Supporters Direct (SD) will pay the salary of its longest-serving employee, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. The organisation initially stopped payment to Jacqui Forster, who had been working there for 13 years, after her statutory sick pay allowance expired in September.
SD – which helps fans to set up democratic co-operatives (known as supporters’ trusts) to gain influence in the running and ownership of their clubs – made the u-turn after defending its reluctance to pay out earlier by saying it was forced to “do more with less” financially. Ms Forster has now received her back pay from June to December 2016.
A Justice4Jac campaign was set up by former SD directors and trust members, which urged the business to continue to pay Ms Forster, and a Just Giving page raised almost £2,000 in two months from nearly 50 supporters. Ms Forster intends to use the monies raised to set up a legacy campaign to encourage more women to attend sporting events.
While welcoming the turnabout, the Justice4Jac group has called on those who voted to stop the pay to resign.
“Supporters Direct should never just rely on legislation in how it deals with urgent matters. Instead, the organisation should be helping Jacqui as she deals with a dreadful situation,” said a statement.
“We raise this because we want everyone in football who knows Jacqui Forster to show her their support and equally make their own judgment about her employer who, in our view, has let her down disgracefully.”
SD chair Brian Burgess said at the time: “We note that former SD board members have publicly aired concerns about recent board decisions relating to a member of SD staff.
“We hope, however, that members will understand that we seek to act at all times in the best interests of all SD members, all SD staff, and the entire supporters trust movement.”
Robert Pepper, who is involved in the Justice4Jac campaign, has resigned as the SD reciprocal member of the Football Supporters Federation National Council because of the initial decision to stop Ms Forster’s salary.
Editor’s note: The original introduction to this article said: “Supporters Direct (SD) has stated it will pay the salary” of Jacqui Forster. Supporters Direct has asked us to point out that it did not reveal this information to us since it does not make any public statements regarding confidential employee matters.