A BETTER DEAL FOR FOOTBALL FANS

Thursday, 25 November 2021 | In Focus

Bees United has tried to summarise the 'Fan-Led Review' report to answer questions which Brentford supporters may have.  
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Who wrote the report?

Tracey Crouch MP is a former Minister of Sport and a Spurs supporter, thus the ‘Fan-Led review”. She had a panel of experts working with her and together they heard 100 hours of evidence and conducted an online survey of views which received over 20,000 responses. 

What role, if any, did Brentford have?

The report includes a list of contributors and in alphabetical order they are : Bees United (Brentford Supporters Trust),Cliff Crown (Chairman of Brentford),Gemma Teale (BIAS),Matthew Benham (Brentford owner) and Trevor Inns.Specifically Bees United, through its Chairman Stewart Purvis, explained to Tracey Crouch the role of the ’Golden Share’  which BU owns in Brentford FC. This gives BU the right to veto the sale of the stadium unless a new ground is available which meets certain criteria. The Crouch review team had access to the legal agreements drawn up between BU and BFC during the purchase of the club by Matthew Benham.

What did Tracey Crouch recommend? 

The BBC has summarised 10 points:

  • The government should create a new independent regulator (IREF)
  • IREF should oversee financial regulation in football
  • IREF should establish new owners’ and directors’ tests
  • A new corporate governance code should be set up
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion plans should be mandatory for all clubs
  • Supporters should be consulted on all key off-field decisions through a ‘shadow board’
  • Key items of club heritage should be protected by a ‘golden share’ for fans
  • There should be more support from the Premier League to the pyramid through a solidarity transfer levy, paid by Premier League clubs on buying players from overseas or other top-flight clubs
  • Women’s football should be treated equally and given its own review
  • Stakeholders should work to increase protection of welfare of players leaving the game

Is Brentford mentioned in the report?

There are 5 mentions of the word Brentford in the main text: 

  • the ‘excellent’ community work done by the club
  • a un-named fan told the online survey of the importance of the Golden Share.
  • the remaining three are in a section explaining how the Brentford Golden Share works, recommending it as a model and building on it.

A typical paragraph is:

Some progressive clubs already provide for a Golden Share, most notably Brentford FC whose successful model provided certain veto rights over a stadium move. This ultimately did not prevent the club from moving stadium, but ensured that fans were supportive of the move. This is a good case study demonstrating that Golden Share rights can operate in a positive manner to the benefit of all concerned.

What else could a golden share cover?

Tracey Crouch lists:

  • sale of club stadium (including the grant of security over a club stadium)
  • re-location of club outside of the local area (excluding temporary relocation as part of an actual (i.e. not just planned or hoped for) development of an existing stadium e.g. Tottenham’s relocation to Wembley)
  • the club joining a new competition that is not affiliated to FIFA, UEFA and the FA and/or leaving a competition in which it currently plays. This would mean that a future European Super League would not be possible without fan consent
  • club badge
  • first team home shirt club colours
  • club name (i.e the team playing name rather than the name of the legal entity owning the club

What is a ‘shadow  board’ which was mentioned earlier?

Tracey Crouch wants supporters to be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions using a Shadow Board. This is an alternative to the Brentford model of having a club director elected by the board of the Supporters Trust (Bees United). The Shadow Board would not have a veto but would be consulted on important off-the-field decisions. It would not discuss  ‘football matters’. The Chair would be appointed from among its members on an ‘seasonal basis’ and there would be reserved seats for ‘key supporter groups including representatives of the body holding the Golden Share, equality, diversity and inclusion representatives, youth supporters and international supporters (if relevant)’.

What happens next?

The report was welcomed by all the political parties which bodes well for the passage of the necessary legislation through parliament. The Government announced that it agreed ‘in principle’ with the establishment of the independent regulator. Tracey Crouch has since told a zoom event for supporter groups ,which Bees United took part in, that although a lot of work had still to be done she hoped that the new system would be in place for the 2023 season.

What has Brentford said about the report?

The Club have not issued a statement but on behalf of all their members the Premier League welcomed the report’s publication. However they added that ‘It is important to everyone that any reforms do not damage our game, its competitive balance or the levels of current investment’. BIAS said the review ‘offers a great opportunity to overhaul the power structures of the domestic game – giving fans a voice at the heart of football’. Bees United said it ‘welcomes the fan-led review report by Tracey Crouch especially her recommendation for a ‘golden share’ for fans along the lines of the successful Brentford FC model’. The Chairman,Stewart Purvis, praised his predecessors and those others who had drawn up the original agreement with the club and BU’s legal expert at the time, Stuart Hatcher, tweeted that he was ‘delighted (and a little proud having had my own hand in creating and drafting the Golden Share with Bees United) to see it mentioned so positively in the Fan-Led Review by Tracey Crouch’.

 

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