QPR1st was represented at a recent national Supporters Direct event where key issues for supporters were discussed – and good practice by Premier League clubs involving supporters in decision-making was looked at.
Importantly the Premier League was itself represented. A representative took part in the discussion – and appears to be committed to encouraging clubs to work more effectively with supporters.
Time was given to Swansea Supporters’ Trust to describe the groundbreaking involvement of supporters at their club – and to describe how the club has successfully rebuilt itself to be successful on and off the pitch. The Swansea representative could not help comparing aspects of this to the recent QPR story.
In a nutshell, the Swansea Supporters’ Trust is a shareholding organisation that influences the running of the club through a supporter director on the board and some legally-binding rights to veto decisions on some issues.
In 2002 a legal agreement between the club and trust gave the trust a veto on large borrowings and agreement that the trust would get first option on new shares.
The Swansea Trust believes the reasons for the success of the club were:
- Clear vision communicated by the chair and board – a consistent way of doing things; so that, for example, there would be continuity and new managers could build on existing foundations without changes of direction
- Involvement of supporters
- Working with the local community and stakeholders, such as the council
- Careful with off-field expenditure
- Recruitment of people who fit the ethos of the club – Ashley Williams learnt Spanish to help new players settle in
- Patience – only calculated risks taken
The club made a profit of £14 million last year – and rather than pay high wages it it has bonus payments for players. Players get a bonus geared to how high the club finishes in the league.
The Swansea representative politely commented that that the approach taken by the club, and its league position contrasted with the less patient and prudent approach taken by QPR.
The Swansea Supporters Trust had won its influence with the club through years of hard work to build trust while at the same time working to keep fans connected and involved; and ruffling feathers when necessary.
The Swansea experience gave food for thought. It was recognised that there is not a one-size fits all model for clubs to engage with supporter, but it offered an approach which many can learn from; including QPR.
The meeting also looked at
- The role of supporter liaison officers with some examples of exceptional work by some – in supporting Spurs supporters in Lyon after the fascist attack on a bar there a few months ago for example
- Away ticket prices
QPR1st activity on these issues, locally, or linked to Supporters Direct nationally are reported elsewhere in this site.