RI52 is presently being compiled, and will hopefully be out in time for our home game against Limerick on July 19. As always we are looking for your articles, opinions, ideas, pictures, cartoons, piss-takes and anything else that is vaguely (or not!) relating to the Reds, LoI or football in general.
If you have an article or piece you would like to submit please send it to:
The deadline for contributions is July 13.
For 10 years Briogáid Dearg have set the standard for Ultras around the country, eschewing the type of clichés that have often dogged other groups in favour of the original and innovative ideas and designs that continue to set them apart from their peers. This weekend marks the group’s 10th anniversary, and all Reds are encouraged to get into the New Stand early this Friday night for the game against Sligo.
The following interview originally appeared in last month’s issue of Red Inc.
Undoubtedly one of the brightest developments regarding the Reds over the past 12 months has been the emergence and foundation of what is now known as the 1895 Trust, the Supporters Trust that was launched last March in Tolka Park. We caught up with acting Committee chair Lee Daly in advance of the Trust’s first AGM last week, who kindly took time out of his busy schedule to provide us with this interview.
Reds Independent: Lee, many thanks for taking time out to provide us with this interview. It only seems like yesterday that many of us packed into the Tolka Bar before the Cork game to hear the thoughts, ideas and importance of a Supporters Trust at the Reds. Can you describe what the last few months have been like being involved with this vital project?
Lee Daly: Well they’ve been busy for one thing! After the mandate was given by 40-50 odd fans at that launch , we formed a steering committee to help drive the trust forward, register it legally and then launch it. We worked with ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) to become registered which took us until February. We then held some fundraisers to cover the cost of registration, opened membership to fans and then held our launch night on March 28th.
The next step is our AGM this Friday the 26th of April where we will appoint auditors, approve a business plan and elect a new committee of management for the trust. So as I said it’s been busy but everyone has been very supportive so far and some great work has been done by the acting committee.
RI: So why a Supporters Trust for the Reds, and why now?
LD: A Supporters Trust has a role to play at ever club in Ireland and throughout the world. The fact that it’s inclusive, democratic and non-profit makes it the ideal model no matter what fans want to do, whether it’s lobby on ticket pricing or security, as is the case with the Premier League Trusts like Spirit of Shankly, take a stake in the club, as at Swansea, or outright own the club like FORAS do at Cork City.
Throughout the entire history of the Reds we’ve come perilously close to extinction on a number of occasions, usually because we’ve depended on a narrow set of people to fund and run the club. That can’t go on forever so forming a Trust we feel can help bring stability in the long term by giving fans a structured voice in the operation of the club. As for why now in particular? It was just a matter of a small group of people who felt it was a good idea to go ahead with, and through the first meeting, the launch and now the AGM, that group of people is growing larger and larger.
RI: You’re on record saying that both FORAS and Supporters Direct have been of great assistance to the acting committee of the 1895 Trust. What sort of support both practical and in terms of information have they provided?
LD: The most important resource we’ve used is the Supporters Direct handbook, which every fan should read. It gave us great advice on setting up and what to do. Niamh O’Mahony, who is a former board member of FORAS and project manager of a project on Improving Football Governance through Supporter Involvement, is currently developing an Irish equivalent and that will be launched soon. Both Niamh and Sean O’Conaill, also a former FORAS board member, have been at the end of the phone with advice and guidance, on anything from printing up leaflets to lobbying politicians to holding events.
RI: Have you been impressed or encouraged by the support shown by Shels fans for the Trust over the past 6 months or so?
LD: The fact that we now have over 100 members signed up, a little under two months after opening membership, speaks for itself. More than just joining up though, fans have also given advice and help on a range of issues. Football fans are also engineers, academics, public servants, plumbers, and every other occupation under the sun, all of which the Trust and the club may have to call on at some point. Speaking personally, that has been the amazing thing to see.
RI: The consensus from reading the forums and listening to people at the games is that they see the 1895 Trust as an overwhelmingly positive thing and something they are eager to be a part of and get behind. What would you say to Reds out there who might be considering adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the Trust?
LD: People are right to be sceptical when it comes to any developments at their club, given it’s such an important thing to our lives. The Trust always wants to hear from people with criticism and concerns so it can try and address them as best it can. In relation to one reservation I’ve heard myself, which is that some people want to see if it’s a success before signing up I’d say two things in response. The first is that what success looks like will be dictated by our members through debate and discussion. Fans should absolutely hold the Trust to account in achieving its goals but people need to play a part in setting them too. The second is that the more people who are involved, the more ambitious the Trust can be. 10 fans working together can achieve a lot but not as much as 100 fans or even 1000 fans.
RI: We understand you’ve met with the Board of Management at the club and have spoken to them about the Trust and the big issues facing Shelbourne now and in the future. What has their reaction been?
LD: Again it’s been positive and supportive and they have allowed the use of Tolka to hold meetings and collect memberships on matchdays. Shels Chairman Joe Casey also spoke and gave a message of support at the Trust launch which the acting committee were grateful to him for doing.
We haven’t gotten into specifics with the board about where exactly the Trust could fit into the bigger picture, as that would likely require a lot of work and serious commitment on both sides. The Trust is only now getting established properly and part of the remit of the incoming committee will be to put together a plan to ensure the long term stability of the club, which of course we will have to work with the board on achieving.
RI: Going back to what you said about the ambitions of the Trust being somewhat dependent on the numbers involved; Notwithstanding it being very early days, and conscious of what you’ve said, what do you think can be the realistic short-term and long-term goals for the Trust? Or is it a little pointless setting such parameters at this point?
LD: For rest of this season, we have three goals: running a fans survey, launching a charity/community partnership and assembling a plan on collective ownership of an asset/ the club. In terms of the long term aims, as Shels fans we have to be ambitious, as the problems facing the club are so large that only big ideas are going to address them.
Of course big ideas and big ambitions need to be backed up sustained planning and work to make the vision actually happen. Myself and Niall Farrell, who is our acting PRO, were over at an FC United game recently. They’ve raised nearly 2 million pounds to build a new stadium and are one promotion off the conference but at the end of the day, they are football fans just like we are. They have the benefit of the right organisation and planning to achieve their goals, which comes from their values and structures.
RI: The membership fee structure for the Trust seems very fair. Can you tell us a little bit about this and the reasoning behind it?
LD: So the basic fee is €15 a year but that is a minimum. We recommend that people pay €50 but they can pay more or less than that, so long as it’s more than €15.
The reasoning behind that is we want to be as inclusive as possible whilst also giving the opportunity for those who can contribute more to do so.
A lot of people have raised concerns that this “isn’t enough” given the debt of the club. However the membership fee is for the running of the Trust and its activities, not to fund a takeover of the club or contribute to the club, as the SSDG already do a good job on the latter.
If a serious opportunity to takeover the club in a way that is sustainable and responsible arises, we will launch a fundraising scheme for that purpose. We are researching the community share schemes at Portsmouth and FC United to see if we can do something similar here.
RI: I really enjoyed the launch night just before Easter. It was terrific to see past legends and fan favourites in attendance and hear them speak so fondly of the club, as well as having both Kevin Rye and Niamh O’ Mahony present on the night. Overall were you happy with how the night went? Was it a success?
LD: It was a great night and I enjoyed listening to the players, Kevin and Niamh immensely. We also got nearly 30 new members signed up and nearly sold out of our first batch of 100 badges. There was some great coverage of the event and particular credit must go to Simon Crowe, a Shels fan who works as a cameraman, who assembled a top video of the night.
RI: Finally, a question not specifically about the Trust! How do you see the Reds faring this season?
LD: It’s been tough so far but as an optimist, I’m predicting the draw in Cork as turning point. I can see us taking something from Limerick and also beating UCD and Bray, which would put a different complexion on things and put us 10th. Having said that it’s gonna be a tough year no matter that, and I’d take us finishing 10th with little complaint right now.
To join, or for further information concerning the 1895 Trust, check out www.the1895trust.com, or speak to one of the volunteers found at their booth at the Drumcondra End on match nights.
Since the departure of Alan Mathews last week, a number of falsehoods have been stated in the media which cast slurs upon Shelbourne FC and its supporters. These should be rejected in the strongest possible terms and this is again another situation where the board should come out publicly and be seen to be against the vilification of the team’s supporters. As a group, Reds Independent are concerned with this form of black propaganda and the elements within mainstream media that have facilitated this campaign of misinformation against our support since last Friday. The tarnishing of our fans reputation is unacceptable and something that cannot be allowed pass without challenge.
Claim 1: Alan Mathews was suffering intolerable abuse on the internet and social media and he would not continue to put his family through this.
Lets be clear about this – we would not condone any abuse towards the family of a manager. However, this is not even what has been claimed by Alan Mathews – in his carefully worded and self-serving propaganda campaign he has said that he himself was on the receiving end of “vile and poisonous abuse” but it would appear the only individual to have introduced his family to the debate is Mr. Mathews himself. It is quite apparent that this is being done so in order to portray our former manager as a victim and also to deflect attention away from his abject failings as a football manager.
Note, he does not say his family suffered abuse, just that he would no longer put them through having to see what supporters of the club that employed him really thought of him. If they only want to accept the praise and financial rewards, but don’t expect the catcalls when patience with the manager runs out after a prolonged series of abysmal games over 2 seasons, that is a personal decision for the Mathews family to make. If that was truly the case, one would have expected it would have been taken sooner. The sensitivities of Alan Mathews to a peaceful protest, designed to minimize financial disruption to the club, should not be used by either Alan Mathews himself or lazy journalists/bloggers to disparage Shelbourne’s supporters.
