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Spurs announce fan representation model – but serious questions remain

Tottenham Hotspur’s newly-announced plans for fan representation on the club’s board have been criticised by a leading fan group – with questions remaining about the new model.

Yesterday the north London club, who were one of the six English clubs that had planned to participate in a breakaway European Super League, announced plans to create a “club advisory panel” made up of fan representatives.

The chair of this panel, the club said, would be appointed annually as a non-executive member of the Tottenham Hotspur board.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, who recently called for the resignation of the club’s board over their involvement in the breakaway, called on the club’s hierarchy to come to the table to discuss their plans in detail and submit their plans to robust consultation.

“The dogged stance of the trust and the wider supporter base has forced the club to concede the principle that fans must be represented at board level,” THST said today.

“But announcing this without consultation on detail is not a promising start.

“And the measures set out in the club’s statement do not give fan representatives any real power.”

Other fan groups and supporter trust from across the Premier League showed their support for THST on social media, arguing that independent, democratically structured groups should not be marginalised by clubs.

In their announcement, the club expressed unhappiness with the supporters’ trust call for resignations at the club – however, the FSA has been liaising between the two sides to help both parties re-establish dialogue.

“It is vital the club advisory panel has the support of the fans, including the trust, if it is to be a credible vehicle for fan representation,” THST said.

FSA mediation

As the national representative body for football fans and leading proponent of supporter engagement, the FSA will continue to work towards creating dialogue between Tottenham Hotspur and Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust.

“Any club seeking to add supporter representation to its board is moving in the right direction although it must be more than tokenism, with the new director involved in all aspects of board business,” said FSA vice-chair Tom Greatrex.

“It’s something that countless clubs across the pyramid have demonstrated provides long-term benefits to both club and supporters.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the club regarding the structure of both the panel and the role of the director.”

In their statement, Tottenham Hotspur said they welcome the Government’s upcoming fan-led review of football and that they will ensure their new model will be “truly representative of our supporter base.”

However, guidelines set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) on fan engagement which were adopted into the Premier League and EFL rulebooks state supporter trusts have to be included.

Under Premier League rules senior club officials are required to meet supporters or supporter representatives at least twice a season – those attending the meetings must be chosen in line with democratic principles. DCMS guidelines say that supporter trusts should be automatically included.

“When clubs are implementing reforms to their engagement it’s important to include supporter representatives from day one,” Tom said.

“They have to get it right and that’s why we’ll be continuing to support our members at Spurs as well as offering mediation between the club and supporter organisations.”

Fan representation and the fan-led review: What the FSA thinks

The FSA and our members will play a central role in the recently announced fan-led review and fight to ensure that real changes are made. It is the fan-led review and its prospect of serious consultation that will lead to lasting change, not clubs deciding matters on their own.

We are updating our comprehensive 2018 governance paper Improving The Regulation of Professional Football Clubs to account for recent events. The basic principles will align with the core beliefs of our Sustain The Game! campaign – to increase club protection, transparency, financial controls, pyramid strength and supporter engagement.

The FSA would also encourage individual fans and supporters’ groups to contact their local MP and ask if they back the core principles of Early Day Motion 1765? Not all MPs sign EDMs but if they support its thrust ask them to contact secretary of state Oliver Dowden to let him know.

You can see MP contacts, ideas and template copy for any emails or letters here.

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