Government tells football to listen to supporters

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The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has today published its response to the select committee report into football governance. The inquiry, which began in February, heard from a wide range of witnesses from the world of football and published its findings on 29th July 2011.

The government’s response to the select committee’s report sets out a number of recommendations for football. These include looking at the creation of a modern, accountable and representative FA Board, the implementation of a licensing framework administered by the FA in close cooperation with the professional game, and changes to the decision-making structures within the FA.

The football authorities will now have to work together in order to agree and publish a joint response by 29th February 2012 on how they plan to work towards these recommendations. If they fail to do so the government will seek to implement them via legislation in Parliament.

A nod was also made in the direction of the Football Supporters’ Federation and other fans’ groups as the government welcomed the select committee’s attention on supporter involvement. DCMS would like to see football authorities encourage clubs to have open dialogue with supporters’ groups and trusts about how their club is run and for fans to be placed at the heart of the club.

The report states: "Every club should have a dedicated and mandatory supporter liaison officer... [and] every club should officially recognise the relevant supporters groups or trusts and keep an open dialogue with them. They should hold official and regular annual general meetings at which these groups are invited to take part and at which appropriate financial and other information can be shared and consulted upon."

The government makes clear its belief that these conditions should be an explicit part of the football licensing model recommended by the select committee. Compliance would therefore be mandatory should a club wish to compete in the professional game in England.

The government response was welcomed by FSF chair Malcolm Clarke: “We’re pleased that the government has accepted most of the reports recommendations. We believe these can build upon a lot of the very good work the FA is doing while simultaneously addressing the major governance concerns that still remain at many professional clubs.”

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: “This country is hugely passionate about our national game and there are many reasons we should be pleased with how it has progressed over the last two decades. However, I believe that there are improvements that can be made in the governance arrangements, which have failed to keep up with the changing pace of the modern game. I do not want Government to run football, so this is an opportunity for the football family to work together to benefit the game in the long-term.”

In a joint statement the FA, Football League, and Premier League, said: "The football authorities are grateful to both the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the time taken and interest shown in the governance arrangements for football. We shall now take time to consider the Department's response as we formulate what the most appropriate actions might be.

"The FA, the Premier League, The Football League and representatives of the National Game are already engaged in this process and are committed to keeping the Minister and his Department informed of our progress."

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