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A statement on OWNAFC and Hednesford Town

This is a story from the Supporters Direct archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

If you are seeking a document regarding training or development of your supporters’ organisation, please visit the live training and resource section of our website. if you need further assistance email: [email protected]

Hednesford Town, the 139-year-old Staffordshire club, were recently put up for sale by their owner and reports over the weekend indicate that the OWNAFC platform are moving towards a takeover.

We firmly believe any prospective owner of a football club should meaningfully engage with the stakeholders at that club, chief among whom are the supporters, for any takeover to have legitimacy and ultimately to be sustainable and successful.

Consultation, the option for critical questioning and the development of structured supporter engagement is a vital ingredient to success at any club, particularly one operating within the National Game.

Since 1999 Supporters Direct has;

– helped over 50 clubs at varying levels of the game into fan ownership, including AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City, Wycombe Wanderers and Newport County AFC, and helped fans to form more than 200 Supporters Trusts.

– helped countless Trusts secure a meaningful stake in their club by way of shareholding and/or board representation using a structure allowing the Trust to regularly re-elect representatives to these roles.

– supported the development of structured dialogue between fans and their clubs and fans and their leagues, as a result of their involvement in the Expert Working Group on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement, the minimum requirements of which now form part of the EFL and Premier League rule books.

– educated, empowered and given the vehicle to supporters to make a real difference, evidenced no better than with the recent developments at Blackpool FC.

Supporters Trusts are open, inclusive, non-profit organisations which operate as one member one vote for the benefit of the supporters and the community served by the club and as such are not fundraising machines or “cash cows” to plug club financial shortfalls.

Despite their doubtless enthusiasm, we are concerned that the lack of meaningful engagement with the club’s existing supporters and a business model similar to that of MYFC means that a repeat of the ultimately failed takeover of Ebbsfleet United back in 2008 is likely.

We have been working closely with the Supporters Association at Hednesford Town to explore alternative ownership options for the club following the announcement of the owner’s willingness to sell, and we will continue to offer Hednesford Town’s fans our support.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball