A Reminder of the U.K. Government Position on ‘Supporter Voice’
Following the publication earlier in the year of the final report of the Government Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement, supporters of professional clubs across the country will have more opportunities to bid to own their football clubs when suitable opportunities arise, and will also meet with their clubs at least twice a year to discuss issues important to them, the U.K. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announced.
The Premier League, The Football League, National League and FA boards have endorsed the report alongside Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation. Additionally, the revised Insolvency Policy announced by The Football League in June 2015 has helped the Expert Working Group to achieve a number of its objectives on removing barriers to supporter ownership.
The Expert Working group, set up by the Government in October 2014, has recommended that:
- In the event of a club becoming insolvent, administrators would be required to meet with Supporters Trusts, with a credible Trust given an opportunity to bid for the club. In such a situation, the Premier League’s Fans Fund Panel would consider bids for assistance from Supporters Trusts of clubs in the National League, Football League and Premier League to help with professional fees to build a credible bid.
- The Premier League has also agreed to provide an extra £1 million in funding over the next three years, via the Fans Fund, to recognise football supporter organisations that provide a voice for supporters on ownership and related issues. Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation are to develop a database of suitable professional experts who are football fans who would be willing to provide pro-bono advice to supporters’ bids.
- The football authorities agreed to keep the Owners and Directors Test under constant review and will take into account any feedback received from the supporter organisations through structured dialogue to ensure it achieves its intended purpose at all times.
- Government should look at Social Investment Tax Relief with regards to Supporters Trusts and if this would provide a tax-efficient way for them to accrue funds to prepare for a future bid.
- Government and the football authorities should consider if a Community Owned Sports Club model, similar to the Community Amateur Sport Club (CASC) scheme, should be accepted as a legitimate operating model giving supporter owned clubs tax breaks.
- Any planned substantial changes to club colours or crests to be discussed with fans as part of the structured engagement. The FA to assess how to best engage with representative supporter groups within its decision making structures as part of its current review process.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said:
“Supporters are the lifeblood of the clubs they support but over time there has been a growing disconnect between them and those that run their clubs. So it was right that government set up this group and brought the football authorities and supporters together to see what more can be done for clubs to engage with fans.
See the full press release at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-opportunities-for-supporter-ownership-involvement-and-engagement-in-football