ISSA Statement - 07.09.20

On the 24th of August 2020, ISSA sent a request to the Walsall Supporters Trust, requesting a response to concerns that had been raised in February. It was stated that the Trust had fourteen days to respond or we would be going public with our concerns. I can confirm ISSA has received a response to the concerns raised from the Walsall Supporters Trust. Everyone on the committee of ISSA and the DSA found the response completely unacceptable. Every effort has been made by ISSA to get together with the Walsall Supporters Trust to try and resolve any issues, only to run into a brick wall on every occasion.


At this point we feel it is only right to follow through on what was agreed and put all the facts and information out there for all supporters of Walsall Football Club to see. Below are all the correspondence exchanged between ISSA and the Walsall Football Supporters Trust since the 24th of August 2020. Email addresses and any personal contact details have been removed for privacy reasons.


Email 1. From D. Beckett (Chairperson of ISSA) To T. Rees (Chairperson of the Walsall Supporters Trust) Hi Trevor. Hope this e mail finds you well and you are well on the road to recovery In my position of chair of Issa I write to request a meeting. Attended by. Officials of the trust. Issa and. Dsa with dsa chair copied into this request Purpose of meeting is to request a formal explanation of. The investigation the trust promised to carry out , on the back of a meeting that was held at the bell public house , many months ago. ( way before lockdown ) Where both Issa and dsa put what we considered to be very serious complaints. To the trust representative who attended. ( Bob Thomas ) Despite being promised a full internal investigation. By trust in line with there own constitutional rules, and that we would receive a full report on. The findings of said investigation One never materialised and is still outstanding many months down the line We would also like to discuss the possibility of the trust. Coming under the Issa banner , We firmly believe Issa are way the biggest. Fan group out there and could meet al, the requirements including all fca regulations in combining trust into the Issa make up This is only doing what club as always wanted to happen I'e fans speaking through one unified voice, and as said. It is commonly accepted. ( not official ) that Issa has by far the larger amount of the fanbase as actual paid up members, of which you know is a pre requisite of the club for any group who has dealings with club in order to be able to speak on behalf of fanbase In view of the situation we. All find ourselves in. And regardless of any possible takeover of trusts responsibilities by Issa . There are still deep seated issues that need resolving and. Serious concerns raised at first meeting are as yet. To be answered. To any party who was in attendance In order to move forwards and do right by those who matter most. I'e the fan base of Walsall FC I think it's imperative a meeting takes place ASAP and things are out to bed once and for all The venue of any said meeting. Can be at a venue and time of your organisations choice We will give a period of fourteen days from today's date. 24th August 2020 to receive a response to our request for a meeting Before we put out there publicly. What. The concerns and issues. Where, Which where discussed at first meeting some of which me and yourself discussed when you visited my home, With one subject in particular. Bound to be uneasy reading for many fans As said at begining I genuinely hope. You are well and. Slowly recovering Trevor and look forward to your response Regards. Dave ( Olly ) Beckett For and behalf of the independent saddlers supporters association


Email 2. T. Rees to D. Beckett. Hi Ollie I acknowledge receipt of your e mail. I will discuss with Trust Board. I should point out to you that in September I had a massive heart attack and was rushed to hospital by ambulance for immediate ermergency surgery. I was lucky to survive. I still meet with you in your home whilst recovering. In December as a result of a nose bleed that would not stop I had several nights in hospital. My health required me to shield for almost 5 months during which time I did not leave the house. I have noted your announcement on UPS which you did not bother to inform me. I will reply when I have the wishes of the Trust Board. Trevor


Email 3. D. Beckett to T. Rees Hi Trevor. Thank you for your quick response, Yes I am aware up of your problems. Regarding your health. And I do fully understand having gone through exactly same thing, and am currently awaiting. To have a defib unit fitted , to chest. But it keeps being postponed due to having to shield. And being to unsafe for me to be in a hospital setting Reference the Uts. Comments these was done after I again approached a senior trust board member And again had no courtesy of a response this was only a few weeks back, I tried to go through said board member I'e Bob Thomas. , but as said no response, the reason I went through Bob was out of respect for your situation I'e I'll health But as said. After not even showing the common decency of affording us a response. We had no alternative other than contact you direct We did make it clear Trevor at the time that if no response was forthcoming we would air grievances publicly , so I think. We have been more than fair, In our Attempts at. Trying to. Broker a meeting, If you have not been kept fully informed. It's no fault of ours, as said your health sittuation was took into account And. Seeing as Bob attended said meeting first time round he was made fully aware of our request Regards Dave Email 4. T. Rees to D. Beckett


I have consulted with the members of the Walsall Supporters Trust Board and the answer to your request for a meeting of both our boards to discuss our differences is no.


