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FSA meets new sports minister

An FSA delegation featuring fan reps from Blackpool and Charlton Athletic today met with the new sports minister Stuart Andrew (above left). He confirmed the Government would press ahead with reform by releasing its White Paper on football governance in the autumn. FSA vice chair Tom Greatrex was there and explains more…

While we briefly touched on the upcoming World Cup and safe standing, the main focus of the meeting was the Fan-led Review of Football Governance with the minister keen to hear why it was so important.

Both Christine Seddon (Blackpool Supporters’ Trust) and Heather Alderson (Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust) did a great job of illustrating the real world experiences of their clubs – malevolent ownership and the frustrations in securing action from the football authorities, who were effectively regulating themselves.

We explained why it was not appropriate to leave football clubs to mark their own homework and evidenced the shortcomings of the current set up. This includes the apparent reluctance of the Premier League to address these issues, with many of their contributions seemingly designed to hold off more substantial change being forced upon them. 

Clubs have a significance to many people in communities, not just matchgoers. They are cultural institutions and deserve protection in line with that importance. There is a need for oversight and protection. We explained the genesis of the Fan-led Review, and made clear the level of support there was for the recommendations – including backing from a large number of professional clubs who can see that the current situation is unsustainable. 

We pointed out that the work had largely been done by the Fan-led Review’s excellent report, which was welcomed very warmly by all (except those representing the vested interests it sought to challenge).

Of course, recent media coverage caused supporters some concern that having gotten this far, the Government might miss the opportunity to safeguard football’s future. This is a concern for the FSA too as we are fully committed to the full implementation of the Fan-led Review of Football Governance.

The minister confirmed that the next stage was the promised White Paper, which he saw as being one of his immediate priorities over the autumn. We committed to continuing to work with his officials on the details of that in the weeks ahead.

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