We have received the following statement from the Football Supporters Association (FSA), in relation to ongoing disciplinary proceedings relating to The Shots Trust and a subsequent representation from the Trust at the recent Rushmoor Borough Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee, where observations were made regarding the current status of the football club.
Whilst we will be in a position to update supporters with regards to the latest status of the lease and ground development plans as soon as we are in a position to there will be no further club comment with regards to the FSA and procedures with regards to the Shot Trust Board.
It is not normal practice for the FSA to comment on its internal disciplinary proceedings, outside the formal reports on its hearings, but is making this statement because the matter has been put into the public domain by other parties.
The FSA received two complaints about the outcome of hearings held by the SHOTS Trust into two unrelated incidents involving members of the Trust Board. One involved an inappropriate message made on an i-phone and the other involved an alleged racist social media posting made before the person concerned was a member of the Trust Board. These complaints were considered by an FSA panel at hearings which considered both oral and written evidence, and heard submissions.
In the former case the panel accepted that the comment was not made by the Board member who owns the phone, but recommended that the owner should apologise to the recipient of the message for allowing the phone to be used by a third party in that way. In the latter case the panel concluded “That the post was racist even if it was not intended as such, and that it was reasonable for (name redacted) to interpret it as such, and that the Shots Trust should have made a finding to this effect”
It required that a letter of apology be sent to the person referred to in the comment, and decided that the SHOTS Trust membership of the FSA be suspended until such time as the Trust Board had adopted a diversity policy and attended diversity training.
The FSA campaigns to eradicate racism from the game and seeks to educate and rehabilitate individuals who make oral or written racist remarks, whether or not they are intended to be such. We work with Kick it Out to deliver training tailored to address specific cases. In our experience, this approach is more successful than punishment or disciplinary action alone. In order to assess the impact and effectiveness of the training the professional judgement is that it should be delivered face to face. The COVID regulations have unfortunately delayed this training for the SHOTS Trust who will remain suspended from membership of the FSA until the training has been completed to the satisfaction of the trainer.
The FSA confirms that the Trust and the members involved have undertaken the recommended actions and the only thing outstanding was the diversity training.
Subsequently the Trust made an appearance before the Rushmoor Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss matters relating to the football club. The proceedings were in the public domain via a video stream. As part of their opening presentation, the Trust referred to the complaints considered by the FSA, in which, and again later in the discussion, the Trust representatives gave misleading and incorrect information to the Committee about the outcome of the FSA hearing into the second complaint.
As a result the FSA asked the Trust to write to the Council confirming that the Committee had been given misleading and incorrect information and to write to the original complainant apologising for that, which they have done.
We have been informed that the person responsible for the posting in the second complaint has now been asked to resign from the Trust Board and has done so. The FSA does not intend to comment further on these matters.
Football Supporters Association Chair and FA Council supporters’ representative