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.


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.


Leyton Orient's fight continues

In February, the Trust supported a call from an independent fans' body at Leyton Orient FC for football fans to support their objections to West Ham United FC being awarded use of the Olympic Stadium, following the games in 2012.

We noted that the very limited consultations with Hammers fans had revealed remarkably little support for uprooting the club from its long-term home and away from its fan-base. There was even less desire for a similar move on the part of fans of Tottenham Hotspur FC. Despite belligerent statements from the directors of both clubs, the bulk of their fans remain opposed to a move. Rather than discuss the footballing and fans issues involved, many in the media have sought to polarise the matter around the personalities at the clubs involved, none of whom inspire a moment’s empathy. 

Subsequently, the Football Supporters' Federation hosted a online petition 'Save Leyton Orient Football Club' (, which the Trust supports and commends to its members and fans of Fulham FC in general. 

A fortnight ago, the Os applied for a judicial review (i) over the award of the stadium to West Ham and (ii) the loan of £40 million by the London Borough of Newham ( to a stadium company from which West Ham would rent. The borough's website is both vague with regard to detail and over-optimistic on the stadium's use and revenue generation ( 

Neither West Ham United nor Newham borough have been given much thought, at least publicly, to the potentially adverse effects on the Os of having a Premier League club moving into the immediate vicinity of their established home. Part of the Os claim is that the Premier League has broken its own rules in sanctioning such a move.

This move would add even further pressure, as an alternative attraction, on professional and semi-professional football clubs in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Although the Os are having a successful season, and are in with a chance of reaching the League One play offs, it is debatable whether they could compete with a Premier League team in terms of attendance, even if they were to be promoted. 

Within Waltham Forest, the fortunes of its lower league clubs have deteriorated considerably. Sadly, Leyton FC, Greater London's second oldest club, withdrew from the Ryman League Division One North in mid-January, 2011, their playing record being expunged for this season, It is uncertain whether the club can be resurrected. 

In the same division, Waltham Forest FC, has been ground-sharing outside the borough since 2008 (in Ilford FC's Cricklefield Stadium). Although they were scheduled to return to their Wadham Lodge ground in October, 2010, this has been delayed and the club languishes at the foot of the division, with relegation a certainty unless a major restructuring of non-league football enables them to retain their status. 

For all three clubs and their fans, the potential arrival of West Ham United on their doorstep, a move which has been termed a footballing franchise, is as unwelcome a prospect as it is to the fans of 'The Hammers'.


Trust to host Football Supporters' Federation (Southern Division) AGM

FST is pleased to be able to host the annual general meeting of the Southern Division of the Football Supporters’ Federation, which will take place on Sunday 17th April, 2011, upstairs at The Brewer Hall Building, St Mary's Church on Putney High Street.

In addition to the formal business of the Southern Division, topics for discussion at this meeting will include the following:

Ticketing Issues - ticket prices, away tickets, 'early bird' season ticket deadlines.

Respect - on and off the field of play. Where do you stand on the Wayne Rooney debate?. What is your club doing locally?

This is a delegates only meeting.


Parliamentary inquiry into football governance 

In December, 2010, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched a new inquiry into the governance of professional football clubs, in order to examine the broader concerns that current and future generations of football supporters of clubs across the country are ill-served by current football club regulations.


The coalition agreement included an undertaking to encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters. The inquiry will consider the case for strategic Government intervention in the administration of professional football clubs.


In so doing it will look at the scope for enhancing supporter involvement in decision-making processes and consider whether current regulatory processes – including fit and proper persons tests – are adequate.


Are there lessons to be learned from football governance models across the UK and abroad, and from governance models in other sports?


Committee Chair Mr John Whittingdale said: "The Government has said that it will encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters, and there is widespread concern that the current governance arrangements are not fit-for-purpose.


Our inquiry will look at the case for strategic Government intervention and improved self-regulation and will consider models which involve supporters more in how clubs are run. We are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties, including fans, as well as the clubs themselves and their own regulatory bodies."


The committee is expected to finish their hearings in April and a report is due to be produced by the summer. 

FST submission


The Fulham Supporters' Trust supports the aims of the inquiry and made a submission based on six themes related to the questions below:


Should football clubs in the UK be treated differently from other commercial organisations?


Are football governance rules in England and Wales, and the governing bodies which set and apply them, fit for purpose?


Is there too much debt in the professional game?


What are the pros and cons of the Supporter Trust share-holding model?


Is Government intervention justified and, if so, what form should it take?


You can read the Fulham Supporters' Trust's submission here.

Evidence from others

In addition to making its own submission, the national body of supporters' trusts, Supporters Direct, has collated those from individuals, fans' groups, professional and policy bodies and these may be viewed through here.

In his capacity as a member of the Management Committee of the Professional Footballers' Association, Fulham FC's Brede Hangeland was scheduled to give evidence at the inquiry on 15th. February, 2011.