Fans join forces for Supporters Summit

croppedimage613299 wembley supporters summit6

More than 300 fans came together on Saturday (26th July) for the Supporters Summit at Wembley, jointly organised by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct. 

We’d like to thank each and every fan who came and created a real positive feel to the whole day. This was many fans’ first experience of the FSF and SD and we hope you keep that involvement up – hopefully we will see many of you at our  “Affordable Football For All” protest on Thursday 14th August (London).

But back to the Supporters Summit - alongside debates on “fixing football” and the FA Commission, there were also sessions on Away Fans Matter, club identity, SLOs, club licensing, diversity, financial fair play, trusts and Safety Advisory Groups.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, there’ll be more information on those sessions and the campaign ideas that came out of them. If you’d like to get involved in any of that, email info@fsf.org.uk.

Both organisations held their AGMs on Friday 25th July, and we'd like to congratulate those people who were elected to the FSF national council. The full list for 2014/15 is: Vince Alm, Gareth Barker, Raj Chandarana, Peter Daykin, Rick Duniec, Laura Fleck, Leviathen Hendricks, Tim Hillyer, Jon Keen, Dave Kelly, Richard Knights, Simon Magner, Ken Malley, Fiona McGee, Tony Roome, Ian Todd, Dave Tomlinson and Roisin Wood.

The Supporters Summit also made a bit of a media splash as Greg Dyke’s video address to the conference was covered by the BBC, Express, Independent, and Guardian among others. You can see the full video below.

“If you look at who's supporting, who's playing, and then you look at the FA Council, it doesn't represent them. It's still overwhelmingly male, overwhelmingly white in a world that isn't overwhelmingly male and white, and somehow that has to be changed,” said Dyke.

“We have to try and change it but we're not alone, supporters have got to try and change it as well. We've got to look at how we involve the population of 21st century England and the mix it's got. If we just carry on like this - old, white males - we're going to be increasingly irrelevant.”

Reinvention

Dyke’s challenge for the FA Council to reinvent itself and better represent those who play and follow the game has to be welcomed. There’s no doubt the current set-up needs reinventing to reflect the modern game.

The top media line was “old, white male” angle – and it is true to say that demographic is overrepresented on the FA Council, but that doesn’t mean some of those people aren’t doing good work. Many of them are from a FA County background and have grassroots football in their hearts.

What it does mean is that the institutionalised structure of the FA Council is such that it isn’t delivering a broad range of voices. Fans want to see a body with far more space for fan reps, people they relate to, who share their ideals and experiences.

The FA Council has 100+ members yet only one of those – the FSF’s Malcolm Clarke – sits as a fans’ representative (for the FSF and SD). The professional game could not function without paying supporters, yet we have less than 1% representation there.

Bizarrely, the Oxbridge universities have twice as many representatives on the FA Council as fans. Other organisations that have the same quota of reps as fans include the Air Force, Army, and Navy.

Dyke is right to say this isn’t “proper representation” and we welcome ideas which attempt to fix that.

The FA Chairman also defend his controversial England Commission and said that something must be done to increase the talent pool in English football. “You wait for four years time if we don't do something about it,” said Dyke.

Dyke acknowledged opposition to some of his plans - including the controversial League 3 proposal - and challenged opponents to come up with alternative ideas which can tackle England's lack of young talent.

Fanzine Stand AMF said those present provided “100 ideas more conducive to protecting the football pyramid and competition that we all hold dear in this country”. Make no mistake, League 3 is still a very hot topic for fans and any attempts to resuscitate it will be opposed.

Dyke also said he was “aware” of ticket prices - more than could be said for many previous FA Chairmen - and cited the FA Board's decision to throw out FA Cup price rises. He also praised the huge number England fans who had travelled to Brazil.