Saturday, 21 October 2006 19:33

UEFA back Supporters' Trust Movement

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UEFA back Supporters' Trust Movement

UEFA is backing the launch of a project to study the feasibility of a European Supporters Direct body - which would, among other things, give supporters the opportunity to play a role in improving the financial stability and governance of their clubs.

London announcement

The project was announced in London on Friday during a speech to the UK Supporters Direct annual conference by UEFA's director of communications and public affairs William Gaillard. United Kingdom sports minister Richard Caborn also spoke at the conference.

Possible expansion

The process will study the possibility of taking the supporters direct model used in the UK, where supporters' trusts own a growing number of clubs, with a view to assessing to what

extent this model could be expanded across Europe, as well as studying the different alternative models that exist around Europe.

Review recommendations

"One of the main recommendations to the European football authorities of the JosĮթ Luis Arnaut Independent European Sport Review - initiated by the UK presidency of the European Union in 2005 - was to examine the feasibility of a European Supporters Direct body," said Gaillard. "I am pleased to announce today the start of that process. If the results are conclusive we will soon be dealing with a European Supporters Direct body that would represent fans' views from right across Europe.

People's game

"Football fans are a key stakeholder group in football and it is important that we have a representative partner at European level with whom we can have positive discourse," he

continued. "I am therefore very optimistic that the outcome of the study will be successful. Football is the people's game and at UEFA we want to keep it that way."

Strength to strength

Caborn added: "I am delighted that Supporters Direct is going from strength to strength. The decision to expand it across Europe is a vote of confidence in the Supporters Direct movement and good news for football fans in Europe. I am also pleased that the first recommendation from the Independent European Sport Review, which I initiated earlier this year, has been implemented. Supporters Direct has made a real difference to the way sports clubs, particularly football, are run in the UK and I know its work will have a positive and far-reaching effect in Europe."

European contact

Supporters Direct has assisted in setting up over 140 supporters' trusts in England, Wales and Scotland, and has already been contacted by fans from clubs in a number of European

countries. "This is excellent news for the trust movement," said the chief executive of Supporters Direct, Phil French. "This funding will enable us to start building on the success and growth of the 140 supporters' trusts in the UK and looking at ways of expanding our work across Europe.

Stability and governance

"We are extremely grateful to UEFA for having the vision to back this initiative, which will enable supporters to play a responsible part in improving the financial stability and governance of their clubs," he went on.

Supporter involvement

The initiative is one way of enhancing good governance in football and the purpose of expanding such supporters groups is to involve responsible fans in democratic organisations, based on securing a financial stake and democratic representation within a club. The project is likely to take up to a year to complete and will be funded by UEFA, with project staff based out of the offices of Supporters Direct in London. The result will be a report outlining the feasibility of extending the model across Europe.

Click to read the Independent European Sport Review.