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Party manifestos and football

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The major political parties this week (16th April) released their manifestos, so we thought it’d be interesting to look at what promises have been made to football fans. You can also check this link for further updates following the manifesto releases.

The FSF is non-party political – fans have varying political views – but we welcome any proposals which strengthen the voice of supporters. Fans should have a voice in the boardroom and be involved in reform of the game, whether that relates to ticket prices, ownership, diversity, or safe standing. Supporters are the lifeblood of the game.

While almost all of the parties make commitments to increasing participation in sport, we’ve only highlighted examples which relate specifically to football, although you can follow the manifesto links for further information. In alphabetical order…

Conservative Party manifesto:

  • FACILITIES: “We will improve the quality of Community Sports facilities, working with local authorities, the Football Association and the Premier League to fund investment in artificial football pitches in more than 30 cities across England.”
  • DIVERSITY: There’s also a commitment to lifting the number of women on national sports governing bodies to at least 25 per cent by 2017, which could have implications for football’s authorities.

Green Party manifesto:

  • OWNERSHIP: “Grant employees the legal right in certain circumstances to buy out their companies (funded by the Green Investment Bank) and turn them into workers’ cooperatives; or, for example, grant the right to turn sporting clubs, in particular football clubs, into community and supporter cooperatives by giving powers for season ticket holders backed by the local community to take over the running of a club.”

Labour Party manifesto:

  • ENGAGEMENT/OWNERSHIP: “Football clubs are an important part of many people’s identity and sense of belonging. They are more than just businesses. But despite their importance in the lives of their members and supporters, too often there are no effective means for fans to have a say in how their clubs are run. Labour will provide the means for supporters to be a genuine part of their clubs. We will introduce legislation to enable accredited supporters trusts to appoint and remove at least two of the directors of a football club and to purchase shares when the club changes hands.”
  • GRASSROOTS: “We will ensure the Premier League delivers on its promise to invest five per cent of its domestic and international television rights income into funding the grassroots.”

Liberal Democrats manifesto

  • SAFE STANDING: “Require the Sports Ground Safety Authority to prepare guidance under which domestic football clubs, working with their supporters, may introduce safe standing areas.”
  • LAWS: “Enhance the experience of all football fans by making homophobic chanting a criminal offence, like racist chanting.”
  • GOVERNANCE: “Give football fans a greater say in how their clubs are run by encouraging the reform of football governance rules to promote engagement between clubs and supporters.”

Plaid Cymru manifesto:

  • No specific reference to football although, as with many of the other parties, there is a general commitment to increasing participation in sport.

Scottish National Party:

  • As of Friday 17th April (10am), the SNP’s manifesto has not been released. While the FSF only covers England and Wales – those north of the border should seek out Scottish Fans – the SNP’s manifesto is still of interest as in the event of a Coalition Government, their policies could have an influence throughout the United Kingdom.

Ukip manifesto:

  • DCMS: “Ukip will abolish the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.”

Further updates:

The Guardian reports (Thursday 23rd April):  “Labour has vowed to legislate within the first 100 days of a new government to ‘change the way football is run’, installing fan representatives in boardrooms and giving supporters the opportunity to buy shares if their club changes hands. The pledge to take immediate action to legislate on the policies, previously announced in the party’s manifesto, is designed to underline its commitment to making practical changes to give fans a greater voice as soon as it gets into power.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “We welcome any ideas which aim to strengthen the voice of football fans – these proposals fit that bill and come with a suitably ambitious timetable.

“It’s good to see ticket prices referenced, as well as issues of identity such as the importance of a club’s name or colour of their strip. Clubs must engage properly with their fan base and secure support if they wish to make such fundamental changes. Owners cannot ride roughshod over tradition.

“Should Labour win the election, we look forward to seeing further details and working on them with our affiliated fans’ groups and partner organisations such as Supporters Direct, to achieve the best result for fans.”

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