Club director part of working group
A government report which encourages more fan ownership of football clubs has been welcomed by Portsmouth Football Club.
An expert working group to look at football supporter ownership and engagement, was set up by the Department of Culture Media and Sport 15 months ago and Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch MP has published its findings at a press conference at fellow fan-owned club AFC Wimbledon.
Ashley Brown, club director and chairman of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, was a member of the expert working group.
The PST led a protracted community bid to buy the club, which was finally successful in April 2013 and Brown was able to use this experience to help shape the report’s findings.
Independent chair of the expert working group Joanna Manning-Cooper, who is also a Pompey fan and community shareholder, said: “This is football’s report – compiled by football supporters and by the football authorities.
“We were determined to produce a report with clear recommendations and negotiated agreements rather than another 'wish list' with no outcomes or solutions.
“We believe this report offers positive benefits for the game. It will encourage supporter ownership where it is a credible and sensible solution for a football club, and it will lead to new and improved levels of meaningful engagement and dialogue between clubs and fans, ensuring that the issues which matter to both can be addressed.”
The key recommendations the report, which has been endorsed by the Football League, FA Premier League and National League, makes are as follows:
- Requirement for administrators to meet with Supporter Trusts in club insolvency situations and credible Trusts given opportunity to bid for club.
- FA Premier League to contribute £1m to a ‘Fans’ Fund’ to support Trust bids to buy clubs.
- Supporters’ Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation to develop a database of experts to support fans seeking to buy clubs on a pro bono basis.
- Football authorities to keep Owners and Directors’ Test under constant review.
- Government should look at Social Investment Tax Relief with regards to Supporters Trusts to see if this would provide a tax-efficient way for them to accrue funds.
- Government and the football authorities should consider if a Community Owned Sports Club model should be accepted as a legitimate operating model giving supporter owned clubs tax breaks.
- Any planned substantial changes to club colours or crests to be discussed with fans as part of the structured engagement.
Ashley Brown said: “The football authorities now not only recognise the importance of closer engagement, but also how fan ownership has a role to play in the future of the game.
“Some of the barriers we encountered have been removed and we hope to see more fan-owned clubs in the coming years.”
Club chief executive Mark Catlin added: “We welcome the findings of the expert group published in this report.
“Our experience shows that fan ownership – even at clubs which, like Pompey, aspire to play in the upper echelons of the game – is no barrier to sustainability and success, both on and off the field.
“Any measures which can break down the barriers to achieving more fan involvement in the ownership of football clubs up and down the country are to be welcomed in our view, so this report is a huge step in the right direction.”
A statement on the report by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust can be read here.