Government launches Fan Ownership Group

Coventry City 6

The Government and football authorities say they will work together to find ways in which fans can have more influence in running their clubs; the long-term aim being to stop the shenanigans we've seen at Cardiff City, Coventry City (above), Hull City, Hereford United and so on. It follows hot-on-the-heels of Labour's newly-announced plans. FSF National Council member Tim Hillyer was at Tuesday's launch, he explains more...

The event quickly developed into a photo shoot and press day for the Minister and the prospective Parliamentary Tory candidate for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond, whether or not this was the intention.

Portsmouth FC laid on a friendly welcome, starting at the Pompey in the Community centre which is most impressive. Our host was Clare Martin, Head of Community Projects.

Ashley Brown, who heads Pompey Supporters Trust, greeted the delegation and there was a class of Year Five youngsters putting together photo boards of their time at Fratton Park in a well equipped computer suite.

The visitors then were escorted to Fratton Park stadium where in the Boardroom we were introduced to the Chairman of PFC, Iain McInnes and in the home dressing room the First Team Manager, Andy Awford.

Along the way the Chair of the Expert Group, Joanna Manning-Cooper, introduced herself to me (the panel's proper title is the Supporter Ownership and Engagement Expert Group). It was only then that I realised who she is, such was the lack of formalities.

Before taking on her current role as Director of Communications and Marketing with the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Joanna was Head of PR and Media at LOCOG, the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

She was interested in my role as a volunteer as a Gamesmaker and is keen to develop volunteering in football. She is a member of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust.

Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, joined the conversation, agreeing that rugby and non-league football have a strong reliance on their unpaid staff, but that this ethos had disappeared from professional football.

Joanna was somewhat starstruck, being a Pompey fan and never having been in the home dressing room or behind the scenes to such a degree. She is definitely a true supporter, reminiscing about her visit to Plough Lane when Noel Blake scored an own goal past Alan Knight.

The Minister was guided by her DCMS minders to give soundbites for local radio and interviews to the papers. Sky Sports News plus another cameraman were present.

The morning finished with the introduction of a group of Pompey supporters of various ages and backgrounds. The memorial to the Pompey Pals was a centrepiece as well as plaques commemorating the rescue of the club by the fans from mismanagement and incompetent ownership.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don't necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn't be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.