Nigel Martyn has spoken of his plan to bring Leeds United’s fans together under one banner after accepting the role of honorary president of the Leeds United Supporters Trust.
The former Leeds goalkeeper said he was joining the Trust with the intention of establishing a clear and coherent voice among United’s rank and file with a view to securing regular dialogue with the Elland Road club.
LUST unveiled Martyn as its new president last month, installing a recognisable and respected figurehead, and Martyn revealed that his “strong rapport” with the Leeds support had convinced him to give the Trust his backing.
The 45-year-old, who made more than 200 appearances for Leeds between 1996 and 2003, hopes his involvement will help give United’s fanbase greater influence over the club’s operations and ensure the opinions of the public are consistently heard by the board at Elland Road.
Martyn said: “I’m not naive and I know that there are always complaints to be made, no matter what. Even if everything at a club is running perfectly, you’d still find someone moaning about the heat of the pies or the cubes in the urinals.
“But when it comes to the bigger issues, it’s essential to make sure that the fans are heard and the club listen to their views and grievances.
“Whether the club act on those views is down to them, and they can’t please all of the fans all of the time, but open dialogue is good and healthy for everyone. There doesn’t seem to be enough of that at the moment.
“If the supporters can unite behind one vehicle then it would create an organisation with enough representation and a big enough membership for the club to respect and potentially work with.
“That’s why I’ve got involved with the Trust – to give them a figurehead who, without blowing my own trumpet, has a strong rapport with the fans. I hope I can make a difference and help bring the supporters together.”
LUST’s move to harness Martyn’s support is the latest step in a drive by the organisation to enhance its profile and expand its membership.
The Trust had in the region of 250 members when the group’s board underwent sweeping changes towards the end of 2009, and that figure had climbed to around 1,250 by the time of Martyn’s appointment as president.
The former England international was seen as a unanimously popular ex-player, in the mould of former Leeds captain Lucas Radebe.
Trust chairman Gary Cooper said: “He was an obvious candidate – a down-to-earth man who’s respected by everyone connected with the club.
“Nigel’s not someone who divides opinion, and though Leeds United have seen many great players over the years, he had the integrity and reputation we were looking for.”
Martyn said he was realistic about the challenge of creating a unified fans’ group which could speak with authority and insisted the strategy of LUST should be a “democratic process” which focused on the issues of most concern to Leeds’ supporters.
But he stressed the need for independent representation, saying: “When I played for the club, I was only ever borrowing the shirt on a temporary basis.
“The same goes for every player, and for managers, coaches, boards and owners – they’re custodians of the club for a limited period of time.
“The supporters are the people who are there at the age of five or six and still attending games in their 70s and 80s. It’s important to take their views on board, just as I tried to when I was playing and heard complaints from the crowd.
“I wouldn’t expect the club to tell people what they want to hear, or act on suggestions that aren’t realistic or feasible. That’s not how it works. But at least if discussions were taking place, even every now and again, you’d feel like the fans were a big and active part of the whole process.
“But what you need is a big, strong, independent voice, rather than lots of little voices.
“How easy that’ll be to achieve I can’t say, because everyone has different ideas, grievances and agendas.
“I’m going into this with my eyes open but it’s something to aim for.”