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FST to attend Parliamentary Adjournment Debate

6th September 2010

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On Wednesday 8th. September, 2010, two members of the Trust’s committee will attend a Parliamentary Adjournment Debate in Westminster Hall, the oldest existing part of the Palace of Westminster, titled the ‘Role of football supporters in the governance of professional football clubs’. FST member, Tom Greatrex MP will be in attendance with the intention of participating in the debate.

Dave Boyle, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, writes: “The debate has been requested by Steve Rotheram MP, a Liverpool season ticket holder and member of both Share Liverpool and Spirit of Shankly, the two groups who SD has helped unite to start the process of becoming the supporters’ trust at Liverpool FC. We know Steve will be joined in speaking in that debate by other MPs who have personal involvement in trusts either in their constituencies, or through helping trusts at the clubs they personally support.

The debate will be in Westminster Hall, which is a relatively new innovation in Parliament. It’s like an overspill area from the House of Commons where backbench MPs can instigate debates on issues which are often on more specialised and less ‘knockabout’ than the party-political issues that come up for consideration in the main House of Commons chamber. There’s no proposal to be voted on, nor any concrete action proposed, but crucially, after backbenchers have spoken, the main opposition spokesperson gives the view of their party, and then the relevant Minister replies on behalf of the Government.

You’ll hopefully be aware that following the commitment made by the parties in the election, the coalition government is committed to “encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative”. We know Ministers aren’t proposing to seriously look at this issue just yet, but when they do, we want them to be aware of the strength of feeling of the issue across the country. This is where you can help us all, and also help your trust.

Westminster Hall debates often attract a small number of MPs – sometimes you can count them on one hand. We think if Ministers saw a much bigger attendance than they would be expecting, it will send a powerful message that football governance and ownership is an issue that people want Government to take seriously. That will help counter the long-standing obstacle that when push comes to shove, Governments of all parties have taken the view that however much noise there is about football, it’s a passing fad that isn’t worth the time, energy and effort to really take seriously.

Better still, lots of MPs wanting to speak to talk about how their local Trust is a great example of local community action , about how the club would benefit from the trust being involved in the ownership and governance of the club, would give great credibility to the trust movement as a whole. Critically, as Westminster hall debates are a matter of public record with the proceedings recorded in Hansard. It’s a great opportunity for a win-win – the Trust gets the boost from being cited approvingly by the local MP and the local MP gets something they can let the local paper know they have spoken about in Parliament.”

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