Supporters’ Direct 2011 Annual Conference

Sharing experience with Supporters Direct

Supporters' Direct 2011

Tim Hartley, Chair of CCST with Mark Evans (Merthyr Tydfil Trust)

The Trust attended this year’s Supporters Direct conference in Chester. SD is the umbrella organisation for all sports trusts in Britain and the conference allows us to swap ideas with other football trusts and to discuss the way ahead for the movement. The breaking news from the conference was that the Premier League funding on which SD depends has been reinstated after a threat to withdraw it.

Much of the discussion centred on how we can ensure community ownership of clubs. Now while that might not be possible for us at Cardiff it is great to see lower and non-league clubs taking up the challenge and actually getting their hands on the club itself.  I can’t wait for the FA Cup draw to throw up MK Dons versus AFC Wimbledon! What we have seen at Merthyr, Swansea and hopefully at Wrexham shows that fans can take control of clubs and that is surely a good thing.

During last year’s election campaign all major parties made manifesto commitments to reform football. The coalition government’s programme also talks about co-operative ownership of clubs and we await the parliamentary report following the MPs inquiry into football governance to which we as Trust gave evidence.  Football is not like any other business and clubs deserve special status as vital parts of the community. We must modernise the way they are owned, have transparency of ownership, establish a proper licensing system and have independent scrutiny of how clubs are financed. Did you know that 52 of the 92 league clubs have suffered insolvency since 1992? Something must be done!

Cardiff City was singled out at the conference for particular praise by Mark Bradley who runs the Fan Experience Company. He told delegates that the efforts the club has made to ensure going down the City is a good family experience, treating visiting fans with respect and the more relaxed attitude to standing in certain sections of the Stadium, have all been recognisedby the footballing authorities. Equally important is that those steps should act a catalyst for further fan friendly changes and help shake off the bad image that we as a club have suffered from.

It was good to meet fans from all over the country and reassuring that they have similar problems and issues to us. Chester FC and Stockport County spoke of the need for supporters groups to come together every so often and I am glad that we at Cardiff have such a good relationship with the Supporters Club. There was much talk of the new demand on clubs to appoint a designated Supporters Liaison Officer and we wait to see how this one works with our club. If you want to discuss any of these issues further we can go through them at the next Trust open meeting.

Here’s looking forward to a brilliant new season.  Let’s get behind Malky and the boys!


Tim Hartley