ENGAGE! – How Clubs Can Win With Football Supporters (Supporters Direct)

New Publication from Supporters Direct

Supporters Direct have recently published a guidance document titled “ENGAGE! – How Clubs Can Win With Football Supporters”. Over the last few weeks we have emailed members with a series of extracts from the Supporters Direct document.

This week in the fifth in the series, we look at some of the key principles in club led supporters engagement.

Supporters Direct have identified the following useful principles:


 Regardless of the name there are a few key principles that should be central to any model of engagement:

 1) Representation. Supporters involved must be representative of the wider supporter grouping and hence accountable to those supporters (within the constraints of Company Law and commercial confidentiality). Representation could be achieved through: direct democratic processes; nomination by a defined group of supporters (for example, season ticket holders, Supporters’ Trust or Supporters’ Association members); or by position (for example, the Chairperson of a Supporters’ Trust or Supporters’ Association).

 2) Accountability. Members of the group should effectively report back to the relevant parties. This often takes the form of a written report.

 3) Transparency. The process through which supporters are involved in club governance must be transparent.

 4) Skill Sets /Competencies. It is essential there is alignment between the requirements of the representative position and the skill set and competencies of individual supporters.


 With club led initiatives such as Fans Forums and SABs, what should be noted is the means through which the club puts applications to join such forums are applied. For instance, many club/fan engagement vehicles will state that all applications are subject to consideration by the club and should be foreseen as accepted until informed of by the club. This is important to note as if the club are reluctant to adopt a completely open process or reject applications from the more vocal supporters, there may dilution of important topics such as sustainability of the club.

 Similarly, constituted supporter groups organised by supporters should operate on democratic principles and on a one member one vote basis, including in the nomination and election of members to a Board.

 What does good look like?  

  • A clear, open and transparent application process.
  • Feedback being used in a meaningful manner i.e. action is actually taken and isn’t a talking shop.
  • Be honest! Tell people how results of forums and consultations will be used and manage expectations.
  • Ensure the club keeps records of board decisions.
  • Engage, consult and involve the membership; their support is a competitive advantage.

 What does bad look like?  

  • If there are topics which the group doesn’t want to talk about (ownership).
  • Only speaking to yes men and people who say what you want to hear.
  • Decisions taken with little to no consultation (Hull City name/badge change).
  • Being told and not generating discussion.”

The full Supporters Direct document, “ENGAGE!  How Clubs Can Win With Football Supporters” is available on our website and can be viewed here. 

We hope that you found the above to be of interest and gives an insight into what forms the basis of supporter involvement in football clubs. We will feature further extracts from the guidance over future weeks and look forward to receiving any comments you may wish to make on enquiries@bwfcst.co.uk


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