Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust calls on supporters to back the recommendations of the Fan Led Review.
The final report from the Fan Led Review of football (FLR) was published last night 24th November. The overall aim of the review is to improve the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in English football, building on the strengths of the football pyramid.
CAST broadly welcomes the recommendations contained in the report and regards it as an excellent first stage. It is not yet legislation and, no doubt, there will be plenty of lobbying from vested interests that could halt, derail or water down the legislation. So it is vital that all fans make their voices heard in favour of the recommendations.
We will be contacting local MPs Matthew Pennycook and Clive Efford to urge their support and ask fans to do the same.
Summary of The Report
The report is extensive and pulls no punches when it comes to the need for significant change. The key recommendations are:
- The Government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF) established by an Act of Parliament based upon specialist business regulation adapted to the football industry. IREF should operate a licensing system for professional men’s football.
- To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, IREF should oversee financial regulation in football which should be based upon prudential regulation in other industries recognising that football is obviously sport but also now big business.
- New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by IREF replacing the three existing tests to ensure that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vitally important community and cultural assets.
- There should be a new corporate governance code to support a long-term sustainable future of the game. This should be mandatory for all professional clubs with common requirements tailored to different leagues.
- Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plans should be mandatory for all clubs with EDI Action Plans regularly assessed by IREF.
- As every club’s most important stakeholder, supporters should be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions by means of a Shadow Board. Effective supporter engagement should be a licence condition and overseen by IREF.
- There should be additional protection for key items of club heritage through a “Golden Share” requiring supporter consent and overseen by IREF.
- There is a strong case for additional contributions from The Premier League to further support the future of the football pyramid including a new solidarity transfer levy paid by top-flight on buying players from overseas or from other Premier League clubs.
- Women’s football should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review to guarantee its future recognising the significant steps forward taken in recent years but also the unique challenges facing the game.
- The welfare of players exiting the game needs to be better protected – particularly at a young age – and all stakeholders should work together on improving this including the provision of proactive mental health care and support.
CAST involvement in the review
Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust gave evidence to the FLR committee led by Tracey Crouch in June 2021. We are cited in the Review at 1.41 concerning our evidence of the lack of accountability in leadership at the football authorities: “As an example…failures of the EFL to intervene during a turbulent period for Charlton Athletic, despite supporter pleas, leading to legal action.”
In front of the committee, we told our story and we were clear about what we thought should be in the report.
- That we needed new legislation to empower an independent regulator with teeth answerable and accountable to fans to oversee football governance. This legislation needs to address football’s conflicts with company law. This legislation needs to identify and exclude the rogues so that such individuals are prevented from owning clubs in the first place; and any later breaches of regulations result in the individual being sanctioned rather than clubs ruined.
- We wished the review to establish and strengthen processes of fan engagement with the regulator, giving funding and formal recognition to fans as stakeholders, to the FSA and to democratically-constituted fan groups, especially Supporters’ Trusts. This should extend to fan representation on the boards of competition organisers.
- We asked for much stronger protection of tangible assets: We cited that we had done all we could to protect The Valley but it would not be enough. CAST has obtained Asset of Community Value status for The Valley but that protection is limited and weak. It does not dispel the dark shadow of Duchatelet’s £50M valuation.
- We asked for protection of the intangible assets – the club’s name, colours, badge, songs: put the soul of the football club into the hands of fans and the community.
- We wanted all clubs in the pyramid to be put on an equal regulatory footing to protect their future. But, we said, this must not go so far that it limits their ambitions: the dream of football fans ‘to do a Leicester’ is the essence of the pyramid, football without hope is nothing.
We are delighted to see that our sentiments are contained in the report particularly around the regulator and the protection of the emotional assets of clubs.
The key questions for Charlton fans
- Would the recommended legislation have done anything to prevent the so-called ‘shenanigans’?
At a very high level, it looks like it could have done - in particular if the licensing system is strict as the Review recommends. In that case it could prevent football clubs being casually bought and sold like any other business unless the relevant licensing provisions are complied with. The proposed changes and strengthening of tests for owners and directors should also prevent shady characters from taking control of clubs.
- Does the Review contain anything that helps as regards The Valley & the club being in separate ownership?
We are especially pleased to see a couple of clauses in this respect. We hope these will help with any negotiations with Roland Duchatelet:
‘The government should amend the National Planning Framework to impose requirements on developers of an existing football stadium to provide new equivalent or better facilities in the same local area before any development is started.’
‘The government should explore the viability of of introducing new security of tenure property rights for clubs where the club does not own the ground.’
We know that Charlton owner, Thomas Sandgaard, was broadly welcoming of the FLR taking place and we look forward to engaging with him on it. We see a real opportunity to work together to achieve success for CAFC. If we are to ‘do a Leicester’ we need our club to be well run, to thrive commercially and for fans and owner to be in harmony, focussed on the same upward direction.
The full report can be accessed here:
If you would like to join nearly 3000 Charlton fans as a member of CAST you can do so here: