Often Partisan

Supporters Summit

Yesterday Supporters Direct (SD) and the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) held a joint “Supporters Summit” at St George’s Park. The summit was to look at issues surrounding the game such as transparency, discrimination and sustainability with people such as the Head of FA David Bernstein and Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham MP leading discussions on various panels.

I went to the summit for two reasons; one, as a member of the Blues Trust I have a vested interest in talking to people about improving levels of communication between fans and clubs and in sustainability in the game. Secondly, as owner of this website I thought it was important to go to listen to what was said and to report it to people who might have been interested but couldn’t attend.

Football governance was one of the key themes of the summit. Andy Burnham MP told assembled delegates in the opening plenary session of the difficulties he had whilst he was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport of obtaining any kind of help from the FA to try to improve the way the game was run. The common theme was that money overpowered everything; whilst the FA were duty bound to regulate a game which has over 44,000 clubs registered to them, they were effectively having to bow to the whims of the top few in how the game was run. Burnham spoke of a need for the FA to be given more power to allow them to ensure that the game was run on a sustainable level and not just for the benefit of a few clubs with money.

Sustainability was another key theme; Paul Rawnsley, who is Director of Sports Business Group at Deloitte and who has been working with UEFA with regards to their financial fair play rules discussed in one of a series of workshops how whilst income in the Premier League has gone up by an average of 14% a year since inception player wages have gone up by an average of 17%. In other words, no matter how much more money has been pumped into the game it’s continued to be paid out in ever-increasing amounts to the players and thus there is no surprise that last season one in 2 Premier League clubs made a loss whilst that figure was 3 in 4 in the Championship.

There were discussions of how supporters of football clubs in other countries had successfully built fan-owned clubs and had resisted change away from scenarios where fan owned clubs were a legal necessity. Tony Ernst and Lena Gustafsson Wiberg of the Swedish supporters group SFSU spoke of their four year fight to maintain the rules that mean Swedish clubs in all sports must have a minimum of 51% fan ownership, and about how that fight is still ongoing as the bigger sports clubs are trying to continually force change.

Micah Hall, the Portsmouth fan who uncovered the story behind the issues that befell his club and told the world via his blog articles spoke about asking questions of owners and building a culture of transparency. Again, the theme was very much about how fan-owned clubs have to be seen as a better model for the running of a club for the benefit of its supporters – Hall is now engagement manager at Portsmouth Community Football Club after the success of their Supporters Trust takeover.

As someone who thinks that there has to be more supporter involvement in the way football is run I came away with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s good to see so many people who evidently passionately care for the sport and want to do what they can to help keep it accessible to fans and who want to help ensure it remains sustainable for the future. On the other hand, it’s distressing to hear that the powers that be are so beholden to the television rights money that they can’t change things for the better for fear of losing it.

I agree with Andy Burnham who spoke about how the Football Association has to change so that it properly represents and regulates the 44,000 clubs registered to it rather than being forced to pander to the whims of the top twenty or so; on the other hand I agree with the statement (and I must apologise as I can’t recall who made it ) that if things are going to change then it must be fan driven – rather than complaining about how football is run people must take action and force change.

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46 Responses to “Supporters Summit”

  • Oldbluenose says:

    The main point that struck me was the back-end of your last paragraph, !!.

    As the F-A, are the main body governing the game of football, How does one ” shake them up,” ?.
    They are not exactly ” Gettable ” at, When they come up for re-election, — It’s the old-boys network, !!.

    • almajir says:

      I think it has to come from above, from the government – similar to how Leveson is shaking up how the press work – which means fans forcing political pressure

      • Northern Exile says:

        I remember around the time of the 2010 general election, Labour came out with plans to pass laws to have mandatory supporter representation on boards of football clubs and maybe even a compulsory percentage level of fan ownership at each club (I don’t remember it in great detail). Probably boils down to the fact that Gordon Brown is on the board at Raith Rovers, one of my local clubs.

        It makes me wonder whether the government themselves would need to have a vested interest in change, too, for anything to happen on that front.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Almajir, did you gain a sense of the general awareness of the plight of BCFC and was there any reference to us?

    • almajir says:

      Yes, there was definitely some awareness of what is happening at Blues and I’m proud to say I got namechecked by Micah Hall when he spoke about people finding information on their clubs. Blues Trust sent four representatives to the meeting and I have no doubt that they will have done what they can to meet people to try and raise awareness too.

      • Bluenosesol says:

        Well done Al and thank you. My belief is that the player salary bubble which is ruining the game in the UK is going to burst and when it does the overpaid overseas players who are here to cream off the TV profits will all run back to mummy! I can recall a time when we could not compete with Spain or Italy for the best players in Europe. When asked why they dont wish to play in the UK, they would cite the bad weather, the drab cities, the lack of quality food and culture. Strange we dont hear that now the TV companies have made the UK the highest payers in Europe.