With regard to the complaints that were made to Trevor Rees at a meeting at Ollie Bennett's and also at a meeting with Bob Thomas, these were investigated by Bob and Trevor. We found the Trust had no involvement in the complaint with regard to the comments made to Ollie Bennett's wife at a Walsall match. We believe the incident was no more than normal banter between supporters. We also accepted that the lady in question was not known to be Ollie Bennett's wife, and as the Trust board member was not acting on behalf of the trust, the incident is nothing to do with the Trust. The other complaint made by Ian Buckingham about the sale of books was also investigated. Our finding was if Ian had raised it at the time the Trust would have happily given him the books. The books in question had been saved from being thrown into a skip. In fact the books were made available for collection by Ian but him he presumably decided not to bother.


Trevor


Please note you do not have permission to reproduce this statement on Social Media neither do we wish individual names to be mentioned on Social Media.

Email 5. D. Beckett to T. Rees Morning Trevor hope this e mail finds you well I'm disappointed to read the trust have refused a meeting to try to resolve issues as it was made in good faith Ref the meeting attended by Bob Thomas and your / trusts findings. This in my opinion is a complete whitewash and is not a true reflection of what took place and seeing you was not there you are again being fed. Incorrect information , We will be. Bringing. Other people's statements Including ex players to confirm that the person who was being accused was also acting as investigator into the. Complaints made against himself, and this will be proven be phone doubt, The story about the books is complete fabrication. As well , you know from your representative trying to cover up the extent of what happened As for your request / order for me not to make public. The content of your e mails to me. This will not be the case, My original e mail. Requesting a meeting, Your response, my return acknowledgement and your latest one Confirming the trusts unwillingness to meet will be revealed. On all social media sites in relation to Walsall FC, the only thing. That will be removed is yours and mine personnel e mail address , as we as an organisation are TOTALY transparent with the fans, As said if no further correspondence is received from you / trust by 5 pm Monday. All. Correspondence be made public, as is my right. I will how ether not disclose your personnel e mail address as this would be breaking. Gdpa. Act We will also release a true and accurate recollection. Of the meeting at the bell public house including. Comments made about. The trust secratery . By your own board member. Bob Thomas, This version will be a true and proper account. Which can be verified by two others present , and as said an ex player is more than willing to state again publicly. he was rang and harassed. By the person who was self investigating serious complaints against himself , to which ex player took great offence to As said Trevor saddened to see that trust are unwilling to. Find a way forward, And also that the chair of the dsa who was present at said meeting , as not been afforded the courtesy of even being copied into your corespondence . Despite himself raising concerns at said meeting but I have. Forwarded him all your e mails. Imediatley upon reciept, As this is the correct way of doing things Seeing he was copied into original e mail. Seeking a meeting . I do not accept the. Banter bit. I have banter with loads of fans. But never find it funny to refer to there good lady wives. As common prostitutes , and by your own admission that your officer said it was banter proves it was said. So case rested on that point As for the book debacle. It was nothing short of scandalous that the trust. Even tho they may not of been aware of your officers antics at the time, he was. Doing what was later brought to your organisations attention. And once it became apparant he was. Signing people up on the back of a dead child , and knowing full well he was. Undermining the fundraiser. For child's family is a sickening thing for a body such as the trust. To see as no case to answer I'd also point out trev that. For future reference my surname is Beckett, not Bennett, We can keep going back and forth for ever more trev, But as you said your answer as an organisation to a plea to find. Resolve, is a firm no We have no other option but to. Go public with what was brought to your attention , as fans have a right to know what is behind the. Dispute This e mail in its entirety. Again with. Your. E mail adress removed. Will also be made public Shame it's come to this trev, but Issa have tried. And this dill soon become apparent to those who matter , and that is the fan base of Walsall FC Kind regards. Dave Olly Beckett. For and behalf of the independent saddlers supporters association Email 6. T. Rees to D. Beckett Ollie


I suggest you alter the wording of your e mail as you have quite clearly called me personally a liar. You must do whatever you think.

