Trust chair Keith Morgan reports on a meeting with Cardiff City’s Chief Executive Ken Choo in the wake of the first anniversary of the publication Fans-Led Review published by former Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, MP.
November 2022 represented one year on from the publication of the original report, a copy of which was sent to the club at the time. The anniversary was marked by a meeting in the House of Lords last month which was attended by Tracey Crouch MP who chaired the committee which created the final version of the report, a number of Peers and MPs, senior members of the FSA (Football Supporters Association), representatives of the EFL and Premier League and a small number of representatives of football club Supporters Trusts. I was fortunate to be invited as one of those Trusts and afterwards was also able to have conversations with a number of South Wales MPs who are all in support of the paper. At the time I prepared a report on the meeting which was sent to our CCST members.
What is important to note is that there is strong cross-party support for getting the report enshrined into law up to and including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition level and pledges from the current Sports Minister and the Chair of the Parliamentary DCMS (Digital Culture Media Sport) Committee to get a White Paper before Parliament “imminently” – within weeks rather than months. There has been a pledge from the same people that the report contents will not be “watered down” and that the only required amendments will be those involving wording necessary to get the legislation in place.
Throughout 2022 I have copied in updates on the position to the club asking for their views on its contents but the response has always been that the club did not consider it an appropriate time to discuss the matter. Earlier this month I received a call from Ken Choo agreeing to a meeting to discuss the topic and that meeting took place on Friday, December 16th.
The meeting was attended by club CEO Ken Choo and club Finance Director Phillip Jenkins and the key contents of the FLR report and current position were discussed in some detail. As a reminder, the key recommendations in the report are as follows:
1. The appointment of an Independent Regulator to oversee the Corporate Governance of the current football authorities such as the FA, Premier League and EFL. This is due to the deemed failure of those authorities to regulate themselves properly, leading to problems at Chelsea, Bury, Birmingham and Bolton amongst others.
2. A new improved owners and directors test. The current one is fairly weak and the new one is designed to ensure that not only are they fit in the general sense but can demonstrate that they actually apply their disclosed skills to a specific role at the club.
3. A new approach to corporate governance at clubs to try and ensure that they do not spend beyond their means and get into financial trouble.
4. A requirement of a published statement at each club as to how they deal with diversity and equality issues, to be overseen by the new Independent Regulator. This will include a policy on things like LGBT issues.
5. The creation of a fans` shadow board of directors at each club with whom the club`s directors will be obliged to consult on a regular and frequent basis. The club will have no opportunity to appoint members of that board which will be made up of fans elected by the fans themselves, The representatives will have to confirm and be seen that they have no conflict to their independence such as a material financial, family or contractual interest in the club.
6. A requirement that the club shows that it is at all times protecting the club`s heritage for its fans. i.e it will not be able to change a club`s location, name, colours or badge without the specific proven consent of a large majority of its fans. As a fan, it is embarrassing that our club is specifically mentioned in the report as a bad example in this regard and a reason to change the rules.
7. A fairer distribution of income from t.v. rights etc. between the Premier League and the EFL. This is an ongoing discussion between those two bodies.
8. Equal treatment for women`s football regarding the above topics.
9. Better protection of players` welfare in areas such as their recovery from long-term injury, mental health etc.
The key areas above were discussed with Ken and Phil in a constructive and sensible manner with comments from both sides of the discussion. The club wishes to have formal discussions only after the White Paper is issued, but has pledged to then sit down with the Trust in an effort to work with the club to implement the future legal requirements and overcome any objections which might be raised by the club owner. As and when such a meeting takes place and as and when the White Paper is issued I will keep Trust members updated.