Cambridge United's Board of Directors provide an update on club communications following consultation with supporter and media representatives.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Godric Smith commented:
"The Board recognises that the most important people at Cambridge United will always be the fans. It was the fans who effectively saved the Club 15 years ago along with the generosity of a few notable individuals. It is the fans whose passion makes the Club what it is today. We are proud to have a CFU elected Director on the Board representing them. It is a model identified as best practice by Supporters Direct for other Clubs to follow.
Equally we also know that relations with our fans have frayed at times over the last year for well documented reasons. We are keen to learn lessons but most importantly we want to take some significant steps forward - to help improve transparency, strengthen links with all fans and hopefully build greater trust.
Rather than just announcing any plans we felt it was important to listen first, so last month we held meetings with fan and media representatives to hear their thoughts. The Board really valued the frank and constructive feedback. After discussion at the recent meeting the Board enthusiastically and unanimously agreed to focus on four things
First - and perhaps most importantly - the Board is keen to establish a new Fans' Parliament at Cambridge United. The Parliament would have elected representatives from all different parts of the fanbase and the ground who would meet regularly with Directors and staff from the Club to put questions to them on behalf of supporters. These meetings would be filmed and made widely available on the Club's digital channels.
We have agreed to take this initiative forward with CFU who will test the appetite for it with fans in the first instance. If they get the green light CFU would then oversee and run any election process so that it is genuinely independent from the Club. We would then agree and publish the terms of reference with a view to the first meeting of the Parliament being held at the beginning of next season (19/20) - or earlier if possible. We will give a joint update with CFU on the initiative after their meeting next week.
We do believe there can be real value to the whole Club in establishing a Fans’ Parliament. Bradford City and Wolves have both adopted this model recently and we are keen to pioneer this approach along with them.
Second - we will reinstitute Fans Forums this season and plan to hold the first one early in the New Year. We want these to be open to all fans and will ensure that there is strong representation from both Directors and Staff at the Club. We will publicise details of the first meeting later this month.
Third - we believe it is also important to give fans the chance to ask questions of the Board on a regular basis. We have started to produce a Monthly Newsletter which has been well received. Dave Matthew Jones, as the CFU Fans Representative (and other Directors as appropriate) will answer a number of questions from fans through it. These can now be sent to Dave.Matthew-Jones@Cambridge-United.co.uk.
Fourth - we have listened to feedback from media and fans that they want to hear more regularly and consistently from players, staff and Directors through our own channels and theirs. Hopefully people have started to notice an increase in this (the 'unsolicited' recent Gary Deegan Box Set has obviously been a particular highlight...) and we are all committed to this continuing.
Finally we have also decided to establish the Fan Engagement Group, which has met twice in recent weeks, on a more formal basis. It will now meet periodically through the season to enable us all to review progress and ensure that we can continue to listen, learn and adapt as necessary.
Taken together we hope that this will see an improvement in how we communicate as a Club to our fans. And finally thank you for the fantastic support as always, particularly over recent weeks. The contribution it has made to our recent upturn in fortune on the pitch cannot be overstated."
Cambridge Fans United Chair, Robert Osbourn added:
"I am very pleased by today's announcements regarding the club's plans for a much more open dialogue with fans about the running of the club and its preparedness to respond to fans questions."
"Of particular interest is the plan to establish a Fans Parliament, something proposed by Cambridge Fans United, initially, and I look forward to the role which CFU will have in developing and overseeing its introduction."
"There is plenty to be done and, of course, it is action, rather than simply words which will determine success. Nevertheless, this does show real progress on issues that fans think are important."