Why should I join ArabTRUST?
A lot of questions were asked about the reasons for having ArabTRUST in 2003 when we began and this is best summed up by a statement made at a Supporters Direct conference held a few years ago:
“Directors, managers and players come and go but the supporters stay with the club forever. Supporting a club is an emotional thing. You can change many things in your life but once you have selected your club then that's it. You have to experience the ups and downs that go with your choice. For the first time, a Trust gives the rank and file supporter the opportunity to be part of the club and to have a greater say in how the club is run."
What is a supporters’ trust?
A Trust is a democratic, not for profit organisation of supporters, committed to strengthening the voice for fans in the decision making of the club by means of the share structure of the club concerned, and strengthening the links between the club and the community it serves.
How will it achieve this?
ArabTRUST will raise funds from its members. A proportion of these funds will be converted into shares in the Club on behalf of its members. It will then use the voting rights of these shares to gain influence in the affairs of the Club. It will also invite existing shareholders to join ArabTRUST and ‘pool’ their voting rights with those of ArabTRUST to maximise their collective influence. Our membership will decide how these shares are voted, on a ‘one member one vote’ basis – regardless of the size of any individual shareholding. This will be achieved through the election of an Associate Director or Director to represent ArabTRUST on the board of the Club.
What is the difference between ArabTRUST and other supporters’ organisations?
Most supporters’ organisations are constituted as unincorporated bodies, i.e. a club or association. This is fine for the purposes they were intended for but does not provide the robust legal structure and protection for members that a trust does. Also, a club or association cannot own property so would not be able to own shares.
What are the objectives of ArabTRUST?
These are as stated in general terms in the first question above. Specifically, ArabTRUST will raise funds, primarily to help with the youth development programme at the Club. It will also support football related local community initiatives, where appropriate. A proportion of the funds raised will be converted into shares at the Club. One long term aim (now achieved) is to acquire a significant shareholding in the Club, leading to supporters having elected representation in the Dundee United Boardroom. This presents a real opportunity for fans to assist the Club in a positive and constructive way, whilst at the same time gaining some real influence in the affairs of the Club through the share capital of the company.
Will the membership fee be payable every year?
Yes. The current membership fee, or subscription as it is also called, has been set at £15 and is payable on the anniversary of your joining date each year.
If I decide not to renew my subscription at some future date will I get my previous subscriptions returned?
Unfortunately no. In common with all annual subscriptions these monies will be used for specific purposes during the period of subscription and cannot be refunded.
What is my £15 used for?
All money received whether, by annual subscription, donation or fund raising event will be used as directed by the membership in line with stated objectives of ArabTRUST. Any administration costs will be tightly controlled. ArabTRUST is registered with the Financial Services Authority and strict audit and review procedures will ensure that membership funds are used only for the purposes described in the objectives.
When will I get my shares?
Shares in Dundee United will be purchased and owned by ArabTRUST membership collectively, not individually. As a member you will be entitled to ownership and voting rights in ArabTRUST, and in effect Dundee United, as long as your membership is current.
How will ArabTRUST achieve a voice in the boardroom?
Now that ArabTRUST has acquired a reasonable shareholding, it has secured a seat on the Board to represent the views of its membership. The Board of the Club however do not have to agree to this request, but ArabTRUST will continue to work with the Club to consolidate its position on the Dundee United Board.
Who will represent ArabTRUST on the Board?
Initially, because ArabTRUST achieved its ambition of securing representation on the Dundee United Board so far in advance of its own target, the Associate Director representing ArabTRUST was appointed on an interim basis by the Society Board. Now, the membership of ArabTRUST elects their representative. He, or she, will be subject to election every 3 years. While this representative may eventually assume the legal duties of a full director, they will also have a specific role in ensuring that the views of ArabTRUST, and therefore the supporters, are represented in the decision making of the Club.
How can you ensure that ArabTRUST is representative of Dundee United supporters?
