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NEIL LANDS TOP FANS’ POST

NEIL LANDS TOP FANS’ POST

Ayr fan Neil Bone is the new Chairman of Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS ), the governing body for Supporters Trusts in Scotland. Since its’ formation in 2003 Neil has served on Board of The Honest Men Trust (THMT), during which time the Trust has carried out diverse works such as providing the genesis for the very succesful Ayr United Football Academy and more recently assisting Whitletts Victoria through a difficult phase. Supporters Direct was formed in 2000 as an initiative of the UK Government with a goal to ‘promote sustainable spectator sports clubs based on supporters’ involvement and community ownership’. It aims to create the conditions in which supporters can secure influence at their clubs, and campaigns for the wider recognition of the social, cultural and economic value of sports clubs. Just last year Neil topped the poll in elections to the first Supporters Direct Scottish Council and will now have the job of co-ordinating and presenting the voice of football fans across Scotland. Upon his appointment, Neil commented, “I am delighted to accept this position at this important time for the game in Scotland and believe that no proper solution to the problems the game faces in Scotland can be found unless the voice of the supporters is heard. Individually, there is only so much each of us can do to assist our clubs, and virtually nothing we can do regarding the governance issues at the heart of our national sport. However, when we pool our strengths, locally and nationally, supporters can make ourselves heard. “ That influence was proven recently when Neil, along with two colleagues, presented the Fans’ Plan to the Chief Executives of the SFA, SFL and SPL at Hampden Park and now he will lead SDS in a new project to enhance the voice of supporters in Scotland. As Neil explained, “As recently as last year 50 % of MSPs supported a parliamentary motion that Supporters Direct had provided a valuable resource for football fans. As a result SDS have just secured further funding from the Scottish Government to continue our work and also to help establish a Scottish Football Supporters Network (SFSN).” “The SFSN will go beyond the traditional role of SDS and provide a two way flow of information between fans and Government on a whole raft of issues such as the Offensive Behaviour Act, safe standing, pricing and much more. Both the future of clubs and the future of the game itself is being put at risk by short term vested interests poor financial management and inadequate standards of governance. The current issues at Rangers show that the continual pursuit of big money is not the...

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THMT Backs Roberts Appointment

THMT Backs Roberts Appointment

The Honest Men Trust (THMT) have welcomed the appointment of Mark Roberts as manager of Ayr United FC and given their support to the change of direction at the club, putting a greater emphasis on youth development. The appointment of Roberts and his assistant Davie White, came after the departure of Brian Reid following the clubs’ drop into the Second Division at the weekend. THMT Chairman John Dalton said that the move heralded a new era for the club. “I’m sure every Ayr United supporter will wish Brian Reid well in whatever role his career takes him in future. He’ll be able to look back on his time at Ayr United and point to two promotions and taking the club to the semi final of the League Cup but given the financial state of the club and of Scottish football in general there is no doubt that a change of direction in club policy was required.” “The appointment of Mark Roberts is a positive one. He has a wealth of experience in a playing sense, is well respected in the game and has done a tremendous job in an Ayr United shirt in recent seasons while achieving his coaching badges and I’m sure he will be able to use those skills and experience to enable the young players at the club to develop. Every fan would like a sugar daddy to come in and plough loads of cash into Ayr United to allow us to sign seasoned quality players but we all know that isn’t going to happen. Scottish football isn’t like that anymore and we need to accept that as a reality. It is clear from the experiences of some clubs, particularly in the top flight, that football clubs in general need to live within their means and for clubs like Ayr United, a strong youth policy is required and THMT welcome a greater emphasis on youth development.” “The blueprint for the Ayr United Football Academy was drawn up by THMT and its’ success is testament to all the volunteers who have given up their own time over the past six years to make the Academy the success it is today. One of the key personnel in the youth development programme has been David White and his appointment as Mark’s assistant will give continuity in the pathway from youth development to the first team.” But John Dalton also cautioned that supporters should not expect instant success and asked that time be given for the project to be developed fully. “There are some very talented young players at the Academy and with the right mix of youth and experience the long term future of the...

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Passing of an Honest Men Captain

Honest Men everywhere mourned the passing of a former Ayr United player on Wednesday after it emerged that former club captain Ronnie Coyle had lost his battle with leukaemia. Synonymous with his time at Raith Rovers where he enjoyed unparralleled success in the early 1990s, Ronnie spent one memorable season at Somerset Park in which he captained Ayr United to the 1996-97 2nd Division title. The Honest Men Trust Chairman, John Dalton, said “Ronnie was only at the club a short time, but in that short time he made a great impression on supporters, both on and off the field. Ronnie will be remembered as someone who always found found time for the fans. On the pitch he was a leader and a skillful defender who never gave less than 100%. It is a tragedy to hear that his life has been cut short due to illness. The thoughts of Ayr United fans everywhere are with his...

