The government and football authorities are to work together to explore ways in which fans can have more engagement in the running of the clubs they support, Sports Minister Helen Grant (pictured) announced today.
The Supporter Ownership and Engagement Expert group, that will have its first meeting in London next month, has representatives on it from Government, the Premier League, The FA, the Football League, Supporters Direct, the legal profession, insolvency and tax experts and representatives from clubs that are ran by supporters (Portsmouth FC, AFC Wimbledon and Wrexham).
Areas that the group will look at include seeing what more can be done to help supporters groups have stronger links with the executives and owners running clubs, look at removing barriers to clubs becoming community-owned assets, when opportunities arise for that to be a sustainable and viable option.
Helen Grant launched the group on a visit to Fratton Park today and said:
“Football fans are the lifeblood of the club they support. Owners, executives and managers may come and go but it is the fans that are the constant, loyally following their clubs through thick and thin. We want to see what more we can do to give fans a stronger voice in how their club is run as well as looking at ways in which we can help remove some of the barriers to supporter ownership.”
PST chairman Ashley Brown who was also at the launch event today, added -
"We are proud to host the launch of this DCMS Expert group. At Pompey we have repeatedly seen the impact of our club being managed poorly by people who did not share our passion for this historic club. Our supporters have shown what is possible when working together for a common cause and we hope our involvement in this group will help to find ways for other clubs to break down barriers between owners, boardroom and supporters."
The group will be independently chaired by PST member Joanna Manning-Cooper. Joanna has worked in sport for many years and is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for England Rugby 2015, organisers of next year’s Rugby World Cup. Previously to that she was the Head of Media for LOCOG, organisers of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and prior to that, Director of Communications for the Financial Times.
The group will make recommendations to government, reporting into the Sports Minister.