Membership will be open to all Dundee United fans. It will not be factional or run by a clique. All of the principal supporter groups have given their backing and are actively helping to get it established. Indeed ArabTRUST has been a unifying force for all these groups. The Society Board have been drawn from a wide range of volunteers and are subject to re-election after a maximum of 3 years by ArabTRUST membership at its AGM to ensure that the Society Board remains representative of the membership. While ArabTRUST is completely independent from the Club, the board of Dundee United is also fully behind the concept.
How can I help right now?
The Board still require assistance in running ArabTRUST and raising funds. If you have any particular skills, which can help or have a fund raising idea, please contact the Secretary who shall ensure that the Society Board are made aware of you.
How many shares will ArabTRUST try to obtain?
This depends on the success of our fund raising and the availability of shares. Initially, the late Dundee United Chairman Eddie Thompson kindly agreed to donate some of his personal shares to ArabTRUST. Our preferred medium term option is to acquire new shares via a new share issue. However, we shall seek the views of the membership on how to proceed with share purchase.
At present ArabTRUST owns 1807 shares at a cost of almost £60,000 and after the Thompson family is the Club’s largest shareholder.
As Cath Thompson has, and will retain a majority shareholding, how can a representative from ArabTRUST make any difference? After all, what the Thompson's say, goes, doesn’t it?
The ArabTRUST representative on the Board of Dundee United will have a voice and will put forward the views of ArabTRUST's membership and vote on behalf of the members. Ultimately, the Chairman will make the decisions but he will take account of all input, including that of the ArabTRUST representative. ArabTRUST will also be looking into the possibility of obtaining the proxy of other small shareholders to give ArabTRUST increased voting rights and increased influence.
How many members do you expect to get?
That is difficult to answer but at other, smaller Scottish clubs there are memberships ranging from 40 to around 200. Surely a club the size of Dundee United can expect to rally the support of more than that.
It is generally accepted that any fans’ organisation having a verifiable membership of around 7.5% to 10% of the average home support is indeed representative. This would indicate that ArabTRUST would require a fully paid up membership of around 500 to make it truly representative.
I would like to put in more than £15. Does that mean I get more of a say?
ArabTRUST will accept any amount over and above the membership fee and is very grateful to those who have already donated sizeable sums. Those who have done so however, have done in the full knowledge that ArabTRUST is run on strict democratic principles, on the basis of one member one vote, regardless of the size of their donation.
How will the committee be elected and can I be on to the Board of ArabTRUST?
At present ArabTRUST is being run by an elected Board. Once elected Board members will serve for a period of three years but a third of the Board members must stand down or stand for re-election each year at the Annual General Meeting. The Board also has power to co-opt up to 3 non-elected members who have special skills required by the Board eg, Legal or Financial expertise.
When can I attend an ArabTRUST meeting?
Board meetings are held approximately once each month but it would be unrealistic to invite the entire membership to attend these but if you as a member wish to come along to a Board meeting you should contact the Secretary to arrange this. All members will, of course, be invited to the Annual General Meeting where many major decisions will be made and election of Board members will take place. Also, throughout the life of ArabTRUST, it may be necessary to obtain the views of the entire membership on a matter and in this case a special meting would be arranged. We intend to hold quarterly meetings with the membership and also with representatives of the Board of Dundee United.
How can I vote on the various issues and election of Board members?
As stated earlier, ArabTRUST is a truly democratic organisation based on the principle of "one member one vote" for all important issues. Arrangements will be made for those unable to attend meetings to cast their vote. This may be by proxy, postal or electronic means.
How will ArabTRUST communicate with its members?
For those members on email we will dispatch correspondence electronically and for those without this means of communication we will send newsletters. Dundee United has also advised us that they will allow us the opportunity to publish articles via its weekly eNewsletter, Club Website and matchday magazine. There will of course be the A.G.M. to which all members will be invited and also, if necessary special meetings will be arranged if important issues require debate prior to a decision being made. ArabTRUST is also on the social networking sites Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. We often post on the forums The Arab League, East Football and Dundee United Mad.
Where can I get more information on Supporters Trusts generally?
On the Supporters Direct website or by writing to:
Supporters Direct Scotland, Robert Owen House, 87 Bath Street Glasgow G2 2EE
Telephone: 0141 353 1615