Earlier this week, the football club announced that it had reached out to supporters’ groups, and would be meeting with each of them over the coming weeks as part of its plan to repair the damage caused by its signing of David Goodwillie. We welcome this approach, and are one of the groups who have already met with the club’s CEO to begin these discussions. We’d like to give you an overview of what was discussed, and outline the key points we raised in our meeting.
The meeting was positive and productive, and we found the club open and willing to listen to our ideas and concerns, and also to understand our point of view on issues where we disagreed. The process of rebuilding the club’s reputation and the trust of fans and the wider community is likely to be challenging, but we are encouraged that there is a genuine desire to work together towards this goal.
While many fans have called for the resignation of those involved in this transfer, we have resisted doing so ourselves. Instead, we have challenged the remaining board members to take responsibility for their part in the transfer by supporting positive change, to make our club better. We are keen to work together towards a long-term sustainable model for the club, with governance and decision-making structures that are fit for purpose and which will prevent any repeat of the recent failures. There should be no place at Starks Park for anyone unwilling to support this process, and it is essential that the four remaining club directors – John Sim, David Sinton, Tom Morgan and Steven MacDonald – accept that they failed the club, its fans, and its community on January 31st and commit to the process of change.
We set out four immediate priorities for change, and look forward to these being incorporated in the club’s rebuilding plan alongside the priorities of other supporters’ groups:
- Rebuilding trust with the club’s volunteers, by demonstrating that the club’s values will guide everything that the club does, and that it still stands for the things that led volunteers to devote their time and energy to it in the first place. Many (but not all) volunteers have returned to their roles, every one of us deserves to feel that the club has learned from recent events and will not let us down again.
- Establishing clear roles and accountabilities at board level, a clearly defined decision-making process, and greater diversity at board level – not just in terms of their demographics, but by becoming a leadership group who represent the whole of the community that our football club serves, and put the community at the heart of every decision it makes.
- Ensuring a strong focus on fan engagement, by ensuring permanent democratic representation at board level for supporters. It was notable that our elected Supporter-Director and our Supporter Liaison Officer were the first to resign in protest against the signing of David Goodwillie, and the club must ensure that people with their integrity are listened to – the voice of the fans must be taken seriously. We hope that Raith Rovers fans can continue to be represented by people of Andy Mill and Margie Robertson’s calibre.
- Extending the existing arrangements for fan engagement to include a permanent ‘structured dialogue’ process. Building on best practice seen at other Scottish clubs and beyond, Raith Rovers should establish mechanisms to consult with supporters before difficult decisions are made, including a representative group of fans who can be brought into board-level discussions to provide feedback and fresh perspectives. Accountability for decisions should remain with the club’s board and staff, but with a checkpoint built into these decisions to ensure they are fully thought through.