Below is an email the Independent Saddlers Supporters Association sent to the SLO this morning.
Dear Mr Whittaker,
I am writing on behalf of the Independent Saddlers Supporters Association Committee.
Our Committee would like it to be confirmed that Trivela has seen our request for a meeting. I wrote to you in March of this year, to pass an email on to Trivela requesting a meeting when they were next available. We received a response but it wasn’t signed off by anyone. If Trivela did indeed see the email then the next question would be, why do they not want to meet with us?
The explanation we received was as follows
“Walsall FC takes communication to all supporters very seriously indeed. It will continue to communicate directly with all supporters through established channels of programme notes, videos, fans’ forums and the WFC website. This is the most efficient way of communicating and on a practical level supporters are encouraged to communicate through the Supporter Liaison Officer. These are the established communications channels and it would be inefficient to open up any other channels.”
We weren’t asking to open up any other channels of communication or answer supporter’s questions. We were asking for a meeting to introduce ourselves as a group and talk about some of our achievements and plans for the future. Including our work in the local community, something that we believed Trivela was interested in. I still have the email if you would like to see it again.
Is it possible that Trivela has a preconceived idea about ISSA? That we are a group that asks difficult questions and demands honesty and transparency. Those could be seen as a negative without context but the truth is ISSA is all about its integrity. There is a combined total of over 400 years of dedicated and loyal support on our committee. Each individual is dedicated to doing their best for the Football Club they love, the members they represent and indeed any Walsall Supporter. ISSA is not the enemy of Walsall Football Club, quite the opposite. It was always our intention to have a good relationship with the Club.
I do wonder if Trivela knows about any of our work. When they walk around the stadium they know that ISSA raised the money for the Legends skins in the Community Hub, or that ISSA put together a working task force during the pandemic to do jobs around the stadium. Or if they know about the many donations that ISSA have made to Walsall Football Club, some of which the Club appear to have no record of now?
Do they know of any of the work ISSA has done in the local community? For example the free food vans for NHS workers at local health centres and hospitals during the pandemic, or the many local kids football teams that ISSA have donated the money for football kits and equipment. Not to mention the fantastic football facilities at the Railway Club which also benefits underprivileged children in the local community. Those are just a few examples, there are many more. Considering Trivela claims to have an interest in the local community, it is hard to understand why they have no interest in any of the above.
As I said earlier the meeting we requested in March of this year was not to put supporter’s questions forward. However, I can tell you we have many supporters contacting us with questions. Often stating that they haven’t received a response when going through the club’s communication channels or if they did get a response it didn’t answer their question. ISSA is the largest supporters group associated with Walsall Football Club. This didn’t happen by accident. It is because of the work we have done and the trust we have built with supporters. It is only natural some supporters will turn to us with their concerns.
We hear some heartbreaking stories about lifelong fans who have followed Walsall home and away for decades and are considering giving up on it. Or supporters telling us they can’t get their children to come to games any more. I can personally relate to this, I have two boys 11 and 13 years old. It is extremely difficult in this day and age to keep them interested when you can follow any top club on the television. All of their friends support Wolves or Villa, Manchester City or Liverpool, It is a constant battle and being completely honest, all they have ever seen in their time following Walsall is rubbish. We fight on to keep our children as Walsall supporters to continue in the footsteps of all the generations that went before us, after all, they are the future of our Club.
Here we are again with relegation from the Football League tapping us on the shoulder, it will be even harder to keep the kids coming back if we were to drop out of the Football League. There was a lot of goodwill for Trivela, but now more and more fans are contacting us regarding the silence during these worrying times and feeling more and more distanced from our owners. There are so many questions that supporters want answering but feel so disconnected from the Club and the owners, that they don’t know where else to turn. It may be that it is too late for words, action now needs to be taken. Considering the decline of our Football Club for many years now, our support is amazing and deserves better than this.
I have sent you this email, Mr Whittaker, as this is the preferred communication channel the Club wish us to use. We urge you to share it with Trivela.