A national conference is to be held (12-13 June 2010) to allow football fans from across the country to offer their views on the Government’s commitment to giving supporters a greater say in the running of their clubs.
The conference is being organised on the back of a growing political consensus about the potential for football fans to buy out their clubs by setting up co-operatives, similar to those that already own and run clubs like FC Barcelona and Hamburg SV. Both the Conservative Party and Labour Party pledged to support this form of community ownership in their manifestos.
Hosted by Supporters Direct, which represents more than 160 supporters’ trusts in the UK, Saturday is themed A Better Vision for Football and will give football fans the chance find out more about the proposals under consideration. It will also allow fans to speak directly with politicians, club chairmen, bloggers and writers, as well as representatives of football clubs already owned by supporters’ trusts.
In addition, the keynote speaker on Saturday will be made by the award winning film director Ken Loach, responsible for the modern cult classic Looking for Eric, also responsible for a recent documentary about the response of football fans to their sense of alienation from the game. Co-operatives UK chief executive Ed Mayo will be addressing delegates on Sunday.
Dave Boyle, chief executive of Supporters Direct, said: “We know all about the problems faced by fans and clubs, but now its time for a big push to bring some solutions. This conference is a rally for change in football – change in the way fans influence their clubs and change in the way the game is regulated. ”
He added: “In the last season, the efforts of a fans at Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle built on the work done up and down the country by supporters trusts, and as a result politicians of all parties said they were concerned about the issues of fan involvement. The process of turning that concern into action starts now, and this conference is the first step.”
Oliver Houston, deputy chief executive of MUST, who will be speaking at the conference, said: “Regardless of the level of football, clubs are in financial turmoil and fans are being bypassed in decisions that have a life-or-death effect on their clubs. The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, like all supporters trusts, offers us all a way of making sure that we can be heard, and ultimately determine the future of our clubs.”
Starting on the day of England’s opening World Cup match against the USA (12 June 2010, K.O. 8.30pm), the match will be shown live on a big screen.