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Honest Man elected to Supporters Direct Scottish Council

The Honest Men Trust (THMT) board member, Neil Bone, has been elected to the Scottish Council of Supporters Direct, the governing body of supporters trusts in Scotland. Neil topped the poll in the recent ballot held by Supporters Direct to elect the five members of the new Scottish Council that will oversee the governance of the trust movement in Scotland and deal with specific Scottish issues surrounding the game in this country. His election at the head of the poll means that he will serve a three year term on the Scottish Council. Neil stated, “I am delighted and honoured to have been elected to the Supporters Direct Scottish Council and I feel that my election is indicative of the respect that THMT have within the Trust movement across Scotland. The council is a genuine fans representative body, containing a wide spread of experience and knowledge. We will strive to promote sustainable football clubs, based on supporters’ involvement & community ownership.” Neil, the former Secretary of THMT added “I want to ensure that this new Scottish Council hits the ground running and makes a palpable difference to the shared common goals of the Trust movement in Scotland and promote the interests of supporters, whose voice until now has been consistently ignored by those who run the game.” The other four members of the Scottish Council elected were Colin Pike (Berwick Rangers), Alistair Galloway (Clydebank), Greig Ingram (Aberdeen) and Michael Barile (Dundee...

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Ayr United Academy U17s Triumph

       Ayr United 17s have clinched the SFL Youth League Division – with the backing of The Honest Men Trust. It’s a tremendous achievement for the Ayr United Youth Academy and marks their first major trophy just 5 years since it was formed. The Honest Men Trust are proud shirt sponsors of the U17s this season, who are unbeaten in 13 league games and won the league with two games to spare.     The Trust were instrumental in re-establishing Ayr United’s proud youth programme in 2005, presenting the concept of an independent Academy to the Clubs’ Directors while at the same time bringing together some of the area’s major institutions to support a programme that would promote the Academy’s community objectives of health and education for all through sport – particularly football.      Supported by The Honest Men Trust, Ayr College, South Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire & Arran NHS and Ayr United FC the Academy was registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee (Not for Profit Organisation) in December 2005, granted charitable status in March 2006, given the rubber stamp by the SFA in July 2006 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. The youth development programme has expanded rapidly and now consists of 5 pro-youth teams at under 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19 level playing in the SFA Youth Initiative and SFL Youth Divisions, plus 5 further development squads from under 9 through to under 13 age groups. Three girls teams were established in 2009 and have already picked up silverware as the Academy looks to take Ayr United back to the top of the women’s game.      The Honest Men Trust is proud of its role in the success of the Ayr United Football Academy and will continue to support its development of its youth development and Football in the Community programmes as an active partner. Congratulations once again to the all the players, coaches and staff associated with the U17s from the Honest Men Trust and here’s hoping Brian Reid’s men can emulate them in May – with more than a few Academy graduates in the team! For more details about the Ayr United Football Academy visit their website: Ayr United Academy...

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Honest Men Trust – A Fresh Approach

At the recent Honest Men Trust board meeting held at Somerset Park on 22-January, a number of changes to the board were agreed. Going forward, the board will comprise the following members: Chairman – John Dalton Treasurer – Callum Yorke Media Relations – Dave Smith Communications – Colin Inglis Supporter Liaison – Alistair Gemmell Neil Bone Kerry McCallum Tom Slider will continue in his role of Secretary. At the meeting a broad range of topics were discussed. Agenda items included club/supporter relations, SPL league reconstruction proposals, a revamped website and fundraising events for the Youth Academy and local charities. New Chairman John Dalton commented: “This is an exciting period for the Trust and we have a strong board of Directors, motivated and determined to promote the issues that matter to Ayr United supporters. In particular, there is a desire to improve communications to get more Ayr United supporters involved in and supporting Trust activities. We aim to be progressive and give our continued support to both the Football Club and the Academy which has set the agenda for the way ahead for forward thinking clubs to promote youth and community development. Decisions are being taken in the Scottish game right now and the views of supporters  are being ignored by those taking those decisions. We need to promote supporters views and ensure that the views of Ayr United supporters are heard in any debate that affects the future of our...

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