The Red and White Army Supporters Group (RAWA) have launched the first ever Sunderland Supporters’ Trust. Fans are being encouraged to join up by taking an annual subscription of a minimum of £5 which will allow them to vote at meetings and stand for election to the Trust’s Board.
RAWA was formed in 2017 and since then they’ve attracted 11,000 members, providing a fresh impetus to the concept of supporter influence and representation at Sunderland. Members voted overwhelmingly to convert to a Trust last year which meant the organisation had to register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Whilst the core aims of RAWA will not change – to represent supporters in dialogue with SAFC, becoming a Trust means that they will now comply with the FCA which means the formulation of a legally binding constitution and the submission of annual accounts. A Supporters’ Trust is known legally as a Community Benefit Society, providing a vehicle to raise funds for the benefit of our members and the community as a whole, and even to own shares in SAFC should the opportunity arise and fans feel it appropriate to do so.
Existing members of RAWA who joined before the Trust launched will be encouraged to convert to full Trust membership, however those who decide not to will not be left behind. RAWA have vowed to canvass the opinions of all fans and those who remain free members will continue to receive newsletters.
RAWA Chair Andrew Hird said, “This is an exciting time for Sunderland fans with the potential and positivity engendered by the new ownership. It’s a great time for us to launch the Trust and it’s not before time. Whilst RAWA is a relatively new group we have always been very aware that Sunderland represents one of the largest fanbases in the UK not to have a fully-fledged Supporters’ Trust, so we’re proud to finally make that happen. It won’t drastically change what we do day-to-day but it takes us to another level and members can really feel they’re part of something big. Something that will hopefully thrive and grow and be passed on to future generations of supporters”.
The move to a Trust will also see RAWA re-launch their website with a new logo and audio-visual content that helps to explain what the Trust is all about, how it’s structured and how members can help shape the way forward. Fans who want to find out a bit more before joining can do so here.
The elected RAWA board will continue to use the co-opted representatives who cover a range of supporter demographics and fanzines so the groups always have as rounded a view possible. The launch of the Trust will also see them add a Community Project Rep which will be taken up by Peter Richardson, the supporter who came up with the idea to sell virtual tickets for the Papa John’s Trophy Final. Peter will help with any future charitable work that RAWA undertakes.
Andrew Hird had this final message for fans. “The RAWA Supporters’ Trust is open for all Sunderland fans and it is up to them to shape and grow this into something to be proud of. Supporters are the constant, beating heart of the Club. The Trust represents a great opportunity to be a positive influence on the direction of SAFC and strengthen the supporters’ voice. Join up and be part of it”.