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Over recent weeks and months ArabTRUST has received a great deal of criticism particularly on social media from certain areas of the Dundee United support. For some we are seen as being complicit for all they see as being wrong at the club and that all we are concerned about is protecting what they refer to as our lanyards and perks. The board of ArabTRUST (who are all unpaid volunteers) strongly refute these allegations and feel that these viewpoints do not represent what ArabTRUST is trying to achieve. ArabTRUST has a clearly defined set of objectives around youth and community development, representing our member’s views and increasing our shareholding at the club. The board of ArabTRUST have a responsibility to ensure we work towards all of these objectives and while parts of these are under our direct control we do need to work closely with the club to achieve the best outcomes for all concerned.
Turning the clock back 12 months we were publicly critical of the way the club was being run and called for change but recognised that this would have to be done in a controlled manner so that it was in the best interests of the club. At that time despite many supporters calling for change we did not receive any backing from other fans groups for this stance. We were also accused of saying we wanted to take over and run the club which was never our aim and we gave no indication that we wanted to do so, although we would obviously like to see supporters having a greater influence in how the club is run. From others we were accused of becoming too political and that we shouldn't become involved in such matters and so there is obviously a difficult balance to strike between all the different viewpoints across the fan base.
The stance we took at that time put a clear strain on the relationship we had with the club particularly at boardroom level and made it difficult for us to progress work on our wider objectives. Since that time however we have been working quietly in the background to firstly propose and then get acceptance from the board of Dundee United for a replacement Associate Director as Colin Stewart had stepped down from this position with ArabTRUST. Stuart Campbell has now taken up this role and over the few months since his appointment has worked tirelessly to build working relationships with all key personnel at the club from the boardroom down so that we could make real progress towards our aims and objectives. In the areas of youth and community development major announcements on the progress being made are due over the next few weeks. These are a result of considerable efforts of not only the ArabTRUST board but also collaboration with other groups in and around the club such as DUDA, the Business Club, United for All charity, United Ladies of Tannadice as well as the club themselves. The initiatives being announced will help strengthen both youth development and also work in the community at the club. This will help the club build towards a successful future both on the park and in the local community and we feel work in these areas is important no matter who owns and runs the club.
There is no doubt that there are significant challenges facing all areas of the club at this time and that fresh leadership at the club could give it a much-needed boost. Until such time however that there is properly costed and funded proposal in place to take-over the club the view of the ArabTRUST board is that we should maintain a professional working relationship with the club and our overriding belief is that only through continued dialogue can positive change be delivered. This doesn't automatically mean that we will agree with and support all the decisions made by the club and we will continue to raise questions, concerns and challenge the club as we feel is appropriate. We also want to try and continue to grow our shareholding in the club as ultimately this should give our members a greater influence on how the club is run, this however is not under our direct control as the club is a private limited company and as such the decision as to who can own shares in the club resides with the full directors.
On the park while some performances may not have been to the standard we would like to see there is still so much to play for until the end of the season and it is vital that supporters give the team their full backing during the remaining matches to ensure we have the best opportunity of returning to the top flight of Scottish football at the first time of asking. No matter what division we may be playing in and accepting that ultimately it is a personal choice we would urge as many supporters as possible to purchase season tickets ahead of next season as we see this as a vital part of supporting the club and giving the manager the best opportunity to build a squad ahead of the new season.
We recognise that each of the supporter’s groups around the club have their own views regarding what they would like to achieve and the issues they see in and around the club. While we may not agree on everything where there are areas of common ground it surely makes sense to work together and provide a United front to the club. ArabTRUST remain fully committed to participation in the fan engagement processes set up by the club and would encourage all relevant organisations to actively participate in these. They may not currently be perfect but by working together in these forums we can hopefully start to make improvements and address the issues that cause concern across the support.
At the end of the day all of us who volunteer to help the various organisations in and around the club do so because we care deeply about the club and want it to be successful both on and off the park. ArabTRUST members play a vital part in allowing us to support various projects connected to the club via their subscription payments and we reaffirm our commitment that all membership income for the next year will be used to support youth development at the club. Support for ArabTRUST via merchandising sales and other fundraising activities has also allowed us support community initiatives such as Show Racism The Red Card, Dementia support projects, schools football and food bank collections to name but a few.
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