Dan Rose, head of England and Wales Supporters’ Direct, spoke to members of the National Assembly about community ownership of sports clubs during a visit to Cardiff.
He was the main speaker at an All-Party Committee on Co-operative and Mutuals hosted by Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw. Chair Tim Hartley and board member Phillip Nifield represented Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust.
Dan stressed the importance of football clubs which, he described, as the heartbeat of the community. He argued Wales was ripe for community ownership of sports clubs and also revealed plans to set up a Supporters Direct Cymru.
Dan also highlighted the position in Germany where many football clubs in the Bundesliga are 50% + 1 owned by fans who had a large say in issues like ticket prices.
Supporters Direct development manager, Kevin Rye, gave examples of community ownership of clubs in England while Meurig Price spoke about how the Merthyr Town Supporters’ Trust had turned around the club with support from Supporters Direct and the local council. He explained the 3D pitch fitted last year was now used seven days a week by the community.
Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews, who is a founding member of the Trust, pledged to press the case with the Welsh Government to adopt the Localism Act which would allow sports grounds to be designated as assets of community value. It has already been adopted in England with Old Trafford and Anfield among the famous grounds already designated.
He stressed the importance of supporters’ trusts and their activities and praised the way the Cardiff Trust had acted over the behind-the-scenes problems at Cardiff Citydurintg the past few weeks.