The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals has called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the way that football club owners behave towards supporter groups.
In a report that is critical of the attitudes the Football Association, Premier League and Football League exhibit towards the ownership of clubs, MPs have called for them to be directed to protect the interests of supporters.
The Group found that:
- Contrary to the view of the football authorities, the type of ownership of football clubs makes a difference to how they behave and mutual ownership stakes by football supporters are a positive feature.
- The football authorities should immediately drop their mistaken neutrality to club ownership and actively encourage supporter ownership.
- Supporters Direct should receive stable and predictable funding from the proceeds of football instead of suffering damaging delays
- Certain football assets with a value to the community should be protected by law, including club colours, club name and home ground ownership.
- As a result of the lack of action from the football authorities, Government should now legislate for the changes it wishes to see in the ownership and Governance of the Football industry. A draft Bill should be prepared urgently.
This report follows a year after a comprehensive investigation into the Governance of football clubs, undertaken by the Culture and Media Select Committee. It reflects the frustration felt by many at the inaction of the football authorities in addressing the key recommendations of that Select Committee report.
Group Chairman Jonathan Evans MP said,
“We are all aware that following the Select Committee report the Government was looking to the football authorities for some action within a period of about 12 months.
Yet we encountered a complacent attitude to supporter ownership from the Football Association, Premier League and Football League, which each insist on maintaining their ‘neutrality’ on issues of ownership, regardless of the evidence.
This cannot be allowed to continue. Supporters are the life-blood of the game and yet we see their interests second place to even the most transient of club owners.
Action must now be taken and a draft Bill should be prepared urgently to take forward the measures promised by the DCMS in 2013. Each of the political parties should also prepare detailed plans for their election manifestos, aimed at addressing the inherent weaknesses in this dysfunctional system once and for all.”
The All-Party Group for Mutuals is a reconstituted All-Party Group that had its origins in the original All-Party Group for Building Societies and Financial Mutuals. It has been widened now to include all mutual interests.
Evidence was taken in select committee style in the Hearing. Witnesses were drawn from the football authorities, and those with expertise in fan ownership. All oral evidence was recorded verbatim. A list of witnesses is recorded in the report. This report was produced solely in the interest of contributing positively to the debate.