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Mike Davis' report on the fan-led review of football governance

20 December 2022

Shrewsbury Town Supporter Liaison Officer Mike Davis recently represented the club at a meeting about the fan-led review (FLR) of football governance. He wrote this summary of the meeting.

Many of you will have heard recently in the news that the government and wider football authorities are discussing a fan-led review on football. But why is it important to Shrewsbury Town and why should fans care about the outcome?

I have been representing the club throughout the process including at parliament and at meetings with the EFL, FA, Premier League and FSA.

Hre is an explanation of the review and why this is such an important crossroads for the beautiful game.

What is the fan-led review?

The FLR came about after three major incidents in the game at which point, the government felt football in this country needed to be protected. These incidents were the folding of Bury FC, a club that had survived many economic up and downs over the years but ultimately were destroyed by ownership and mismanagement whilst fans looked on, unable to help or save their beloved club. The second was the covid-19 pandemic which has led to a huge hole in football finances and put many clubs on the edge of a financial cliff. The third was the unsuccessful attempt by major clubs to join a European Super League, which would have potentially destroyed the football pyramid in this country.

It was at this point the government stepped in and decided fans needed to have a say about their clubs and governance needed to be discussed around financing, safeguarding and the long-term viability of the game from grassroots upwards.

Why is it so important to Shrewsbury Town FC?

Two reasons really. Firstly, as a club financially we are incredibly well run and many clubs look at us as a role model on how lower league clubs should be financed. But even in our strong position, the pandemic loss of trade and ongoing cost rises means our finances are being eroded. At the same time, financing in football generally in this country is good and the FLR looks at how money can be more fairly distributed across the pyramid to safeguard all clubs and ensure we don’t have another club collapse on the cards.

Secondly, the FLR will look to safeguard club heritage, whether this is the club's colours, name or badge, the fans will hopefully hold an overall say on how their clubs are run.

Does this mean fans will have more say?

The FLR doesn’t intend to stop owners running their clubs as they see fit. What it does is put a line of protection in should things go wrong, it will allow an independent body to oversee how football is run and if needed, to step in at a national level.

What about the FA, EFL and Premier League?

Again the running of football won’t change, these bodies will still have overall control of their brands and competitions, the independent regulator will be there should they need to step in and act and we hope will have firm powers to act if they need to.

What about shadow boards for fans?

Shadow boards are something being discussed in terms of giving fans more consultation with their clubs. At Town, we have the Supporters Parliament which takes on its role, but we will see what's expected when things are formalised and discussed with the fanbase going forward if changes are needed

Do clubs have concerns over fan involvement?

I really think it depends on the club. There are many who have none or very little discussion with their fans - we saw this during the European Super league plan when fans were the last to know. This can't be allowed to happen and if owners have their club's best interests at heart, supporters will be involved anyway.

Do the clubs support the review?

From discussions with other clubs and owners, the FLR has overwhelming support from clubs, fans and the government.

Is it all about money?

Absolutely not. The financial distribution is important as clubs need money to run just like any business, but the review encompasses so much more, especially when it comes to safeguarding clubs' heritage and long-term standing in their community. Football is no longer just every Saturday, our foundation run facilities for our town every day and without the club, the town and community as a whole would significantly suffer.

The FLR is a long-term plan of how to safeguard the national game for generations to come.

Would we look at a fan-elected member of the board?

This isn’t specifically being discussed. Some clubs are looking at it but this isn’t something we have discussed with the club and will wait for guidelines to see what any potential regulator will want.

If anyone has any further questions please feel free to drop me an email slo@shrewsburytown.co.uk

I'll keep everyone updated as the process progresses and we get more formal guidance on what's needed at our club going forward.

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