New supporters organisation is created

CAST's "governing body" -  Supporters Direct - has now merged with The Football Supporters' Federation to form a new organisation - The Football Supporters' Association.

Steve Clarke represented CAST at the first AGM of the new organisation. Here is his report:

Fan Pressure Hots Up

What better way to spend the hottest day of the year than at the newly-formed Football Supporters’ Association first AGM?  Well, when it’s held in a finely air-conditioned West End hotel, maybe things weren’t all bad after all …

The meeting discussed a number of fan related topics.  Two stand out as being of most note:

1.     The need to press the FA, EFL and other competition organisers for an independent regulator.

2.    Concerns around the reported proposals by UEFA and the European Club Association to restructure European club competitions from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

1. There was a healthy debate around appointing an independent regulator.  Everyone recognises that, however this is to be taken forward, it represents a serious challenge.  Many in the audience took the view this should be a direct government position separate from all other football administration and Chris Matheson MP spoke enthusiastically about his desire to make this happen.

However, FSA Chair Malcolm Clarke turned the focus on to the FA (he has sat on the FA Council for several years).  He argued strongly, despite a perception that they can be out-dated and insular, that there is sufficient recognition within their structure of the need to control rogue owners.  The final motion was amended so that the proposal is for a regulator operating independently whilst under the oversight of the FA.

2. FSA Chief Executive Kevin Miles spoke passionately about the new proposals for the restructure of European competition from season 2024/25 which would result in more “European games”.

He began by reminding the audience of the earth-shattering football event of 29th January this year.  He told how the media had reacted with horror the following day.  All that we know about our game suddenly turned upside down.  Life will never be the same again.

Now, just in case you need reminding of this momentous event … we did too …  Newcastle United beat Manchester City 2-1.  In the Premier League they both play in.  The BBC’s report included the sensational sentence, “Many will be looking at this scoreline in disbelief.”

Kevin used this to highlight how the Premier League money has distorted the game and even produced gaps within its own number.  He stressed that such media coverage, whilst ludicrously sensationalist, can go largely unnoticed.

His message was clear.  If we think this is shocking, this is nothing compared to what will happen if the UEFA proposals go through.  Some of what’s expected:

-       Clubs chosen on their history and perceived status, ignoring performance – so what Leicester City won more points than everyone else?

-       Closed leagues – no relegation and promotion.

-       An end to the top to bottom pyramid.

-       European football at weekends – do they covet Saturday at 3pm with full TV coverage?

-       Even greater concentration of wealth amongst the few.

Kevin firmly believes the agreement to these changes will be hurried through the governing bodies within a year.

Some take an opposite view, saying let them get on with it.  Go and play your dull meaningless games.  Harlem Globetrotters for the Beautiful Game.  But again, Kevin states this is short-sighted – look again at how the Premier League has unbalanced things – and the damage to the game we know will be irreparable.

You have been warned.