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Fan-led Review: “Diversity must be central to reform”

Yesterday the Government’s Fan-led Review of football governance was told by representatives from the Fans for Diversity campaign about the need to embed ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ (EDI) into future reforms of the game.

The chair, Tracey Crouch MP, and the rest of the panel heard from a number of supporters from the Fans for Diversity Network about the big issues they face and how future reforms could make football more representative.

Speaking on behalf of the Fans for Diversity Network were:

  • Chris Paouros – Proud Lilywhites & FSA board member
  • Micky Singh – Blues 4 All
  • Nigel Davidson – Carlisle United Official Supporters’ Club
  • Humayun Islam – Bangla Bantams
  • Jamie Dappa – Arsenal fan
  • Paul Kirton – TeamGrassRoots
  • Nilesh Chauhun – Villans Together
  • Sachin Patel – Maidenhead Spurs & FSA board member
  • Anielka Pieniazek – Fulham for all
  • Shin Aujla – Apna Albion
  • Anwar Uddin – Fans for Diversity campaign manager
  • Harpreet Robertson – FSA

“There’s a perception of what or who a football fan is, but football is changing and moving,” Chris Paouros said.

“We know that football isn’t reflective of society or even the communities it serves so we wanted to talk to the review about how an independent regulator can help change that.”

Representatives told the panel about how robust EDI practices should be put in place across clubs and governing bodies – with fans at the heart of that work.

Reporting processes were also an important point of discussion for the network representatives as was the under-representation of ethnically diverse communities, women and LGBT+ figures across the game’s leadership.

Sachin Patel told the panel that measures to address under-representation should be mandatory, not voluntary as they often are now.

“I dislike the word ‘voluntary’ when discussing codes and practices,” he said. “Treating each other with respect and kindness should never be voluntary but mandatory.” 

The panel heard from fans that future reforms to football’s governance must improve diversity and representation across all levels of the game.

Fans for Diversity campaign manager Anwar Uddin said: “I felt a sense of pride bringing the Fans for Diversity network to this session, a group of fans who are doing sterling work at their clubs and in their communities working towards positive change.

“These fans and many others are leading the way in regards to inclusion. They do this alongside their jobs and other responsibilities which goes to show with passion, support and direction a lot can be achieved.”

This was the latest Fan-led Review session where supporter representatives were able to relay their experiences directly to the Fan-led Review panel ahead of the chair’s interim report which is due to be published next month. The final report is due in October.

“Football is about belonging,” Chris said. “Everyone the panel heard from today belongs in football too.

“We need the governance of football to support this.”

How does the Fan-led Review work?

The FSA’s member supporter organisations have lead dozens of evidence-gathering sessions throughout May and June. More are due to follow in the coming weeks at which the advisory panel will listen to their experiences and proposals for improving football governance. An interim report will be made available in July 2021, with the final report published in October 2021. It will cover clubs who compete in the English pyramid system.

The advisory panel will offer specialist advice to the chair of the fan-led review (Tracey Crouch MP) but it will not write the report. In past reviews the involvement of the football authorities gave them a veto on proposals – this review is not structured in that manner. The chair alone will write the report.

  • The panel features the FSA’s chief executive Kevin Miles – see all members here.
  • You can see the panel’s full Terms of Reference here.

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