Manifesto to reform football in unveiled by Supporters Direct

Supporters Direct (SD) has provided a football manifesto for the forthcoming UK General Election.

SD is the umbrella group for supporters’ trusts in Wales, England and Scotland and has an increasingly influential and powerful influence in continental Europe.

What they say

Since 2000 we have campaigned for the introduction of reforms that ensure that supporters have a formal role in the ownership and governance of their football clubs.

We believe that:

  • Clubs are not simply businesses.
  • Fans are not simply consumers of a product.
  • Supporters are an intrinsic part of a club.
  • Consulting them in a democratic and structured way leads to better decision making which benefits both the club and community.
  • An ideal structure for a club would see overall control being held by supporters and the wider community. We recognise that that is not always possible to achieve, and that other ownership structures can work well if they include supporters in a structured and democratic way at both governing and operational level.

We believe that governments and sports governing bodies have a crucial role to play in enshrining these principles in regulation and legislation. Political parties have, to a greater or lesser extent, accepted many of them already and involving supporters has been widely accepted as a positive development from people within the game: now is the time for accepted principles to turn into action.

In 2011 and 2013 the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published a series of recommendations which, although largely accepted by the football authorities, have never been implemented. We believe this is unacceptable, and therefore we call upon all political parties to:

  • Address the issue of reform of the FA to alter the balance of power in the game, and ensure that it can take the lead, as an independent regulator, in decision making for issues of major significance for football.
  • Implement an effective licensing system for football clubs which enshrines the rights of supporters.
    Support the work of the Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement, which will produce an interim report in March 2015.
  • Implement the SD proposal for Community Owned Sports Clubs (COSCs).
  • Implement a tighter and more effective Owners and Directors Test and empower the FA to police it adequately.
  • Ensure that football makes public the name(s) of the ultimate individuals who own and control our clubs.
  • Ensure that every professional football club has in place a formal structured plan for meaningful engagement and consultation with supporters groups.
  • Give supporters the opportunity to bid to take control of their club if there is a change of ownership.
  • Remove barriers to supporter ownership and facilitate the introduction of independent and/or supporter directors on club boards.
  • Develop a Code of Governance for football clubs at least as robust as that operating in the wider business community.