Trevor.


Email 7. D. Beckett to T. Rees


Trev


No where have you been called a liar. It is stated you have not been told the truth in relation to the meeting at the Bell Pub. Please show me a statement where you have been called a liar.


Regards Dave (olly) Beckett.


Below is a statement that all those present at the meeting with the exception of Bob Thomas, have read and agreed that it is a true factual recollection of the meeting. We felt it right and proper that the fan base of Walsall Football Club in it's entirety are given an insight in to what has led to the position we are currently at. No further statements will be issued by ISSA or the DSA in relation to this matter.


On Sunday the 9th of February 2020 a meeting at the request of the board of Walsall Football Club took place at the Bell Pub, Birmingham Road. Walsall.


In attendance - Bob Thomas of the Walsall Supporters Trust, Ian Buckingham – Chairperson of the Walsall F.C Disabled Supporters Association. Dave Beckett – Chairperson of the Independent Saddlers Supporters Association. Trevor Cockayne – Fan Liaison Officer, Independent Saddlers Supporters Association. An apology was sent for Trevor Reece – Chairperson of the Walsall Supporters Trust. Bob Thomas sat in his absence.


The following points were put to Bob Thomas. ISSA asked why they had been blamed by the Trust for disclosing their membership numbers and what appeared to be inaccuracies in publicly available records published by the mutuals society. ISSA had nothing to do with this and the Trust were fully aware of this fact. The records were given to Dan Mole and Steph Gamble by the Chairperson of the DSA Ian Buckingham who made no secret of this and freely admitted it was him who had disclosed the said records. The Trust continued to blame ISSA despite knowing this was not the case The Trust then issued a public statement saying they would not attend working party meetings whilst ISSA was present. Repeated attempts were made by ISSA for the Trust to issue a retraction, one was never forthcoming until the Chairperson of the Trust attended two meetings at the home of D. Beckett (Chairperson of ISSA). Upon the Trusts Chairperson's findings the Trust agreed to return to working party meetings. No apology was made. Walsall Football Club had been requesting the information Ian Buckingham disclosed for many months, with the Trust flatly refusing to give Walsall Football Club such information. ISSA stated that they believe the reason for this is that the Trust do not have the required percentage of the fan base to take their seat as a stakeholder at working party meetings. The public records appeared to back this up.


Beckett asked if Bob could explain why a senior member of the Trust was overheard calling two ladies, one of whom is Mr Beckett's partner “Common prostitutes being pimped out to entice fans on to coaches” When he saw the ladies collecting coach fares inside Bescot Stadium.

A concern was raised regarding the Trust selling photos of Ray Graydon for £2, with fans being told they could only purchase the picture if they filled out a membership form to join the Trust. When told by fans they didn't wish to join Trust, they were told “ Just fill it in, you need never get involved and just don't renew next year” ISSA firmly believe this is a misrepresentation of actual active members and was unfair to put fans who wanted a picture of one of their heroes, on the spot in this way. Both ISSA and Walsall Football Club had received concerns from an ex-player saying how unhappy he was at the treatment he was getting from a Trust official. Stating how fans had been told not to speak to him due to his close links to ISSA. This is a player who has represented and captained the club hundreds of times. The same player also raised concerns that the same Trust Official when calling round to get things organised for ex-players day they felt they were put under pressure and expected to jump when asked. With many of the players in their late seventies, this was not the way to about things, and that ex-players should be treated with respect.

When Walsall Supporters For Change (WSFC) Were formed, the Trust voted against them taking their seat at working party meetings on three occasions. Both ISSA and the DSA lobbied for WSFC to be offered representation, saying they welcomed all groups. At a fourth time of asking, Walsall Football Club made it clear that a vote would be cast again, with a majority vote deciding the final decision. ISSA and the DSA voted for them to be welcomed to meetings, so the Trust had to accept this. ISSA Asked Bob the reason why the Trust acted the way they did, and why they were so overwhelmingly against other supporters groups taking a seat at working party meetings.


