Birmingham City has invited representatives of supporters groups to a meeting in April. The invitation said that they would be happy to discuss off field matters such as ticketing, catering and safety. Understandably they will not be answering questions about what happens on the pitch or in Hong Kong. I have no complaints about them limiting the scope of the meeting; the Birmingham based club staff may be as much in the dark about the owners as we fans are. However, I do believe that there needs to be some way that fans can get answers to their questions about the ownership of their club. And I agree with those who say that since football has failed to regulate itself, it is time for the government to step in.
Supporters Direct is one of the groups calling for reform. On March 3rd it announced the launch of its manifesto to reform football in England and Wales. I would imagine that most Blues fans would agree with one thing the manifesto calls for: a tighter and more effective Owners and Directors Test, which the Football Association should be empowered to police adequately. The Football Action Network (F.A.N.) is also saying that it is time to legislate and pass a football reform bill. There’s an article about their manifesto in Saturday’s Guardian.
Will politicians listen to fans? Members of the Scottish Parliament have and there has been cross party support for a Green amendment to expand the right-to-buy principle in the Community Empowerment Bill to include football supporters wanting to buy their clubs. If passed at stage three in the chamber, the legislation would give supporters trusts ‘first refusal’ when a club comes up for sale. The Green MSP said, “We asked fans what they wanted, and they asked us for the tools to do the job and run their clubs responsibly for the long term.”
In the run-up to the election there will be lots of candidates assuring us that they want to represent us. Let’s tell them we want football reform.