Fans have say on club engagement

Northampton Town Celebrations Photo Alex Donohue2

Supporter groups up and down the country have been asked about their thoughts on how clubs are dealing with new guidelines on fan engagement. 

Since 2016, clubs have been required to meet with their supporters to discuss club matters under guidelines recommended by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This "structured dialogue" is now in the English Football League (EFL) rulebook.

Now research carried out by the Football Supporters' Federation and Supporters Direct shows that most clubs are engaging with their supporters and fielding appropriate club officials (such as owners, directors or senior executives).

Our survey had 75 responses from supporter organisations across the 92 clubs. Supporters told us that 92% of clubs know about structured dialogue, 85% of clubs meet with supporters at least twice a year and 86% provide senior officials for the meetings.

However, the survey did reveal some issues - almost half of supporters asked (48%) said their club misunderstand structured dialogue or didn't act on its outcomes.

Additionally, more than a third (34%) told us that strategic issues can't be adequately discussed at these meetings - 33% felt that not enough information was provided to supporters and 18% said the meetings were the wrong size for constructive discussions.

Clubs that have supporter representatives at board level fared better than average - 85% said their club understands and acts upon the structured dialogue commitment. While 100% said they felt that the meetings were carried out with the right senior representatives.

On pitch fortunes appears to have no bearing on how fans think their club is engaging with them – with no significant difference in feedback from supporters of relegated teams, promoted teams or those finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

The FSF and Supporters Direct will continue to work with supporter groups, clubs and the football authorities to ensure the structured dialogue recommendations are adhered to and improved upon.

Thanks to Alex Donohue for the image used in this story. Reproduced here under Creative Commons license.