It has been a strange couple of months without football, but while you might think that without football matches things had been quiet for us here at the FSA, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve continued to provide our services and advice to fans, groups and clubs in a whole range of different ways.
During the COVID-19 season suspension we’ve continued our major role of dialogue with the game’s authorities and putting the views of supporters to those in charge, as well as continuing to help our member fan groups behind the scenes with their own day-to-day queries and questions, however there’s plenty of innovative work going on, too.
Through our Fans for Diversity campaign, we’re able to fund groups doing excellent work in their local communities, such as the Bangla Bantams who are delivering food to the vulnerable and those in need in Bradford. If you’re interested in doing some work around diversity and helping those who need it, get in touch with the campaign lead Anwar Uddin.
Support for non-league
We’ve also been advising scores of community-owned football clubs, providing them with updates on how to navigate the tricky weeks and months without football.
Our experts have been ensuring they have comprehensive details on the latest government schemes, as well putting them in touch with our legal partners for the latest on commercial and contractual matters, making sure that these communities still have clubs to come back to when football returns.
Thankfully the vast majority of them have reported to us that they are in a financially secure enough position to last several without matchday income, showing the value and strength of sustainable community ownership – and we’ll continue to help and support them throughout the shutdown.
Members of FSA staff have also been appearing on podcasts and video streams – this panel discussion by the Football Collective featured our own Nicola Cave and Richard Irving, discussing the impact of COVID-19 and talking about the future of football and fan engagement with some leading academics.
Also in the online world, through our Fans for Diversity work we helped to coordinate a 32-team Fifa 20 tournament among our member groups. Little Britain star Matt Lucas even got involved to give his best wishes, and it helped to stave off some of the boredom that lockdown brings, bringing together fans from different teams and backgrounds.
Support for fan groups
It’s not all glamour, though, as there’s serious work to be done. We’ve been supporting fangroups who are running in to their own problems in the world of social distancing – providing advice for trusts and supporters clubs on how to run AGMs and what they need to do to ensure they continue to operate democratically and serve the interests of their members.
With everyone having a bit more down time, we’ve helped advise and set up a slew of surveys for fangroups who are keen to get their members’ views on everything from COVID-19 shutdown in the women’s game to VAR. If you’re from a supporter group who’d like some advice on how to gather the opinions of your members, or your club’s wider fanbase, get in touch.
We’ve also continued to help set-up new fangroups, such as the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters’ Trust, as well as welcoming more fangroups into FSA membership, such as the Liverpool Women Supporters Club.
They join the more than 300 supporter organisations and tens of thousands of individual members of the FSA, strengthening the fans’ collective voice within the game.
We will continue to work in the best interests of football fans, in hopefully ever more creative ways, however long the strangeness of the current situation persists. If you’d like to join us, then membership is free and you can sign-up here.