Fifteen years and still going strong15 years ago, this month, the Trust was preparing for it's launch at Norwich Castle. Here is a potted history.
CANARIES TRUST - 15 YEARS AND GOING STRONG
NORWICH CITY SUPPORTERS TRUST
In 2001 the owners of Norwich City Football Club, Delia Smith and Michael Wynne-Jones asked an FSA representative, a member of the Shareholders Association and myself to attend the inaugural Supporters Direct Conference at Birkbeck College.
Within a month SD chaired a meeting of a variety of NCFC fans groups where it was agreed to try and establish a Supporters Trust at Norwich City and later that month, at the invitation of the Club, a presentation was made to the NCFC AGM which received popular support from the NCFC Board and the shareholders present. This was followed by an open meeting, post-match, at Carrow Rd to hear a presentation from SD and the NCFC Chairman. There was a degree of scepticism from many fans present but enough were in favour of setting up Trust The following January it was agreed to launch the Trust formally with an open-meeting in July.
In the summer, needing to raise funds, the Club announced a share issue and asked the Trust if it would delay the launch to maximise the uptake on the shares before the Trust got involved in fan share purchase. In return, they offered the Trust the opportunity to hold the meeting at Norwich Castle adjacent to the NCFC Centenary Exhibition and most importantly the ability to continue to purchase Ordinary shares at any time and to fund raise at Club events.
Prior this open-meeting a fan loaned the new Trust £500 to make its first share purchase and we were under way but it wasn’t all “plain sailing”.
Within a couple of years there were complaints from some NCFC supporter groups centred mainly on different Trust initiatives. The Club called a meeting, under an independent Chairman, of the nine major supporters clubs, to discuss their objections at the how the Trust was operating and to allow the Trust to respond. The Trust had to explain the difference between itself as a formalised democratic Industrial and Provident Society and the other groups but the mistrust lingered.
As a celebration of the first ten years of the Trust, Supporters Direct helped the Trust arrange the first informal “twinning” with an overseas fans group, “A la nantaise”, the first democratic fans group of FC Nantes, a Ligue Un team which has the same colours and same nickname as Norwich City .
To formalize the partnership, we signed a common text expressing our common vision of football, our belief in community ownership and good governance in football.
Over the years the Trust has continued to use its funds from subscriptions and events to purchase shares from the Club on behalf of fans but in 2011 the club increased the price of an Ordinary share from £30 to £100. Two years later the Trust was informed that the Club would no longer make ordinary shares available to the Trust but suggested that it might like to purchase shares from individuals seeking to sell their shares back to the Club.
The Trust Board had negotiations with the Chief Executive to explain the Trust’s constitutional position regarding subscriptions and share purchase. The outcome was the Trust could continue submitting future applications in £2000 blocks but with the caveat that each application would now require the agreement of the NCFC Board of Directors.
To retain access to NCFC shares the Trust agreed to assist the Club with the numerous enquiries from individuals regarding share sales and purchases by allowing the Club to re-direct individuals to the Trust website. The site would hold a list of those individuals seeking to buy or sell shares and the Club would deal with all the legalities of any share transfers.
The new price of shares duly led the Trust to change its policy to include share purchase from those individuals wishing to sell shares on the website and the Trust has now made “The Fans” the 14th largest shareholder in Norwich City Football Club
In 2015 to coincide with a new Chairman and a closer relationship with the Football Supporters Federation, the Trust AGM agreed to renaming the Norwich City Supporters Trust the Canaries Trust and undertake a change in profile and presence with co-opting representatives from Forces2Canaries, Proud Canaries and BarclayEndNorwich .