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FSA proposals to protect clubs backed by FA

On Friday 18th October, FSA vice chair Tom Greatrex spoke at the FA, alongside FSA chair Malcolm Clarke, and put forward our proposals which seek to protect our historic clubs from the wrecking ball antics we’ve seen by some owners. We’re delighted to say the FA Council passed our resolution unopposed and we look forward to working with the FA and other football stakeholders in the months ahead. Read on for extended highlights from Tom’s speech…

It’s clear that the issues supporters are concerned about are shared across the football family. While Bury is in the most parlous state, the situation at a series of other clubs too justifies this level of concern.

Bury were the epitome of a community-run club, with a long and proud history in the Football League and former winners of the FA Cup. They put that town on the map.

But they have effectively been held to ransom by a short-term owner who not only had no care or affinity with the club and community – but who even toured TV studios as their fate was beaing sealed, boasting that he didn’t know Bury had a football club before he bought it.

This is a massive wake up call on what can happen – and what has happened.

We have developed over the past couple of years proposals and suggestions for reform that start from a position of prevention. Some of the bad cases we’ve seen – Blackpool, Coventry, Bolton – could have been prevented.

Our regulations would reward clubs which are well run, help clubs where problems are identified with expertise and practical support, and prevent asset stripping.

They are thorough and researched but not a blueprint. They are a contribution to what the solution should look like and we hope the EFL review will look at them and meet us to discuss this further.

This is important because nobody involved wants to be in this situation again. Not the EFL, other clubs, players, staff, fans, community. Nobody wants to see this happen again. All of us have an interest in getting this right.

Everyone in this room is here because they are part of the best sport in the world, have given time to it, love it, cherish it, and protect it. Most importantly we know this organisation has unrivalled knowledge and expertise at its disposal.

Make no mistake that what happened at Bury could happen at other clubs and this reflects on the game more widely. It reflects on the good owners, those who understand and appreciate their club and community.

It reflects on the FA who people look to as the guardian of the game, people that have the interests of all levels of the game at heart. It reflects on the integrity of the game.

While leagues run their competitions at the heart of this is the argument that the FA cannot and should not be a bystander. The FA has to be part of the solution – a leading voice helping to create a better path for the future.

We have seen in the town of Bury a sense of loss, supporters and the communicty having something special taken away. And that gap in so many lives, in the identity of a town and a community is still there, and the hurt is there, the anger is there.

‘Owners have been reluctant to agree to limits on running clubs but the need to protect our precious community clubs overrides this. The clubs futures must be protected. How many Burys are we willing to tolerate before we summon the will to act?’

Not my words, but the words of the chairman [the FA’s Greg Clarke] a few short weeks ago – and he is absolutely right. We need to fix it.

For the good of the players, staff and other clubs in the league.

For the good of the repute of the many good and committed owners who put time, money and effort into nurturing their clubs.

For the good of community, fans and supporters.

And for the good of the integrity of our game – the game we all came here today to protect and enhance.

There should not be another Bury – the small sliver of a silver lining from that massive, enduring black cloud is the opportunity to make this an unrepeatable event.

We need the FA to be part of that – let’s take this opportunity now and do everything we can to be part of the solution.

FSA resolution to the FA Council:

Council notes with regret and alarm the demise of one of our long-established community clubs and former FA Cup winner, Bury FC, and the threat to the continued survival of several other clubs. It believes that these failures indicate that the current financial and governance regulatory framework in the professional and semi-professional game needs strengthening. It further believes that the FA, as the governing body of the game, has a leadership and integral role to play in ensuring that such a strengthening occurs, in conjunction with the leagues in which those clubs play. It notes the Football Supporters’ Association’s proposals for reform in this area presented to the FA Board, and requests the executive, in consultation with all stakeholders, including the Taylor review to be undertaken by the EFL, to take the lead in ensuring, as a matter of high priority, progress on the production of firm proposals for such regulatory reform.

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