THE Robins Trust have hit out at claims that Cheltenham Town supporters are lacking passion.
Speaking at a recent fans’ forum, chairman Paul Baker and members of the board said the club’s fans fall short when it came to backing their team, who have risen from the Southern League to become an established and fully professional Football League outfit in the past 15 years.
But Trust chairman Clive Gowing said the board’s claims were unfair, although he admits more needs to be done to establish Cheltenham as a ‘football town’.
“I believe passion is something that is not limited to the supporters,” he said.
“If you want a passionate atmosphere it needs to be generated throughout the club and town.
“Barcelona use the famous motto “Mes Que Un Club” (more than a club).
“If we truly want a passionate and vocal club we need to engrain this ideology within the club, fans, town and community. I do, however, firmly believe we can get there but only if we all work hard at achieving these goals and not just expect them to happen.”
Baker also said the amount of money raised by the Robins Trust was disappointing when compared with the likes of Gloucester City, who attract only a small percentage of the Robins’ average home gates.
But Gowing said it was an unfair comparison and defended the work of the Trust, while again accepting that improvements are needed.
“I applaud the work of the Gloucester City Trust and the sterling efforts that it performs keeping that club going,” he said.
“It is a phenomenal achievement to have raised more than £500,000 since their Trust were formed in 2001 – however, to compare this with the efforts of the Robins Trust is both unfair and misleading. The Gloucester City Trust raises money in a number of ways that differ substantially from the way that the Robins Trust raises money.
“Membership of the Gloucester Trust is £5 per month (£60 per year) compared to £12 yearly for the Robins Trust.
“The City Trust also raises money through sales of the club’s matchday programme, golden goal tickets, 500 club, through all club shop revenue, all revenue made by supporters’ coach travel and various social events. While I agree with some of the board’s comments that the Trust needs to increase their membership and presence – something that we as a Trust have been actively looking to do in recent weeks – it is unfair to make comparisons without all the facts being known.”
Gowing believes when everything is taken into consideration, the Robins Trust, which has 155 members, is on a par with Gloucester’s.
“If the total revenues of both Cheltenham Town’s 500 Club and the Robins Trust were combined in the past nine years, in the region of £200,000 has been raised by supporters on behalf of the club,” he said.
“I can’t speculate on the annual profits raised by the club shop, match-day programme sales and supporters’ coaches, but if they raise an annual profit of £23,000 combined then the amounts raised by both clubs on a like-for-like, pro-rata basis are approximately equal.”