When the Trust was first formed in 2003, we were assisted by a government funded body called ‘Supporters Direct’. They exist to aid and support over 100 Trusts across England, Wales and Scotland. They have recently been approved for funding to carry on for at least another three years.
Supporters Direct is an initiative backed by the Scottish Executive, funded by public money, and based at Robert Owen House in Glasgow.
Their aim is to help people “who wish to play a responsible part in the life of the football club they support” and we offer support, advice and information to groups of football supporters.
Supporters Direct exists to:
• Promote and support the concept of democratic supporter ownership and representation through mutual, not-for-profit structures
•Promote football clubs as civic and community institutions
* Work to preserve the competitive values of league football in the United Kingdom and promoting the health of the game as a whole
Their headline achievements are:
* Over 100 Supporters’ Trusts across England, Wales and Scotland
* 59 Supporters’ Trusts hold equity within their football clubs
* 38 Football clubs have supporter representation within the boards of their FC
* Supporter ownership at 2 English Football League clubs
* Supporters’ ownership at 6 UK non-league clubs, including the reformed Clydebank
* Supporters’ Trust involvement in saving a club at 13 clubs
* Supporters’ Trusts have brought around £10M of investment into the game on the basis of 750K over 3 years to support the work of Supporters Direct – over a 5-fold increase on that initial funding.
* Over 75,000 people have joined democratic not-for-profit organisations dedicated to fostering enhanced relationships between clubs and their communities and providing direct experience of the importance of citizen activism and democratic involvement in the delivery of key local services.
Supporters Direct has been in intense liaison with the Trusts at York City, Lincoln City, Chesterfield, Exeter City, Notts County, Bury to name but a few. In all these instances, the club has to-date survived the process of administration and in all of them, the Supporters’ Trust has been a crucial feature of that survival. In some, they have provided significant funds towards the reconstruction of the business. In others, they have mobilised the supporters and the local community and generated interest in the club that has convinced local businesses and individuals to come forward.
Without their efforts, there would not now be 92 professional clubs in England and Wales.It’s been said that if one club were to be liquidated, it would start a domino effect – a major reason why this has not yet happened is through the efforts of many Supporters’ Trusts advised by Supporters Direct.
To qualify for the assistance of Supporters Direct, supporters groups must be:-
• Democratic in their structures and in the way they run their affairs;
• Open to all fans to join, at an affordable cost; and
• Broadly representative of supporters.
• Viable and sustainable as a group, and pursuing viable and sustainable objectives.
Supporters Direct publish a regular magazine, in which we have featured a couple of times. Past issues are available on their website.
If you wish to find out more about Supporters Direct, log on to their website @ www.supporters-direct.org where you can download the latest and past SD newsletters.