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Re-instatement of Funding for Supporters Direct

27th July 2011

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Last month we stated our concern for the future of Supporters Direct (SD), following the withdrawal of funding intended for it by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), administrators of the Premier League Fans’ Fund. Reaction from fans, journalists and politicians was immediate and critical. In mid-June, MP and Trust member, Tom Greatrex tabled an Early Day Motion (no. 1909) in support of the restoration of funding to SD, which received cross-party support and 81 signatures.

Later that month, new acting Chief Executive of SD, Brian Burgess, met with the FSIF; discussions were positive, a line was drawn under the comments made by the previous Chief Executive, and it was indicated that a new application for funding was likely to be welcomed. At the SD AGM on 15th. July, it was announced that the FSIF had agreed to an initial grant of £268,000 to fund SD. The Fans’ Fund panel will meet again in August to discuss the outstanding additional grant applications from SD. 

Tom Greatrex MP said: “Common sense has finally prevailed with this decision – it has been a very unsettling few weeks for the people involved in Supporters Direct – and particularly for the staff of the organisation who work very hard to support and advise Trusts up and down the country.

Supporters Direct work to help give fans a strong voice in the decisions which affect their clubs. To have cut their funding, seemingly as a reaction to offensive tweets from a former Chief Executive, was a crass over-reaction and sent out a signal that the views of ordinary fans didn’t matter to the Premier League.

I congratulate Brian Burgess, the interim Chief Executive of Supporters Direct and the Chair of Supporters Direct Dame Pauline Green on the progress they have made, and the support they have received from the Co-operative Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson.

There are still some questions to be answered about longer-term funding, which I hope the Premier League will resolve as soon as possible. There also remains some uncertainty in relation to the ongoing support provided to Supporters Direct in Scotland.

MPs across the political divide have been united in our view that it is vital that Supporters Direct is secure in its long-term funding, but remains an independent and respected voice for supporters’ interests in football. Too many of us, either through our own experience with Trusts, or as supporters of Trusts in our constituencies have experience of what happens when fans are left to pick up the pieces of clubs neglected by previous owners. That is why Labour and Co-operative MPs have been at the forefront of the Parliamentary campaign to promote mutuality in football.

What was very clear from the weekend’s conference is that the Supporters Trust movement is in great heart, and Trusts in numerous clubs are making decisions and running clubs for the good of their communities and the supporters’ interests. That the immediate threat has been removed from Supporters Direct allows the organisation to get on with the vital work they do in promoting and supporting Trusts help make the national game our national game.”

Cathy Jamieson MP, who seconded Tom’s Early Day Motion, said: “There will be huge relief for fans up and down the country at this news, I am pleased that this has finally been resolved. The work of Supporters Direct is key to ensuring the fans of football clubs have a strong voice in the way their clubs are run and I am glad this will continue.

It is a testament to all those across the co-op movement that this has been resolved and the Trust is moving on. I am excited that Supporters Trust can be secure in their future and focus entirely promoting the interests of fans. It is a great example of how Co-op MPs in Parliament can have a voice on behalf of the movement and I look forward to supporting the work of the Trust.”

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