust say ilike the idea, its something we needed in the dark days under whats his name, for someone to give a fans prospective of what we see and have to put up with can only be good. Vote Silkie.
silkie villain
agree not on the board gordonsleftboot, but to report to the board a couple of times a year so fans know whatever their messages, that they are delivered to the top? What you want on the board is top businessmen doing a top job and sometimes not being a fan of the club might give them more clarity on important issues perhaps!?
The Fear
You got my vote Mr Fear, looking good last night anyway.what shampoo do you use?
silkie villain
Agreed xfranc step forward mr Fear we need someone who knows how we feel, who has sat there and put up with all the whinging and moaning, and who better than a person who already has that job, and who will have the most magnificent of statues erected in the gents loo, it speaks volumes that silkie is in awe of your hair, just the fact that you have not pulled it all out in the frustration of the last few years gets my vote UTF and of course UTV
steff_the_villan
silkie, I dream of needing a shampoo, it is head polish I use these days, hope the glare wasn't too much under the lights! Had a bit of a bonus mind you, one of my table mates didn't turn up so I ordered his turkey dinner, took a photo of it and text'd him it (he was stuck in London) then proceeded to eat it!
The Fear
I am not at all convinced about the merits of fan representation at boardroom level. It may have one or two plus points, but I personally feel that the negatives far outweigh the positives. I have long felt that under the previous regime there was a very anti-fan attitude that spread throughout the club, but what I've heard and read of Mr Lerner I dont think that that attitude and outlook will be allowed to continue.
glensider
Ther are a few different opinions, some reasonable, some not so, but all put forward by fans who want the best for the club. I think in PR terms, some fan representation would be good, although not as a member of the board. It would be an unpaid role. Fear worked tirelessly to bring down the old regime, but strangely I think this will actually work against him with the new owners (I believe there is an old school style network, where the moneymen scratch each others backs). Ellis has no role, other than a title, at the new Villa. But I believe that whilst he is still at the club, Randy would not involve the guy who was most vociferous against the former chairmans reign. Also I am not saying that is right, it is just how I see the situation. I do not see how season ticket holders can vote for the fan to represent us. We could end up with the ludicrous situation of somebody with the most friends being our chosen fan leader. The 'fan' must be chosen by the Board. Unfortunately if it was someone chose by the fans, who did not have the ability to communicate effectively, then the whole idea is dead in the water before it even starts. So this is my solution. The club advertises for a fan representative. Applications will be by letter, email, or online. The club shortlists the most likely looking responses and holds official interviews. The strongest candidate is elected. As the position is not actually a job (in effect it is a labour of love) the actual role will develop over time, rather than be to a set agenda. The difficulty for the 'chosen' one is that they will need broad enough shoulders to know, that it is impossible to please all of the people, all of the time. Usually by pleasing the majority, you can alienate the minority. Unfortunately, it is then often that the minoritys become the most outspoken and can appear to be the majority. The selected 'fan' has to be someone with the abilty to understand and cope with this. It is a tough call and is one of the reasons that fan representatives of other clubs have suffered.
utv-sotc
Fair play Mr Fear, it was a fantastic night only spoilt by the clown having a pop at Gary Shaw, But these men are legends and hope with the new regime they get there deserved recognition.
silkie villain
I was annoyed by some of the chaps moaning in the toilets at the end saying it was disgraceful the rest of the team of 82 weren't there, after all, we all bought our tickets knowing who the guest speakers were. Seems all some fans can do is moan. Also the ones chanting Blue Nose to Spinks all the time were out of order I thought, he is a Villa legend.
The Fear
I must point out I'm not touting for a job at Villa with this article! Some involved at Villa who are talking about fan representation will read it and the thread in the forum though, so it might serve some purpose. After the years of VFC and AVSA, I'm not totally sure what if anything I would like to do, the grief from the one site got repetitive, boring and legally went beyond what should be said anywhere. I don't agree that what I've done Ellis wise will have marked my books with the new guys, I believe they agree largely that Ellis had to go and have been very positive towards me since the takeover. Just with me I'm not sure I've got the time. The Vital Network is taking off and as one of the directors, I couldn't not give it 100% attention at this stage of the business. I'd love to be involved in some ways and in others I'd worry that running a site and being as vocal as I am might be compromised anyway. There is also still a great deal of the dead wood at Villa, I'm sure these guys will be rooted out over time, especially when we get our new CEO, ones like Dave Ismay were 'jobs for the boys' and people who I despise, I think things will be much MUCH better when the freeloaders and yes men all have their bags packed for them and I'm 100% sure they will be gone as they were never up to the job and will be found out.
The Fear
I dont believe in supporter representation on the board. You could argue we have had that in Steve Stride. Hes's a supporter isnt he. An official supporters club based in a new facility at Villa Park with members having regular meetings with the board to put forward the fans views is what i would like to see.
Erod
What ever happens the role should not be paid. How could a fan's rep be independant of the board if it is paid by the board? I think overall the idea has merit, but clearly the actual reality of the job could be fraught with problems. However, a fans voice in the boardroom twice a year would never be a bad thing. Under Ellis Board meetings used to consist of Ellis, his son, his doctor, his solicitor and the manager (who's concerns were largely ignored). I do not think this will ever be repeated under RAL, but since Ellis has alienated a large section of fans it is important for them to be reincluded and represented.
The Usual Suspect
I wouldnt wish the job on my worst enemy to be honest. Just look at the stick Fear got when VFC was running "He doesn't speak for me" blah blah. Whoever got the job as fan rep would most probably be slated.
DeanoVilla
Whay am i going to do with these vote Deano placards now?
silkie villain
Agree about Spinky, the bloke needs to earn a wage and its only because of Herbert that hes not earning it here.
silkie villain
a great opportunity to get the loyal fans point across to the club..needs to be done sensibly and in a constructive manner though from both sides.........
ernshaw
Give me a powerful CEO and that will do me. A true professional, someone capable of overseeing and directing.
glensider
 

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