Done Trist Board Member Niall Couper discusses the importance of the Fair Game movement.
Goosepimples? I reckon. Look around. We did this. The seat you are in. The floodlights arching over you. Every blade of grass in front of you.
Ever since that infamous letter arrived on the doormats of Wimbledon fans back in 2001, insisting that our place in the Football League should be hived off to a town in Buckinghamshire, we as fans have been striving for this moment.
Our own ground. In front of our own fans. Back in our own town. That is what the Dons Trust is about. It is a Community Thing (copyright: Lou Carton-Kelly circa 2002).
For me, that mantra should not just apply to us. It is about football as a whole.
In the background, the Dons Trust has been at the forefront of a movement called Fair Game trying to change the game we love for the better. At the time of print, Fair Game has 20 clubs signed up, is supported by 32 world renowned experts, and is backed by politicians.
Fair Game wants a sport where every fan can put their shirt on in the morning proud in what it stands for, safe in the knowledge that the traditions and heritage of their club will always be there.
Sounds simple enough, but our own history proves how much of a battle that is. And you only have to look at the likes of Bury or Macclesfield or even the Bluebirds playing in red, and Hull being renamed the Tigers to realise how quickly it can all disappear.
Indeed, today’s opponents have also come remarkably close to vanishing off the map – and seeing decades of proud history sold down the river. In simple terms, that can no longer be allowed to happen. We need the fan-led review to deliver. We need value-driven clubs to join Fair Game and make a stand.
Central to all of this is independent regulation that works, and that incentivises good management of football clubs.
A regulator free from vested interest, with the best skillsets to deliver, and representative of all elements of football and society.
A regulator that runs an owners and directors test that is fit for purpose.
A regulator that stops clubs spending more on players’ wages than they actually earn.
A regulator that sees equality standards as more than just a tick-box exercise.
A regulator that rewards fan engagement and good governance.
A regulator that scraps the parachute payments and gives clubs down to the National League North and South a proper share of football’s wealth.
The Premier League gives 10% of its TV revenues to the seven clubs receiving parachute payments – the other 64 clubs in the EFL are given 4%.
It is not an impossible dream. AFC Wimbledon fans have proven that dreams can come true. It can happen. This is our moment. Bolton Wanderers join us. The moment is now. I have goosepimples thinking about the future. Let’s change football together.