  • sutton apex says:

    well done al – good report. I know i always say this but fans in the championship can shake things up – once that last 3 million parachute is paid our gate money will be the biggest revenue in the club ( unlike the premier, gate money is at best 20% ). We all must join the trust – i did, a united front will make any board listen. Swansea is the business model for all of us – but the trust got involved when their gate money was important – the rest is history as they say !!

  • Ted says:

    Well done Sir. Glad you attended and represented.

  • Art Watson says:

    Almajir,

    Another great report and thanks.

    Are the Blues Supporters Trust making any progress with what’s going on at STA?

    Do they have any influence?

    • TracyKRO says:

      Art I think there are a few groups you can join, I don’t know much about them but I think you will get to know more than the other fans do.

      • Art Watson says:

        Tracy thanks.

        We actually live in Cyprus now so we would find it difficult to get any benefit out of joining a group.
        I was hoping that the Supporters Trust were able to influence the awful state of affairs at STA but know doubt they are trying their best without too much success.

  • ChrisG says:

    Dan is there any news on the takeover front at Blues?. The last I heard ( which seems like an eternity ago) Sammy Yu & his consortium were interested but it all seems to have gone quiet (again!!)

  • TBone says:

    The FA needs a complete overhaul…again. Full of dinosaurs who are only interested in the cash cow that is the Premier League. They’re killing/stifling the evolvement of football in this country.
    You’ve only got to look at the lack of strength in depth of the U21’s to see that we’re drifting further and further away from the likes of Spain, Italy , Holland , Germany etc.
    If we’re to become a serious force in world football then something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

  • AR says:

    A big “thank you” once again. Though I think Bernstein hasn’t done too badly, the ex-BBC chief (whose name I’ve forgotten) may do something. The doubt in my mind is that though he was chairman at Brentford (a good sign), he was once on Manchester United’s board and that doesn’t augur well for making changes for supporter driven clubs. How have the Germans done it?

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    AR

    Don’t mention how the Germans did it

  • Marky mark says:

    Any significant change will have to come from the government and whilst they are making a fortune out of football as well its not going to happen.

    Massive credit to Portsmouth fans its definate the way to go, but that road is long and painfull.

    Yet again quality feedback from the number 1 blog.

  • DoctorD says:

    What we have in this country is a wonderfully meritocratic pyramid system in which clubs can rise and fall on their relatively ability to marshall players into winning teams (or not as the case may be).

    The problem is that the top of the pyramid is not meritocratic in the slightest — it’s based purely on the finances of the owners.

    Unfortunately, as Jose Mourinho recently pointed out about the top flight of English football: you know it’s not good for you, but you just can’t help loving it. Watching the Premiership is like stuffing yourself on chips every single night with lashings of ketchup and vinegar: utterly addictive but utterly bad for you and everyone else.

    There’s only one solution: a cap on transfer fees that can be paid during the course of a season, a limit on players’ wages, and a much reduced TV deal. Never going to happen though.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      “There’s only one solution: a cap on transfer fees that can be paid during the course of a season, a limit on players’ wages, and a much reduced TV deal. ”

      Absolutely, that is the only way to save football. Trouble is, it’s the top 20 pigs with their snouts in the trough, getting fatter and fatter. No room for the other 72 piglets, which means they’ll slowly starve to death, one-by-one. How many FL clubs do you think will survive the next 10-20 years?

  • dave mann says:

    0ver the next 20 years i guess maybe half a dozen league clubs wiil actually fold, with a few
    others getting saved at the last momment. that maybe a little high, but a lot of clubs now
    including ourselves propably didnt see it comming. were be fine because we are a big city
    club, and we just need new owners to get us out of our current situation. as for the fat
    cats we cant be envious because we all as fans would want to be in there situation,
    premier league, millions to spend, top players on board, europe every season. they only care
    about themselves and unfortunatley thats the way of the world.KRO.

  • Teej says:

    Great reporting again Dan. The FA are weak, just look how ineffective they were when racism raised its ugly head again recently. I have joined the Blues Trust for the very reasons you listed. Partisan support at any club unfortunately is seen by many as a valuable commodity. The FA’s decisions should be made by voting trust members from all clubs or indeed all clubs. That would be far more democratic. Keep right on Dan, your lighting the way!

  • Tony says:

    Dan would it not be a good start to strictly limit the amount of overseas players in each team since they outnumber the homegrown players on large salaries. Also would have the added advantage of bringing our own talent on, who would be on far lower wages it may lead to a reduction in talent for a while but in the long run would be of great benefit.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Tony;, I seem to recall from the long distant past, Your comment about reducing the numbers of ” foriegn ” per 1st team, being strongly pushed, !!. — Sadly as usual, — Nothing ever came of it, !!!.

  • Tony says:

    ssshhhh Dont mention the Germans

  • Casper says:

    Something certainly needs to be done to change how football is run at the top level, particularly regarding how young English talent is nurtured, because given how Pearce’s youngsters performed recently and now the under 20’s can’t even finish off Iraq!!! (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/23025510) On this basis the future for the senior national team is looking pretty bleak! KRO

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Redmond is off. Two premier centre backs on the way. Can’t wait to see who they are. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/nathan-redmond-set-leave-birmingham-4705764

    • StaffsBlue says:

      The sales of Davies and Redmond should, hopefully, see us through to the sale of the club (hopefully.)

      • almajir says:

        I wouldn’t bank on it

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I did say hopefully x 2 :)

          • Art Watson says:

            StaffsBlue,

            Do you see now that PP is asset stripping the club and that Clark /Remond have no say in the matter.

            Redmond will go and King/Burke will follow before the end of the season.

            When I see the amount of money that loyal fansare puting into the club and are currently being taken for a complete ride it makes my blood boil.The way forward is to starve owners of any further income which will then force them tto sell the club.PP will not allow the club to go into administration because the owners will lose a substantial sum of money.(multi millions)

            I dare not go to print with what I really want to say but it’s a complete outrage and a disgrace.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            I’m still not convinced of asset stripping, but we’re certainly seeing assets sold to keep us going. I think it was inevitable at the end of the season that Davies and Redmond would follow Butland out of the door. But, no one can be forced to sign a contract for anyone else, any more than they can be forced to re-sign for us.

            We won’t know anything for sure until the result of the court case. If, when that happens and it is proved that they were asset stripping, I’ll come on and offer you an apology and agree that you were right all along. Can’t say fairer than that can I?

            Another thought… have you wondered what would have happened if we HAD won promotion through the play-offs? Same players sales? More effort to sell the club? Hang on for the premiership money?

  • Tony says:

    People should understand fully just how much power Sky have in sport.they own it in this country ,not just Football look at that ridiculous game of rugby leauge its a northern thing it goes with whippet racing,pigeon fancying, and Andy Cap.
    But Sky have elevated it to some kind of beautiful game, and the oversized players treated like pop stars. Ridiculous

    • StaffsBlue says:

      And that’s why I cancelled my Sky Sports subscription as soon as we got relegated. I’ve not watched a live Premier League game since. I’m not interested in seeing Man Ure, Man Sh1tty, Arsenholes, Chelski or Liverpool play almost every week. I watch MOTD, but that’s it.

      When Sky start a sports channel just for the Football League, then I’ll think again.

  • Tony says:

    Staffs what would you say to Foster? hes been released by Wolves, I know the tribal fans will go crazy and he was not good for Wolves BUT He played well for us put himself in when it hurt.
    Yes I know he left to feather his own nest and he came unstuck Im pleased he did, but that was then this is now, we need central defenders.

    • almajir says:

      Surely you mean Johnson?

      And no, I don’t want him back.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think Johnson played well for us and I wouldn’t be averse to re-signing him on a free. But he is 31 (?) Do we want to bring the ave age up again?

      I saw a Cardiff fan comment somewhere today, saying they should re-sign him.

    • Pete says:

      When are people going to realise- we cannot afford Roger Johnson and his like who have been on good money…! If we cannot agree a deal for Hull city defenders (not on contracts from the Prem but championship deals) what do people think we can afford?

  • Alex T says:

    Just heard we have accepted paltry bids for Redmond. Thats it. No more of my hard earned is going to this poxy bunch of chancers. I sadly, wont be renewing my season ticket.

    Also, if 1500 bluenoses dont renew directly because of this news, it wont even have been worth the sale fee!

    Pannu, you have lost the plot. For the love of god, Get out of our club!

  • Alex T says:

    clearly this devastating news has mushed my brain….. the figure would be more like 6000 ST holders not renewing. But its still a valid point IMO

  • Tony says:

    Yes of course Dan Johnson apologies

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Apparently though, Lee Clark has already agreed deals with 2 centre backs and their clubs for season-long loans. So that would rule out Johnson, because he’s not a Premier League defender……………………………… anymore. lol

  • Tony says:

    The fat controller is really switching into overdrive now, as I said previously he will sell the nets and white paint if hes allowed.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Makes you wonder though. As has been said before, there’s no way he’ll let us go into administration and stand to lose everything. So, if they are asset stripping, it means thay’ll have to sell the club a hell of a lot cheaper than they originally wanted… which may be the plan. Roll on the end of the court case.

  • TracyKRO says:

    Everyone should read what Clark has said about the bids been accepted, at the bottom evening mail web,this is wot he says line is that the most important people in all of this are the fans. We have got to make sure the club is still there for them.


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