Eltham MP and Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford called a meeting of Supporters Trusts with himself at Parliament earlier this month to discuss ideas for change in the Game.
On 2nd July CAS Trust Chairman Barnie Razzell and Richard Wiseman Trust Secreteary represented Charlton fans at a meeting at The House of Commons to discuss The Labour Party’s approach to football and the involvement of supporters in the governance of the game.
The meeting, chaired by Efford was attended by The Supporters Trusts of Leeds, Tottenham, Chelsea, Fulham, Villa, Palace and Leyton Orient among others and also by representatives of Supporters Direct (SD) and The Football Supporters Federation FSF), and was held in the high level security of the our national Parliament in the old Shadow Cabinet room.
The Eltham MP who attended Charlton's ACV celebration opened the meeting by reiterating that the Labour Party had previously made generalised and aspirational policy statements calling for greater supporter influence but that he now wished to consult on more specific measures.
Among the topics discussed were:
- Defining the FA as a public body which would mean it would have to be open to freedom of information requests.
- Clubs becoming subject to a licensing system from the FA which would enable the FA to insist on certain conditions re fan involvement being met.
- The role of the Football Ombudsman
- Strengthening the “Fit and Proper Person” test
- The role of Supporter Liaison Officers
- The heritage of a club (eg badge, colours, nickname, location) becoming separated from the business itself and being protected.
- Supporters Trusts becoming more empowered
Trusts present at the meeting shared their good and bad experiences of their relationship with their clubs, and submitted various ideas, comments and arguments.
It was stressed that piecemeal changes without a fundamental culture shift could be dangerous. For example, the right to have a fan on the board of every club might look attractive but, without underpinning, might turn out to be mere window dressing. Although others thought that symbolic but smaller changes might be more achievable and in time lead to change over a longer period by giving more recognition to fans via the Trust movement.
Clive Efford will be working with others to produce a detailed policy statement over the next few months, and CAS Trust look forward to giving input in the future as well as seeing the results of the consultation should they ever reach the statute books.