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Burnham fan power at football clubs

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

The new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham wants a review of the ‘fit-and-proper persons’ test applied by the FA, Premier League and Football League.

An Everton fan and Labour MP for Leigh, Burnham says he wants to see supporters represented on the boards of all professional football clubs as soon as possible.

“I’m pleased that they introduced their ‘fit-and-proper persons’ test, but they need to review how it’s worked in practice. I want to satisfy myself that it’s adequate and doing the job it’s meant to do – and this is an issue that I’ll want to talk to the FA about,’ said the former Chairman of Supporters Direct.

“It’s not possible to get protectionist rules around issues of ownership. But what is possible is having a stringent and real requirement around owners. Their financial background, respect for the traditions of English football and record at any other club should be closely scrutinised.”

Burnham’s belief fans should be given seats on the board is unlikely to impress the new breed of club owners he is so concerned.

But he says that, in an ideal world, supporters rather than companies or rich individuals would own every club – as they do at one of Europe’s biggest clubs Barcelona.

“People will think that’s pie in the sky – but the Barcelona model, to me, is how a football club should be run”, Burnham said.

“Barcelona are one of the most pre-eminent institutions in world football, yet the club is owned by its supporters on a one-member, one-vote basis and it is they who control it.

“And that strengthens it because it’s never subject to the whim of one person; it’s a collective endeavour. English football should see that as a big strength. I’d love to see if we could grow the Barcelona model here.”

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