While many fans take an active role in arranging travel and match day activities there is currently no overall or official supporters club at St Pats.
A number of fans met with the club earlier this week to discuss the idea of creating just such a club ahead of the 2009 season.
An overview of the ideas presented at that meeting are highlighted below:
THE ROLE OF A SUPPORTERS CLUB
- to grow the support base at both home and away games
- to help create a better match night atmosphere at Richmond Park
- to fundraise - finance the workings of the supporters' club and to financially support the club itself
THE ROLE OF THE FOOTBALL CLUB
It was felt that while some fans might just want a supporters' club to be run by supporters, it was felt the involvement of the football club would be a big advantage in the setting up and running of such a club.
The club staff would be able to help particularly on the administrative side of a supporters club and also in working together to build a better match night atmosphere in the ground itself.
It was felt that the cost of membership needs to be kept low - say €10 /€15 to attract as many members as possible.
The benefits to being a member should be practical as opposed to involving any immediate outlay or cost – while membership would not give you a club polo-shirt, for example, it would provide you with a membership card that allows priority booking on travelling buses or possibly access to a designated members' section of the ground.
There may be a need for different membership levels and a need to focus once again on successfully building the junior members.
CHALLENGES TO A SUCCESSFUL SUPPORTERS CLUB
Rather than trying to introduce plans for the best ever supporters' club, it should probably start small and grow.
A launch event would be useful to let the supporters know and encourage a level of membership to be effective.
As well as income from membership fees the supporters club would need to look at various means to raise regular funds and clearly record and highlight how these monies are being spent.
The supporters' club would need to maintain momentum and show the value of their work – for example, listing new members in the match night programme or the supporters club awarding a player of the month award on the pitch, but it would be important to show progress to continue to build membership.
It is important to get the right people in place and for the club to run efficiently. Try to avoid too many meetings - it might be just a small number of central people working with committees with a good flow of information throughout.
GOING FORWARD WITH A SUPPORTERS CLUB
It was agreed that we would outline the above thoughts on a supporters club and invite comment and interest from all our supporters.
The coming season brings its own set of challenges and opportunities – times are definitely getting tougher economically but our 80th anniversary year presents us with an ideal opportunity to reach out, promote the club and build the support base. With sufficient interest from fans it is hoped that an official supporters' club would be launched in early 2009.
We would be delighted to hear your thoughts on an official St Pat's supporters' club in 2009 - please forward your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org - all responses would be greatly appreciated.
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