It is clear that there is something rotten in the state of British football. The way to fix it however is somewhat less certain.
At the 2013 Supporters Summit jointly hosted by Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation in June, Rt. Hon. Andy Burnham – Labour MP for Leigh – called for government action to rein in the power of the elite in which he described as ruining the game of football by killing competitiveness. Burnham suggested that football, like the media, should have its ‘Leveson moment’, and that it needed a body with the regulatory powers to take on the vested interests of football clubs countrywide.
In a recent article in WSC, Rob Bradley said that lobbying governments is a waste of time and that it’s unlikely that politicians will actually pass any legislation to help matters. Instead, he suggested that Supporters’ Trusts could form partnerships with members of the business community that would ultimately benefit their clubs.
There is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution for the problems that face football clubs. So, although Supporters’ Trusts have a set of shared beliefs, not all operate in the same way. Some Trusts work in opposition to the owners of their clubs; others act as a supporting arm.
How much longer will the current Hong Kong regime continue to own Birmingham City Football Club? How long’s a piece of string? Should new owners materialise that are willing to engage with Birmingham City supporters, there is much that Blues Trust could do to help encourage business sponsorship. Birmingham City’s large fan base includes business leaders and professionals from all walks of life who could potentially support the club and help it get back onto a firm financial footing. However, the Trust should remain independent. After all, it doesn’t want to become the club’s new fundraising department.
And it would seek to gain influence in return for its support. As an example, the Trust may ask to be consulted on the appointment of a Supporter Liaison Officer or for a seat on the BCFC Board. It is mutually beneficial to have owners that a supporter’s organisation can work with, as well as being that all important critical friend.
Article Contributor(s): Margaret Decker