Last weekend saw the annual Supporters Summit take place at St George’s Park, Burton. Organised by the FSF and Supporters Direct the summit represents an opportunity for supporter’s organisations up and down the country to get together to discuss common issues with a view to introducing changes which will benefit supporters and the greater good of the game. Never has the supporter’s movement been so strong. As a Supporters Trust originally set up with the assistance of Supporters Direct and affiliated to the FSF, NUST have always sent a representative to the annual summit and on occasions have been asked to lead on issues pertinent to Newcastle United but common to fans up and down the country. The summit is usually divided into two days- Saturday discussing the issues of the day and Sunday with the respective organisations formal AGM.
A full report of the summit will follow but as an affiliate to the FSF the NUST Board feel it is important to bring to supporter’s attention one of the motions passed at the FSF AGM on Sunday. Everyone reading this article will no doubt be aware of the criminal charges which were announced last week in relation to Hillsborough. This follows on from the second Coroner’s inquest which concluded in June 2016 and ruled that supporters were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence. NUST vice Chair Peter Fanning wrote an article for TF last week and one of the themes of the article reflected on how at the time of Hillsborough football fans up and down the country were generally demonised and collectively labelled ‘scum’ by those in authority regardless of the fact that the great majority of us were just ‘normal’ people holding down ‘normal’ jobs going about our day to day ‘normal’ lives. Whilst it was Liverpool fans who suffered it could have been any of us. Think of Spurs away in the FA cup 1987 as a well- known example, it had the potential to be a Hillsborough….it could have been us!
Supporters will also be fully aware of the attempts of the Sun newspaper to discredit supporters immediately following the tragedy, with its front page article headed ‘the Truth’. Leading with allegations claiming that fans picked the pockets of victims, and attacked workers trying to rescue victims, including punching, kicking and urinating on police, fireman and ambulance crew. In short, it was the fault of the fans. All blatant lies, which were not only an insult to Liverpool fans, but to the wider football family showing exactly how they viewed football fans at the time.
The Sun has long been boycotted in Merseyside and campaigns such as ‘Total eclipse of the Sun’ have increased awareness of the boycott and encouraged retailers not to stock the paper. Over the last year both Liverpool and Everton football clubs have banned Sun journalists from their grounds.
It was no surprise therefore to see a motion, proposed by Spirit of Shankly and seconded by Everton Supporters Trust, at the FSF AGM on Sunday requesting ‘affiliate supporter’s groups and trusts to call on all retailers and vendors of newspapers in their area to stop selling the Sun’. Equally it was no surprise to see the motion passed unanimously.
As an affiliate to the FSF we are happy to support the motion and call upon any other NUFC fans groups affiliated to FSF to join us. We will be liaising with our colleagues at the FSF as to how the campaign is to be taken forward nationally and will report back.
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUPPORTERS TRUST