It is also at odds with what Mathews himself claimed in newspapers less than 2 weeks before his resignation.
“You just have to be man enough to deal with it. I’m long enough in the game. People are entitled to their opinions…if they want to have a pop at me that is fine”
The veracity of the “intolerable abuse on the internet and social media” claim is just as perplexing. Made by Alan Cawley on his RTE blog, and alluded to by Pat Dolan on the MNS broadcast of Monday May 20th. Alan Cawley has been challenged to substantiate this claim and over 24 hours after publication has failed to defend or respond to this accusation.
A quick check of the hashtags on twitter, for example, that one would expect to find such abuse on, if it existed, shows nothing remotely matching this description.
This should be corrected by Mr. Cawley and RTE as a matter of urgency.
Even before Reds Independent issued a statement calling for Alan Mathews resignation many of the other claims made in the days since had already been addressed by the editorial in latest edition of Red Inc
Claim 2: This is personal
RED INC 51: The idea that the board would re-appoint Mathews after last season is unacceptable. The fact that they have re-appointed him for this term, with the necessity of a reduced budget after he failed so spectacularly last year using greater resources, defies belief. Before anyone says it, this isn’t personal…it’s a pure value for money argument. Here is a bloke who proved last year that he was incapable of producing either acceptable results or decent football on a relatively large budget. And now he’s expected to get more with less? It’s madness.
Claim 3: The fans have unrealistic expectations
RED INC 51: The supporters are well aware of the tough financial circumstances that continue to dog the club, and would be largely supportive of cutting back. What fans do not get is going with a manager who has demonstrated that he is not up to the job with decent funds and players at his disposal, where logic dictates he will struggle further with minimal means.
Further to this in a poll taken on RedsIndependent.com on Mar 7th not a single respondent believed that Shels would finish in the top 4 this season, which was Alan Mathews own target pre-season. 83% believed that Shels would finish 9th or below! How much lower should expectations be?
Claim 4: Those who called for his head might be shocked that Jose Mourinho is not coming through the door to replace (Mathews).
RED INC 51: What we needed was a manager or coach with experience of working with young players, and top Junior league footballers. Somebody who has experience of working off a low budget, with a track record of getting the very best out of modestly talented footballers. Alan Mathews is not that man.
We look forward to putting this phase in the club’s history behind us and continuing to support the team, new manager and board.
Reds Independent today calls for Shelbourne FC manager Alan Mathews to tender his resignation to the Board of Management forthwith.
It seems apparent- and has been for some time- that the manager is in no position to preserve our Premier Division status, and this along with the terrible style of football employed, his poor results record, an obvious lack of discipline, his inability to get the best out of players and his barely-disguised contempt for both supporters and volunteers renders his exit from the club a necessity at this juncture.
As a group, Reds Independent expressed our concern and reservation during the off season regarding the re-appointment of Alan Mathews, and since then our suspicions have been confirmed to the extent that we believe his position to be untenable. In particular, we have always questioned the logic of re-appointing a manager, who has already failed to produce adequate returns on much greater resources, to operate on the necessity of a reduced budget. A forewarning was evident all last season, a campaign which saw the Reds finish with just 2 wins from our last 13 league fixtures. In this regard, the Board of Management must shoulder the burden of responsibility in making such an unsuitable appointment, and it would be interesting to hear exactly what their managerial selection policy was during the winter.
We now find ourselves languishing at the very foot of the table, adrift from safety continuing last season’s end of year slide and making a mockery of the manager’s suggestion that he had put together a side capable of finishing fourth. The league position, the wanton indiscipline within the squad and the dreadful predictable style of football are not only unacceptable and driving supporters away, but pose a serious threat to both the club’s Premier Division status and more worryingly, our long-term future as a senior football club.
Reds Independent also reject the recent assertion by the manager in the media that the supporters of the club crave success. While no doubt there may be a small few who are of this mindset, the vast majority of the fans are far more realistic and have far more modest ambitions and expectations. No, what we as supporters crave is stability not success.
On this basis, we call on Alan Mathews to do the honourable thing and what is best for Shelbourne Football Club by tendering his resignation with immediate effect.
Red Inc. Issue 51 will be on sale tomorrow night at the UCD game, outside the ground, from 7pm up til kick off, and again outside Tolka prior to the Bray game on Monday.
This month’s issue features an interview with Lee Daly from the 1895 Trust, a look back at Derry away, Lars, Belfast Celtic, as well as all the usual vulgar shit.
It is a 32 page edition, for a mere €2.