“Trust Chairman gets backing from local MP”

                              “Trust Chairman gets backing from local MP                                   for new Football Club Licensing Scheme”

Of the 92 football clubs in the top four divisions 52 have at some stage become insolvent, including Posh. On many occasions clubs have been separated from their grounds, often unceremoniously and secretly for the value of the land, including Posh.

If Supporter’s Direct, the parent organisation of supporters trusts gets its way then these statistics will change dramatically for the better.

The Culture Media and Sport Select Committee of Parliament has recently recommended the adoption of a new football licensing system and the Government has said it accepts this recommendation.  

The Supporters Direct outline proposals include a limit on the amount of debt that a football club could hold and a limit to a club’s expenditure, closely related to what it earns. Any benefactors would face restrictions on their loans so that they could not suddenly withdraw their funding in a way which sends the club into insolvency. Committed long term owners should not be significantly affected.

For “Fit and Proper” trusts there would be rights for them to have information on the club finances, be asked for approval for the sale of the ground and for any club relocation. In addition these trusts would have a right to nominate a supporter director to the board and have pre-emption rights on any sale of shares in the club. This is being called “regulation from below” and would effectively give the fans and wider community some protection from unscrupulous owners and directors.

Trust chairman Barry Bennett met with North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara, (in whose constituency the Posh ground is) to ask him to support the proposals.  He said that he was very happy to do so and would attend a meeting on 1st February in Parliament when Supporters Direct presented their proposal to MPs.

Showing a real mood swing in the direction of these changes, no less than 49 MPs including Mr Vara put their names down to attend the meeting. Former chairman Peter Lloyd attended on behalf of the Trust and talked at length with Mr Vara who was again very supportive. In fact he said that he had already lobbied the key decision maker Hugh Robertson MP, the sports minister.

This presentation to MP’s on 1st February was very well timed, as the full Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee’s report on Football Governance is scheduled for a Westminster Hall Debate on Thursday 9th February.

We now wait to see what proposals the FA comes up with after it analyses and discusses the Select Committee Report. Hopefully any reform is not hijacked by the Premier League which may have its own reasons for not wishing to see any constraints on the behaviour of the owners of clubs. At least parliament is well aware of the need for some changes to secure the long term future of established and much loved football clubs. 

Peter Lloyd

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