Government report says supporters should get a bigger say in their football clubs
QPR1st Supporters’ Trust has welcomed recommendations from a Government Expert Working Group to give football supporters a bigger say in their clubs.
The report says “Supporter engagement… means dialogue between a football club and its fans, ensuring that the views of the fans – the lifeblood of any football club – are listened to, and acted upon.”
The report’s launch yesterday at AFC Wimbledon, the League 2 club formed and owned by its supporters’ trust, was attended by Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and representatives of Supporters’ Direct, the Football Supporters’ Federation, the FA, Premier League and Football League.
We welcome the report’s recommendation that regular meetings should “give supporters visibility of the strategic direction of their football clubs, and regular opportunities to discuss the issues which matter to supporters… This will include a commitment to meeting a representative group of supporters at least twice a year to discuss strategic / major issues.”
QPR1st believes the club has made progress in recent months with the creation of the fans’ consultative committee and the chief executive’s willingness to speak at a fans forum. In line with the report’s recommendation we think this should be taken further with on-going structured discussions with supporters on the club’s strategy for the future – not limited to operational issues.
We fully support the report when it says; “This structured dialogue can help facilitate a partnership approach between a club and its supporters, recognising that supporters care about the strategic direction of the club as well as operational issues and the match day experience.”
We also strongly support a recommendation that the FA should consider how best it engages with representative supporter groups within its decision-making structures.
The report noted that there was only one supporter representative on the current 123 person FA Council.
What they said about the report
At the report’s launch Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said; “Supporters are the lifeblood of the clubs they support but over time there has been a growing disconnect between them and those that run their clubs. So it was right that government set up this group and brought the football authorities and supporters together to see what more can be done for clubs to engage with fans.
“The agreement to have meaningful dialogue between clubs and supporters on issues that matter to them, which can include strategic and ownership related issues, is a big step forward.
Supporters Direct chair Brian Burgess said; “This report has the potential to mark the start of a new era of structured meaningful dialogue between clubs and Trusts, supported by changes which will lead to more opportunities for supporter ownership. Implemented correctly it can be a welcome step forward in a long-term process of reform, helping to reconnect clubs with their communities.”
Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters Federation, said; “A report, endorsed by the football authorities, that requires clubs to listen to supporters on strategic issues including finance, governance and ownership, has to be a step in the right direction.
“All too often, crucial club decisions have been taken over the heads of fans, with the real financial and strategic position of clubs shrouded in mystery.
“Fans aren’t only concerned with facilities and team performance; we also care deeply about the ownership, governance and strategic direction of the clubs we support.”
Other recommendations made by the Expert Working Group include:
– In the event of a club becoming insolvent, administrators would be required to meet with Supporters Trusts, with a credible Trust given an opportunity to bid for the club
– Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation to develop a database of suitable professional experts who are football fans who would be willing to provide pro-bono advice to supporters’ bids
– The football authorities agreed to keep the Owners and Directors Test under constant review and will take into account any feedback received from the supporter organisations through structured dialogue to ensure it achieves its intended purpose at all times.
– Any planned substantial changes to club colours or crests to be discussed with fans as part of the structured engagement.
– The FA to assess how to best engage with representative supporter groups within its decision making structures as part of its current review process