ISSA asked why despite appeals by the club for all supporter groups to work together on player of the season awards, ex-players day etc, that this never happened. A Trust official went all out to exclude all other groups.


ISSA asked why the Trust had not represented fans in the way they should have, and in fact, for many years had been complicit in the way the club had declined. The question was also asked, that when fans needed them most, their chosen form of communication was silence. Bob replied that the Trust only answers to it's members. ISSA challenged this, saying it should represent all supporters of Walsall Football Club, members or not.


ISSA asked if the Trust were more concerned with the Sierra Leone link, as all of its press releases were related to this. While more pressing issues that Walsall Football Club faced were being ignored when fans were crying out for answers.


ISSA asked why, at working party meetings when questions were put their way they never gave a straight answer. Always saying they couldn't comment until a certain board member had been consulted.


A Final statement from ISSA was put to Bob Thomas. ISSA believes that the Trust is no longer fit for purpose. It does not serve the supporters in the way it should and has ignored the very fans it was set up to serve, for many years. ISSA believes the Trust has done the fan base of Walsall Football Club a grave disservice by standing back during the gradual decline of the Football Club. Pointing out that no other group would exist if they had served the supporters in the correct manner. Now other groups have formed attempting to do what the Trust is meant to be doing, the Trust is completely against them, and refuse to work alongside those striving for a better future for our Football Club. This was the end of the questions asked by ISSA.


Ian Buckingham then put the following points to Bob Thomas on behalf of the DSA. Whilst the DSA was organising a fundraiser for a seriously ill child, they were offered a quantity of Walsall F.C related books to sell for £5 with all sales going towards the said fundraiser. The Trust also got hold of some of the same books that were found in the old programme office. The same Trust member hijacked the fundraiser saying he had the same book for £2 but in return fans had to fill in a membership form and join the trust. He stood outside the main office selling the books, and again inside the stadium, knowing full well he was detracting from the child's fundraiser, showing no remorse whatsoever. The DSA made the point that this was a misrepresentation in an attempt to get Trust membership numbers up. Sadly the child passed away the night before the fundraiser took place. The DSA handed over the money raised in his memory. The Said Trust member has never made an apology for his actions. Everyone at the meeting found it all very disturbing.


I. Buckingham reported that a certain Trust board member was overheard by a DSA official and a Walsall F.C official saying that the DSA as an organisation would fail, when in fact they have gone from strength to strength.

That concluded the meeting. Bob Thomas was amicable throughout the meeting and answered any questions he could to the best of his ability. It was clear he was shocked at some of the concerns raised. He openly stated that the board member in question alongside his partner uses the Trust as his own vehicle, and has far too much influence. Stating this was the Trust's fault for allowing this to happen and added things needed to change. He also stated he could see no other option than the person in question resigning as he was bringing the Trust into disrepute.


He promised to do a full investigation on all concerns raised and report back to us. Other than the correspondence at the top of this statement nothing else was ever forthcoming.


The above is a true recollection of what was said at the meeting. The Chairperson of the Trust requested that these communications were not reproduced. At this point, after many failed attempts to resolve serious concerns it is only right that supporters know what has lead to the position three of the four supporters groups have found themselves in. ISSA and the DSA have a good relationship with WSFC and see no reason why this can't continue. Unfortunately the same can't be said about the Walsall Football Supporters Trust. They have again refused to sit down with ISSA to try and make progress. ISSA and the DSA feel the concerns made were not taken seriously and not dealt with in a satisfactory manner. The facts have now been put out there for all to see, there will be no further statement made by the ISSA or the DSA on this matter.


As a footnote, ISSA did offer to bring the Trust under its umbrella.We felt with the number of active members we have, and a passionate hard working team of Walsall Supporters with many different skills, we could push the Trust forwards, and restore it to what it was set up to do. We will now not be pursuing this avenue. We already believe ISSA the DSA and WSFC are the three groups supporters look to,to represent their views, and it is working perfectly fine as it is.


The success that ISSA has had so far doing good for Walsall Football Club, The Supporters, local grass routes football, and people in the local community has been built with the amazing support of Walsall Fans. ISSA will no longer get involved in disputes with the Walsall Supporters Trust. All our efforts will be focused on the many upcoming projects for the people we set up to help.


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