Fans Not Numbers - The Midlands
A new campaign aiming to regulate the way football clubs are owned and run will be holding a roadshow in Coventry next week - one of five around the country.
Fans from all walks of life and shirt colours are invited to their events to learn more about the campaign and what they are hoping to change in the game, and the roadshow will build on previous events that have taken place in Blackpool, Manchester and Darlington.
The Blackpool event from press saw a turnout of supporters from Blackpool, Morecambe and Blackburn Rovers join football pundit Trevor Sinclair and fellow former ex Blackpool players Derek Spence and Eamonn O'Keefe for a two hour debate at the Blackpool Hilton which focused on trying to outline solutions that would more effectively regulate clubs and the way they are run.
Even a Bristol City fan turned up apparently and that makes sense as the issue is bigger than the colour of your shirt.
The debate panel also included campaign leader Jaimie Fuller, Christine Seddon from the Blackpool Supporters' Trust, James Mathie from Supporters Direct and Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative Group of Blackpool Council.
With Blackpool being the first roadshow, Coventry will be the fourth in a series of five to be held around the country and when feedback has been taken from all the events, a full reform document will be delivered to the Government outlining the concerns and solutions formulated.
The #FansNotNumbers campaign is a joint initiative between Supporters Direct, sportswear company SKINS (Fuller is chairman) and social media platford SPORF and the ideas suggested so far do include the formation of an independent regulatory body that would be empowered to enforce annual compliance tests on clubs and owners.
Fuller has form as a sports governance campaigner as he's used his company's international platform previously to mount successful governance challenges at FIFA, the ICO and world cycling body UCI.
The Coventry event is being held in conjunction with SKINS, the Sky Blue Trust and Supporters Direct and it's being held on Wednesday September 13 with doors opening at The Arena Suite, Coventry RFC, Butts Park Arena, Coventry, CV1 3GE, at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
The opening statement on their release for the Coventry event includes the line:
'For too long, football fans have been relegated to the bench or worse, exploited. Some owners forget that we are fans, not fools - the lifeblood of any club and the heart of any community. When clubs fail, towns and cities do too, socially and economically. We've seen it before. We never want to see it again.'
A sentiment many fans will no doubt share for any number of reasons.
Entry to the event is FREE but for organisational reasons fans planning to attend are asked to register their interest by Clicking Here
The release from the group explains:
'SD and SKINs believe it is time for football to have an independent regulatory body. One that can not only set but, crucially, can enforce off-pitch regulation. This is not something new. In 2012 the Football Association Regulatory Authority (FARA) was announced, heralded as a new regulatory body set up to improve football governance. Yet, for reasons never explained, the F.A. has never implemented this initiative, and we stumble on. The inconsistent governing body rulebooks need to be comprehensively reviewed and updated to address the challenges facing the modern game. We also need club licensing system, administered by the new regulatory body that operates proactively with the power to sanction clubs who are non-compliant.'
'This will mean no more clubs are rendered homeless, promoted despite breaching rules or reliant on funding from unnamed entities. Energy should be spent on building, not destroying supporter and community relations. The new regulatory body needs to be adequately resourced, something that could be easily achieved with a small % levy on commercial rights income generated by the leagues. This campaign is not about putting the boot in to the F.A. or any of the leagues. It`s about accepting that we have a problem and proposing a meaningful, comprehensive solution. Many of our recommendations aren`t new or different to what other countries deploy. In fact, there are only five countries in UEFA that do not have a formal regulatory body in place with the requisite powers to manage the way leagues and clubs operate. England is one of those five - along with Andorra and Montenegro. But without a helping hand from Government, it`s hard to see these suggestions being implemented.'
The abbreviated report on the recommendations for regulatory reform can be read by Clicking Here.