Cardiff and Wrexham fans on seeking influence on clubs

Swansea City fan Swansea City are 20% owned by supporters

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Welsh football fans are joining a lobby of Parliament as part of a campaign aimed at giving supporters more influence over their clubs.

MPs will listen to the concerns of fans who want changes to the way the teams they support are run.

The supporters say football clubs are community assets and should not just be treated as businesses.

Fan involvement in Wales is significant with Swansea City 20% supporter-owned and Wrexham completely owned by fans.

Championship side Cardiff City are privately owned, led by Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan, but a number of Bluebirds supporters would like more say in how the club is run.

Start Quote

What Supporters Direct and the trust movement is about is greater fans' engagement and involvement in the running of football in this country”

End Quote Tim Hartley Supporters Direct and Cardiff City Supporters' Trust

Marc Jones, who is on the board of Wrexham Supporters' Trust, said: "We were lurching from crisis to crisis prior to the Wrexham Supporters' Trust taking ownership.

"I think what we have got now is stability off the pitch - we can actually concentrate on the pitch for a change which is incredibly positive."

Tim Hartley, who is chair of Cardiff City Supporters' Trust and on the board of Supporters Direct which has organised the lobby of Parliament, said fans can help clubs play a positive role in their communities.

"What Supporters Direct and the trust movement is about is greater fans' engagement and involvement in the running of football in this country," he said.

"We think football is not like any other business, and football clubs are community assets [and] can't be bartered here, there and everywhere.

"They are stronger and give more to society and the community if they are influenced by supporters, who are the people who actually make them run."

Supporters Direct works with more than 180 supporters' trusts in Wales, England and Scotland, and is active in over 20 European countries across a number of sports.

Lobby objectives

  • The Football Association needs to include a rule as part of the new football club licensing arrangements that guarantees a structured relationship between supporters and clubs
  • The UK government needs to establish an expert group before the beginning of next season to explore methods of removing barriers to increased collective supporter share ownership in their football clubs

Many Cardiff City fans questioned the actions of the club's owners when the team's main colours were changed from blue to red and a dragon was introduced to the badge.

"It's a small example of where supporters should have been engaged with, should have been consulted with before any major changes were made," said Mr Hartley.

He added the trust had a good relationship with the club and he wanted to focus on the future.

"What we need is a structured involvement with supporters' groups like supporters' trusts because if you leave it up to the goodwill of individual clubs... then it's going to be willy nilly.

"So we're saying if the football authorities won't act, what we're hoping from this lobby of parliament today is the government will act."

He said greater fan involvement would include things like more meetings, joint projects and financial clarity.

He also praised Premier League Swansea City, where the supporters' trust is the third largest shareholder in the club.

'Crisis to crisis'

Last October, the Swans announced a £14.6m profit during their first Premier League season in 2011/12.

Many supporters of Premier League clubs have complained recently about the high cost of admission to matches.

There were protests recently at Arsenal where visiting Manchester City fans were unhappy at the £62 cost of entry.

Lower down the leagues, several clubs are now wholly owned by supporters, including Conference side Wrexham, which was sold to supporters in September 2011 after years of financial uncertainty.

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