The Independent Football Ombudsman’s Annual Report 2012-13 is out now and can be downloaded from this link. The document is a summary of the IFO’s activities, investigations, adjudications and recommendations from last season.
In June 2013 the Football Supporters’ Federation met with the IFO, along with our fellow fans’ groups Kick It Out, Level Playing Field and Supporters Direct.
Various topics were covered including stewarding, Wembley, fan bans, communications, discrimination and disability issues - see pages 20-21 in the report for more.
The IFO said almost all complaints identified delays in response times as clubs consistently fail to meet their own club charter objectives.
Another issue high on the FSF’s agenda was safe standing and the IFO acknowledged that football needs to take its head out of the sand when it comes to standing at football.
The IFO said: “Complaints relating to standing and the clear evidence in our stadiums and on our TV screens of large sections of standing supporters demonstrate that, in effect, the ground regulations relating to standing have become unenforceable.
“The IFO therefore recommends that the football authorities discuss with the SGSA and the DCMS how to address the widespread concerns over persistent standing in seated areas.”
As fans know, the solution to that is choice. Allow safe standing areas into the Premier League and Championship and those fans who prefer to stand can do so in safety while those who, quite legitimately, prefer to sit, can do so without having their views blocked.
This wasn’t the FSF’s only contact throughout the year and many individual cases the FSF deals with are referred to the IFO by the fans involved.
An example of that last season was a young Huddersfield Town fan helped through the complaints process after he was wrongly ejected at Birmingham City. The club refused to listen to his pleas but the IFO adjudicated in his favour.
What is the IFO?
The IFO was established by the Football Association, Premier League and Football League, with the agreement of the Government, and began operation from the 2008-09 season.
The position is held by Professor Derek Fraser and he says there has been a significant increase in the number of fans contacting him. During the past year more than 1,200 fans contacted his office, the highest number in its five year history.
The IFO has a remit to adjudicate on complaints which have not been resolved at an earlier stage. It is the final stage in football’s complaints procedure.
How to complain:
- Your complaint should be brought to the attention of the club in writing. You can do this via email so it needn’t cost you anything and every league club should have a dedicated Supporter Liaison Officer to speak with. Clubs should also have a “Customer Charter” detailing their procedures and any timescales. Copy the FSF into this (email@example.com).
- If your initial complaint is ignored or you don’t reach a satisfactory conclusion you need to contact the appropriate governing body (such as the Premier League, Football League, or the FA if it relates to an England game or the FA Cup).
- If you don’t receive a satisfactory outcome, speak to the IFO on 0800 588 4066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.