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MPs call for fan power football in clubs

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Fans have been arguing for it for years, the right to have a greater say in the way their club is run.

This week, a group of MPs and peers joined them in their campaign. For too long, the politicians say, the fortunes of football clubs have been linked to the whims of financiers.

On occasions that had taken some clubs to the brink of extinction.

In their report they say: “At all levels, clubs are prone to sudden changes of fortune and financial crises, brought about not by their fortunes on the pitch, but by the capricious behaviour of many owners of clubs.”

The all-party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals wanted to find out whether enough was being done to encourage fans to get involved in the way the clubs are run.

Their findings strike a chord with fans who’ve been locked in bitter rows with club owners over decisions which they say have not been in the best interests of their team.

Just look at some of the stories to hit the headlines over the last couple of months. Hull City fans are trying to stop their club’s owner Assem Allam changing its name to Hull Tigers. Coventry City supporters have a 70 mile round-trip to Northampton for home games, because of a rent dispute over the Ricoh Arena.

And at Leeds United, fans have battled for years to get greater transparency over who owns the club.

The Parliamentary group has called on the Government to make it easier for supporters to buy a stake in their club.

The MPs and peers also want new laws to protect football assets, such as club colours, a club’s name and ground ownership.

Supporters Direct, the organisation set up to promote fan involvement in the game, back the Parliamentary Group’s call.

Kevin Rye, from Supporters Direct, says: "Are we disappointed at the slow pace of reform? Of course we are. Are we going to give up arguing that simple rules should be adopted to ensure that football clubs are owned by people who are going to run them properly, not bankrupt them, change them beyond recognition or move them? Of course we’re not."

"The case for reform is made by just what’s happened in the last year at Cardiff City, Hull City, Coventry City, Leeds United, Hereford United. It’s now about what it looks like and when it happens."

Sunday 16 February, 5 live Investigates hears from the MPs, fans and the football authorities.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by andylanglais

    on 17 Feb 2014 05:36

    Maybe not as grand as the two previous posts, but the plight of Clapton Football Club is in East London would be a relatively easy one to resolve, should the FA have the inclination to exercise governance at 'step 5'. With just nine members, all of whom are either patsies or family of the purported owner, Mr McBean, there are calls for the club to return to a one member one vote. See www.friendsofclaptonfc.info
    Clapton FC? Unrivaled amateur history, international players and the first club to play in Europe. Some history, but it's the future that matters.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Jack Griffin

    on 16 Feb 2014 10:33

    I agree with the conclusions of this report and hope MPs will act, they have let matters drift on for far too long and the simple enjoyment of the game the fans used to have has been punctuated by outbursts of suffering and in some cases despair by the powerless fans of clubs badly treated by the actions of owners that are not fans of the club and the weak and ineffective governance of the game by the FL, the FA and the PL. I should know I'm a Coventry fan, but let us not forget events at Hull, Cardiff, Hearts, Portsmouth and other clubs in recent years.

    Without legislation and strong governance this state of affairs is sure to continue and that will be to the detriment of the game. Reform now please!

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Patricia

    on 14 Feb 2014 21:55

    Can we include Newcastle United please? We've had our share of bitter rows and decisions which have not been in the best interests of our team and we have an owner who uses the club as a vehicle for advertising his main business - ambition and investment have been thrown to the wind. We do have a Supporters Trust but their involvement with the club fans forum was fleeting - now banned by the owner for reasons yet to be confirmed/decided.
    I'm fully behind Supporters Direct, MPs and Peers and I support the clubs already mentioned. Sometimes I feel the football of old is lost forever to those who don't see the game as a sport but simply as a lucrative business. It seems easier at times to give up and give in but I don't want that. I do feel a multi-pronged approach is needed and we should start rattling the cages of the FA and PL. It's all very well for them sit back in their comfy offices, counting their riches but they have an obligation to us fans and the game of football. They need to get off their lofty perches and get a grip on the reality of the current game.
    Back in May 2009 the PL unveiled new 'fit and proper persons' rules, these new controls were based on Uefa's licensing system, some of which mean clubs could be banned from transfers, forced to sell players, or forced to sell assets if they failed a 'going concern' audit. Other additions include 'honesty' and 'football' offences - I do feel the 'honesty' bit has been compromised of late.

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