From Wrexham to Westminster and beyond – David Lampitt, chief executive of Supporters Direct, reflects on another hectic twelve months for fan ownership and influence in the world of football.
As we begin 2013, the time seems right to reflect on another busy year for the supporters’ trust movement across the UK and Europe.
It began in the afterglow of the news that the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust had finally seen their lengthy campaign to take the club into community ownership pay off – and that success was among the many topics discussed at SD’s Parliamentary event in February, where our Key Principles for a Club Licensing system in the English pyramid were launched. One of the speakers, Tom Greatrex MP, summed up the mood when he declared that “nobody seriously doubts the ability of fans to contribute in a constructive way”.
The truth of his statement was evident throughout 2012. A look back through the SD website news archives shows a steady stream of great work being done, and many moments for celebration – including the news in March that FC United of Manchester had reached their target of raising £1.6 million via a community shares scheme. The scheme remains open, and all funds will be used to help build a new community facility and home for FCUM in Moston. Similar schemes have since been launched by the Wrexham, Rangers and Pompey Supporters’ Trusts.
Indeed as the year continued it emerged that, arguably, Portsmouth would once again be the story of 2012. At the time of writing, a court case that will decide the fate of the club has been adjourned until 15 January, but the Pompey Supporters’ Trust remain resolute in their belief that their ambition of creating Britain’s biggest community-owned club will be realised.
Further afield, the number of European groups aiming to become involved in the ownership and governance of their clubs continued to grow. In Italy, Fondazione Taras, the supporters’ trust at Taranto FC 1927, became the second group to secure board representation and a shareholding in their club, while the number of groups throughout the country reached double figures. There was a similar story in Ireland, where Cork City went from strength to strength under supporter ownership, and a November conference saw representatives from a range of groups gather to discuss the way forward.
SD Europe is now in contact with groups in more than 20 European countries, and the publication of its first position paper – “The heart of the game: Why supporters are vital to improving governance in football” – was also a major milestone. The idea that football clubs should be run in a sustainable manner is gaining wider acceptance among supporters, clubs, leagues, associations, national governments and European institutions.
It was a memorable 2012, and this year will, no doubt, be equally exciting. There is a major opportunity for football supporters across Europe to play a greater role at their clubs – and Supporters Direct will continue to work to make sure that as many as possible are able to do so.
Supporters Direct website: www.supporters-direct.coop
Follow SD on Twitter: @SuppDirect
At the Oxford Utd game Dons fans organised a bucket collection to give Neal Ardley additional funds to spend during the January transfer window.
On the day more than £3,500 was donated. Since then, further donations have been received and the total now stands at £4,226.
The Club, Trust and organisers would like to thank everyone for their generosity.