Whitehaven trust plans slammed

The wife of Whitehaven chairman Dick Raaz has hit out at fans looking to set up a supporters trust for the club.

Posting on the club’s unofficial forum, HavenFans.co.uk, Mrs Raaz slammed the timing of the trust’s announcement, which signified its intentions last week and informed fans of a public meeting which has been organised for Friday September 4. The trust stated its aims as raising funds for the club and giving supporters a voice at board level.

Addressing fans on the site, Mrs Raaz said: “I don’t know if a Trust is a good idea or not, but for heaven’s sake you haven’t impressed me with your timing or your insinuations.

“Do you realize where we are now, and what progress the Club has made this year? We are facing our final two games of a season that has seen growth in the Club’s position financially, and its attention to the fan base…and this can’t wait until after our team has finished its mission?”

Whitehaven find themselves in a position where they can realistically finish top of the Championship table and the last 12 months has seen two products of their local area snapped up by Super League clubs – Gregg McNally to Huddersfield and Kyle Amor to Leeds – further indicating the strength of rugby league in Cumbria, so far denied a top flight berth since Workington’s brief tenure in the mid 1990s.

However, the on pitch performances appear to be covering up off-field problems, with rumours strife that the club are in significant debt.

It has led to the idea of a supporters trust to provide support and funding for the future.

Spokesman for the group, Dave Farrell, said: “This is about the supporters having a legitimate method of influencing what happens to the club and being able to communicate more directly with the board.
“We don’t have an owner-chairman at Whitehaven, a rich sugar daddy who can pump a personal fortune into getting the best players and redeveloping the ground.
“But what we do have is a tremendously loyal and devoted set of supporters – and I think a Supporter’s Trust is a great way to channel the efforts of those fans so that we can be as constructive as possible in helping take the club forward, both in terms of how the club is managed and generating more income.
“A supporter’s trust is about channelling the passions of supporters into a forward thinking organisation that looks at the long term – offering solutions to the club and the community.”

Rochdale, who entered administration in the close season, are now run by a supporters trust to make the club more sustainable, while Championship 1 rivals Swinton Lions are also administered by a trust.

More than 150 football and rugby league clubs in the UK have a dedicated supporter’s trust, with more than 40 having board representatives, some of which are directly elected by the trusts.

However, the announced plans appear to have ruffled a few feathers at the Recreation Ground.

Mrs Raaz added: “If you truly have the best interest of the Club in mind then support its players, coaches, sponsors and board members through the rest of this season. Afterwards, we can then make determinations regarding what investments we wish to make and what changes we would like to see.

“But, my goodness, the Team has not let you down this season, have the respect to stay focused on what they are working to accomplish.”

Raaz took over at the club last year, saving the club from possible administration. The club were placed under a transfer embargo earlier this season due to salary cap irregularities.

Whitehaven travel to Widnes on Saturday knowing a win would guarantee they finish ahead of their Cheshire rivals, while also putting them in with a huge chance of topping the league table, repeating their success of 2005.

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