[quote_center]”Football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. Our plan is to give fans a stake in their clubs.”[/quote_center]
After consultations with 95 supporter organisations including MOMS, the Labour party have put together proposals to give supporters of all clubs a say at board level. The increasing groundswell of public opinion that fans are being marginalised in the game and subject to unfair pricing has now reached politicians across all parties.
The initial plan, after supporter consultation would require supporters to come together to form a single accredited trust in return for the right to:
- appoint and remove up to a quarter and not less than two of a football club’s board of directors;
- purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership, if they so wish.
Labour says it would be “the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game”.
At the moment only 14 league clubs have fan representatives on their board.
“Too often fans are treated like an after-thought as ticket prices are hiked-up, grounds re-located and clubs burdened with debt or the threat of bankruptcy,” said Clive Efford MP, Shadow Sports Minister, who MOMS meet in Parliament in July. “Only this week, the BBC’s Price of football survey showed how average prices have risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011. We have reached a tipping point in the way football is run.”
Of course, this is not the first time Labour have turned to their attention to football in the attempt to safeguard supporters, their ‘football taskforce’ during their time in government largely failed to have much of an impact, but at least there seems to a renewed effort to finally tackle the problem.
This view is echoed by Jon Cruddas MP, head of Labour’s Policy Review.
“The Premier League is a huge success. But football is more than a business,” stated Cruddas. “Football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. Our plan is to give fans a stake in their clubs.”
In the last year, MOMS along with other Villa supporters has helped relaunched the Aston Villa Supporters Trust to help potentially facilitate Labour’s proposals, if they or similar proposals from other parties come to pass.
As you can see from the brief outline of Labour’s policy below that a Supporters Trust is key to actioning it.
[From the Labour Party’s press release: LABOUR: PUTTING FANS AT THE HEART OF FOOTBALL’S FUTURE ]
Right to appoint up to a quarter or a minimum of two of the directors
Labour would legislate to give a legally enforceable right to the Supporters Trust to appoint and remove up to one quarter and not less than two of the members of the Board of Directors.
This would be underpinned by the right to obtain (under an obligation of confidentiality) financial and commercial information about the business and affairs of a football club.
Supporters would not be able to block takeovers or change corporate strategy.
The option of up to 10 per cent of share ownership
The buyer acquiring control of the club (defined at a 30 per cent level) would be required to offer the Supporters Trust up to ten per cent of the shares they were buying in that transaction at the average price paid by the buyer for relevant securities in the year proceeding the change of control. That offer would be open for acceptance for not less than 240 days but the completion of the change in control could happen in the meantime.
This automatic option would be capped once a Trust had acquired 10 per cent of the club’s shares, though that would not prevent the Trust from buying more shares if it wanted.
Accredited Supporters’ Trusts
The legislation would contain provisions requiring Supporters Trusts to become Industrial and Provident Societies. They would be accredited to an umbrella body and would be required to meet certain governance standards, including a compliant constitution, the election of a Board with one member one vote, and provision for membership fees.
The umbrella body would be required to offer training to supporters before taking up positions on Boards.
We have received expert legal advice that these reforms are compatible with European law.
While it may be a way off yet, we’ll do our best to keep you posted on all the related issues moving forward.
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