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Friday
Jul292011

Trust welcomes Select Committee report

The Fulham Supporters' Trust today welcomes the publication of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report into Football Governance.

The Trust, along with 35 other supporters' trust, supplied written evidence at the request of the Committee earlier this year. The report recommends introducing a licensing model into English football, applying a stronger and more effective fit and proper persons test with consistency, abolishing the Football Creditors' Rule, amending legislation to assist and empower supporters' trust and calls for urgent reform of the Football Association.

You can read the full report on the Select Committee's website. You can read the Fulham Supporters' Trust submission to the Committee here.

Wednesday
Jul272011

Re-instatement of Funding for Supporters Direct

Last month we stated our concern for the future of Supporters Direct (SD), following the withdrawal of funding intended for it by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), administrators of the Premier League Fans' Fund. Reaction from fans, journalists and politicians was immediate and critical. In mid-June, MP and Trust member, Tom Greatrex tabled an Early Day Motion (no. 1909) in support of the restoration of funding to SD, which received cross-party support and 81 signatures.

Later that month, new acting Chief Executive of SD, Brian Burgess, met with the FSIF; discussions were positive, a line was drawn under the comments made by the previous Chief Executive, and it was indicated that a new application for funding was likely to be welcomed. At the SD AGM on 15th. July, it was announced that the FSIF had agreed to an initial grant of £268,000 to fund SD. The Fans’ Fund panel will meet again in August to discuss the outstanding additional grant applications from SD. 

Tom Greatrex MP said: "Common sense has finally prevailed with this decision - it has been a very unsettling few weeks for the people involved in Supporters Direct - and particularly for the staff of the organisation who work very hard to support and advise Trusts up and down the country.

Supporters Direct work to help give fans a strong voice in the decisions which affect their clubs. To have cut their funding, seemingly as a reaction to offensive tweets from a former Chief Executive, was a crass over-reaction and sent out a signal that the views of ordinary fans didn't matter to the Premier League.

I congratulate Brian Burgess, the interim Chief Executive of Supporters Direct and the Chair of Supporters Direct Dame Pauline Green on the progress they have made, and the support they have received from the Co-operative Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson.

There are still some questions to be answered about longer-term funding, which I hope the Premier League will resolve as soon as possible. There also remains some uncertainty in relation to the ongoing support provided to Supporters Direct in Scotland.

MPs across the political divide have been united in our view that it is vital that Supporters Direct is secure in its long-term funding, but remains an independent and respected voice for supporters' interests in football. Too many of us, either through our own experience with Trusts, or as supporters of Trusts in our constituencies have experience of what happens when fans are left to pick up the pieces of clubs neglected by previous owners. That is why Labour and Co-operative MPs have been at the forefront of the Parliamentary campaign to promote mutuality in football.

What was very clear from the weekend's conference is that the Supporters Trust movement is in great heart, and Trusts in numerous clubs are making decisions and running clubs for the good of their communities and the supporters' interests. That the immediate threat has been removed from Supporters Direct allows the organisation to get on with the vital work they do in promoting and supporting Trusts help make the national game our national game."

Cathy Jamieson MP, who seconded Tom’s Early Day Motion, said: "There will be huge relief for fans up and down the country at this news, I am pleased that this has finally been resolved. The work of Supporters Direct is key to ensuring the fans of football clubs have a strong voice in the way their clubs are run and I am glad this will continue.

It is a testament to all those across the co-op movement that this has been resolved and the Trust is moving on. I am excited that Supporters Trust can be secure in their future and focus entirely promoting the interests of fans. It is a great example of how Co-op MPs in Parliament can have a voice on behalf of the movement and I look forward to supporting the work of the Trust."

Monday
Jul182011

Ashwater Press: an independent voice for Fulham’s history

Trust members and fans of Fulham in general will be familiar with the range of books from Ashwater Press, including the 'Tales from the Riverbank' volumes and the fine tome on Johnny Haynes. For some years, Ashwater have attempted to broaden the scope of their retail outlets, including those of the club itself. It is debatable whether any of their books will (or would have) detracted from any club product, aside from being considerably better-researched and without the embarrassing factual errors that are commonplace in official publications. Regrettably, the club has placed a number of obstacles in the way of any progress, including some financial demands that are both unreasonable and punitive. In a detailed statement, which is attached, Martin Plumb and Ken Coton explain why they believe they have reached an impasse with the club.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the senior management at Fulham Football Club neither understands, nor has any serious knowledge of, Fulham's rich and chequered history, but believes that it should be used only as sales support to market 'brand product', presumably to those that consider that Fulham's history commenced in 1997. A perhaps more disturbing aspect is the apparent, but unstated, desire for control of the reporting of Fulham's history by corporate personnel whose turnover is high and tenure brief. The Club’s loyal, often long-suffering, fans are the guardians of its history and those more recent its inheritors. This history is best recounted by diligent researchers, those who are independent of ‘brand’ pressures and the need to promote revisionary accounts.

Among several items in preparation or in a state of near-completion are volumes 3 and 4 of ‘Tales from the Riverbank’, ‘Keegan’s Kingdom’ (celebrating the 1999 Champions side) and ‘40 years of Fulham in Colour’. Trust members are urged to read the statement from Ken and Martin on our web-site and look for publication announcements on that of Ashwater Press (http://www.ashwaterpress.co.uk/).

Wednesday
Jun152011

Trust Statement on Supporters Direct

Supporters Direct (SD) is an umbrella organisation established in 2000, by the United Kingdom government (with cross-party support) to provide support and assistance for its member trusts to secure a greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs (and, more recently, other sports) and within their governing structures. SD’s record is impressive and its efforts have led to the creation of 180 supporters’ trusts across the UK, representing 270,000 members.

The Fulham Supporters' Trust has been a member since its inception and we recognise the vitality of a national body for football trusts and similar bodies for the independent supporters’ movement. SD gives a range of support to trusts, advising on administrative and legal matters and offering short training courses for trust officials and FST has benefited greatly from these. If a trust falters, as can happen, SD will step in to give advice and encouragement in order to galvanise.

Thus, the Trust is gravely concerned by the recent withdrawal of circa £1.2 million in funding intended for SD by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), administrators of the Premier League Fans' Fund, which threatens the very existence of SD.

The Trust notes that, prior to the General Election, all three main political parties made promises to increase the influence of fan ownership in football and sport in general. Further, the current sports minister, Hugh Robertson, promised to ensure Supporters Direct would continue to be funded. The Fulham Supporters' Trust supports the action to bring pressure to bear on the FSIF to rescind its decision.

Wednesday
May112011

Trust attend Supporters Direct policy launch at Westminster

Tom Greatrex MP (left) with Trust committee member Dan CrawfordThe Fulham Supporters Trust were delighted to attend the launch of two new Supporters Direct policy papers this afternoon at Westminster.

The two briefing papers - Developing Public Policy to Encourage Supporter Community Ownership in Football and Developing Football Regulation to Encourage Supporter Community Ownership in Football - are intended to inform the Coalition government and members of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee ahead of the publication of the Committee's report on football governance.

You can download the policy papers here and here.

The launch was hosted by former Fulham Supporters' Trust chair Tom Greatrex and attended by a number of MPs and supporters' trust representatives.