Friday, April 01, 2011

Are you being (well) served?

One of the key findings of the recent NUST survey was that respondents almost unanimously disagreed that "the club actively listens to its fans". So when the Football Supporters' Federation announced that they'd scrutinised and rated the club charters of all those in the top two divisions, I suspected that it might strengthen the case of those who feel that Jabba and his cronies have precious little regard for the ordinary paying punter. However, the results are more complex than that - while by no means rated the Premier League's best, the club was also judged to be some way off being the worst, placing 12th overall.

Between one and five points were awarded across a range of different criteria relating to the charter, which governs the club's commitment to its fans: accessibility, currency, quality, complaints procedure, league details, Independent Football Ombudsman details and bans process. For accessibility our charter merited a maximum five points, while the complaints procedure was also found to be broadly clear and effective, meriting the award of four points. Recently, the club has at least shown a willingness to engage in dialogue with fans affected by the displacement of the Level Seven "singing section". The overall quality of the charter was rated as a solid if unspectacular three.

The club fell down in the remaining four categories, scoring just one in each - though, in its defence, if the charter isn't current then it's not too surprising it doesn't include the correct details for contacting the league or the IFO. It's also fair to say that these areas were where most other clubs' charters were found wanting - and at least we've got one, unlike Everton, who apparently don't and were thus awarded a big fat nil point...

Of course, it's debatable how much this research actually proves. The acid test is not so much how good the charter is on paper but how well it works and how rigorously it's adhered to in practice. Surveying personal experiences of those who've had recourse to refer to the charter might conceivably produce a very different verdict.

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