A Few Words Which Might Be Helpful



The voice of experience: MARK DINGWALL




I’m a Rangers fan. I was on the board of the Rangers Supporters Trust for a decade and have edited the Rangers fanzine and website Follow Follow for yonks. Hartlepool is your club and you have different circumstances from what we went through but I hope a few pointers might be of help to you. We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them.

1: THE POUND IN THE BANK IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
The nearer you get to the money the nastier people become - equity is king in football clubs and if you don’t have shares or money you’ll find yourselves sidelined from the big decisions. Start collecting cash now.

2: DELIVER FAN UNITY
We created the Union Of Fans to bring in the supporters groups and websites who wanted to fight the Spivs we had in charge. You won’t agree on everything but move together as far as you can in the same general direction. The punters love unity - nothing is more discouraging that seeing fans fight amongst themselves.

3: CHOOSE YOUR PARTNERS CAREFULLY
You’ll probably have to partner up with someone with a fair bit of unencumbered capital (i.e., they haven’t borrowed it from somewhere else) - if you can’t find they have much of a track record then alarm bells should go off.
"We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them"

4: GET SOMETHING FOR YOUR MONEY
Be careful how you structure things - if you fundraise in a certain way you won’t be able to donate it and get shares in return. Ideally put in your cash in return for shares or the money being regarded as a loan. It’s a crisis so there is the pressure just to put money in a bucket and hand it over to the current lot and that’s understandable. But long-term it would be a mistake. Attach strings.

5: ALWAYS HAVE A POSITIVE MESSAGE
Even when delivering bad news. We gave the Spivs a real hammering but always finished off with a bit of positivity to give people hope and activities to engage in.

6: GIVE PEOPLE THINGS TO DO
Build up your activist core with leafleting at the ground etc. One of the things that worked well for us was making huge leaflets which people could hold up at 18 and 72 minutes (Rangers formed in 1872) - at halftime and when the team came out. Every home game is a fantastic opportunity to fundraise and get your message over.

7: UNITY OF COMMAND
Get your message straight - get a spokesman who will be the contact point and make sure others who have been in the media in the past. Direct enquiries to him and don’t dilute the message.

8: DISCIPLINE
Aggro turns off far more people than it turns on. So keep all your activities lively and fun.

9: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Read everything - League regulations, Articles of Association, Accounts, old court cases, etc, etc. It’s amazing what you can find. Be prepared for any eventuality and know your rights.

10: THERE’S A WORLD OF HARTLEPOOL FANS OUT THERE
Use the internet to connect with them - accountants, lawyers, researchers - build a database of fans online. It’ll all be useful.

I know these are dark days for your club right now - but they are also great days when you will see the best in your fans and if you work together you will have a better future for the club.

Best of luck!