Football fans from across the north-west region and a former England international gathered in Blackpool in September to support a new campaign that aims to accelerate the process of change to the way football clubs can be owned and run.
Supporters from Blackpool, Morecambe, Blackburn Rovers and even a Bristol City fan who had travelled from the west country were joined by former Blackpool favourite Trevor Sinclair for a passionate two-hour debate that outlined solutions to regulate clubs and the way owners can run them. A full reform document will be delivered to the government after fans have had their say at four further events across the country.
Sinclair, who won 8 caps with England in a career spanning five clubs, added his support to the campaign and said: “I fell in love with the town of Blackpool and played for the club for four years, but I’m very worried about them and others too. The problem is that English football is governed, not by one body, but by two; the FA and the Premier League. The issues it creates must be taken to Westminster and football has to be given back to the people.”
The #FansNotNumbers campaign is a joint initiative between Supporters Direct, sportswear company SKINS and social media platform SPORF. The solutions discussed included the creation of an independent regulatory body that will be given central powers to enforce annual compliance tests on clubs and owners.
SKINS Chairman, Jaimie Fuller, a sports governance campaigner who has used his company’s international platform to mount successful challenges to governance at FIFA, the UCI and the IOC said:
“If an owner mismanages the local football club, the impact on the local community is massive. It cannot be allowed to happen anymore. The FA was quick to act when they thought Sam Allardyce had brought the game into disrepute as England manager, but they struggle to be as quick with club owners and administrators.”
James Mathie of Supporters Direct said: “The FA needs assistance and the delivery of greater powers so that it can genuinely tackle meaningful change to how clubs are run. Currently, they have delegated too much power to the leagues which are different to most of the rest of Europe where the national organisation is in overall charge of compliance.
“Club licensing needs to be applied as a pro-active and preventative measure whereby clubs can actually be properly censured or even stopped from competing. It works successfully in most European countries, so why not here? In Germany for example, you have to earn your licence. You’re a custodian and you’re accountable on an annual basis.”
4 further events, including Manchester and London, have taken place to allow fans from as many clubs as possible to play their part in shaping the final Supporters Direct reform document. They are:
For details on how you can join the campaign, head to: fansnotnumbers.org or join the debate on Twitter #FansNotNumbers.