The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) and Supporters' Direct yesterday supported the Select Committees call for a clearer and more representative FA and if necessary Government legislation.
Albeit we recognise and acknowledge the work of the FA executive the wider bodies of the FA are both unrepresentative and anachronistic. The ongoing fault line between the professional game and the national game is not conducive to producing a fit and proper governing body and independent regulator of the game, something needed more than ever.
In March this year in anticipation of an FA Governance review SD and the FSF prepared a detailed set of 20 recommendations to refresh the FA structure so that it is more representative and to enable better strategic decisions for the long term future of the game to be made. Amongst those 20 recommendations we proposed:
- The number of independent directors on the Board should be increased
- The removal of the funding formula and golden shares to enable decisions to be taken in the best interests as the game as a whole
- The use of the F.A. membership as a vehicle for a suitable robust licensing scheme for clubs helping reinstate the F.A. as the independent regulator of football
- A thorough review of which organisations are represented on the Council, with clear criteria taking into account the way the game has changed. Representatives should be active, senior in position and accountable to who they are representing
In January 2016 we have seen the Government Expert Working Group (EWG) on football supporter ownership and engagement containing a commitment to ensure improved and more effective representation for supporters within FA structures which we are waiting to see implemented. This on the back of numerous football reports and reviews suggesting change including the reports into football governance in 2011 and 2013.
2016 also brought a new sports governance code from the Government asking for higher standards from sports bodies like the FA that receive significant public money,
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF and sole supporters representative on the 123 person F.A. Council said: "A more independent FA Board is required to safeguard the game’s future, and we believe supporters have a huge role to play in that. Fans are free from vested financial interests, and have nothing but the game’s health at heart – but supporters are not represented at the game’s highest levels and that must change."
Ashley Brown chief exec of SD said: "There are people working hard within the FA to modernise but others who continue to resist this reform. If it requires Government intervention to remove those intent on blocking then SD would encourage that."
Both SD and the FSF remain committed to work with both the Government and the FA on issues of football governance, to ensure meaningful reform. Changes at the F.A. are just one issue regarding proper representation in football, and we will continue to work towards more meaningful supporter involvement at both club level and the national game. Football requires critical friends and our organisations are well placed to fulfil that role.