Trust Chair Reports From The Football Supporters’ Association AGM

Keith Morgan, Trust Chair

Keith Morgan, the Trust’s chair attended the annual general meeting of the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) in Manchester.

He reports to members on the key issues raised:

I attended the above meeting and connected conference held at the Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th June to represent the Trust and mix with like-minded supporters from other trusts and supporters groups. The conference was run in parallel with the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) which the FSA was hosting and which ran from 22nd to 25th June.

Many things were covered over the weekend, but during the time I attended the main areas of importance were as follows

1.    The President of UEFA flew in specifically to address the meeting and make a profound apology for the way visiting fans were treated at the Champions League Final last year in Paris and also for problems that arose this year in Istanbul. He fully acknowledged that the initial blame for safety and other issues levied on fans in Paris was proved to be totally wrong by a subsequent independent investigation and that UEFA should and had learned from their mistakes, He suggested that fans would have far greater input in future in organisational issues so that mistakes would not be repeated.

2.    Sessions were held giving an update on progress on the government White Paper on football governance through Parliament. As you are aware our Trust has had significant input into the discussions creating the original Fans Led Review which gave rise to this White Paper. It was revealed that the FSA believed that the current consultation period by politicians would conclude within a matter of a few weeks which would then enable a finalised paper to be approved, placed before Parliament again then included in the next King`s Speech to enable it to become formal legislation. It already has the support of politicians of all parties.

3.    Following the discussions in 2. Above, the conference was addressed by Sports Minister Stuart Andrew. Although he could not give a specific date for finalisation of the matter, he did confirm that it was being progressed as quickly as practicable and the timing was likely to be “a few weeks” and before the Parliament Summer recess which would enable him to move it forward to a King`s Speech inclusion in the Autumn. He gave his personal pledge to treat this as a priority.

4.    Two significant issues arising from the Fan Led Review of Football that are incorporated in the White Paper are:-

a)    the appointment of an Independent Regulator of English Football (IREF) who will have the power to veto FA, EPL and EFL decisions in order to ensure football clubs are run properly from a financial and corporate governance point of view and who will fully and properly take into account the views of their fanbase in major decisions

b)   the compulsion for clubs to properly consult with their fans on a formal and regular basis – likely to be via Fans Advisory Boards (FAB) elected by the fans themselves and not the club which some clubs already have in place.

In respect of the issue of Fans Advisory Boards (FAB), I had discussions with several club representatives who have FABs in place and, although there is a variety of structures they have adopted, the common theme appears to be that, from the Fans point of view,  they are very much led by their Trusts with other memberships drawn from official supporters groups plus some members elected by votes of season ticket holders. The Club has already raised at the last Supporters Liaison Group the issue of putting a FAB in place at Cardiff City. Discussion on that matter at the time was very general. The Club did mention the Premier League model at that meeting but that is regarded as being far from best practice by the FSA. Over the coming weeks, I intend to discuss with my colleagues on the Trust board how we will be progressing this taking into account the experiences of other Trusts as well as recommendations from the FSA.

All Supporters Trusts regard the implementation of the Fan Led Review of Football to be of critical importance and the creation of meaningful FABs can be a major step forward in fan representation. Having an arena to discuss and question issues of Corporate Governance and Strategic matters will be a culture shock to many clubs but I would like to think that Cardiff City will embrace this new world in the spirit as well as the word of the forthcoming legislation.

In my discussion with other Supporters Trusts at the AGM, it was evident that whilst the membership of an FAB was crucial from the point of view of those representing fans it was also critical that Clubs put forward representatives on a FAB that were empowered to speak on strategic matters.

Keith Morgan