Supporters Summit will reunite fans at Wembley to debate co-operative ownership in sport

Fans from across the UK will meet at Wembley Stadium in London to discuss the future of fan ownership. High profile figures from football, sport, media and politics...

Fans from across the UK will meet at Wembley Stadium in London to discuss the future of fan ownership. High profile figures from football, sport, media and politics will also be present at the event, which takes place on 26 July.

The Annual Supporters Summit is hosted by Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation. Fans who took part in the event last year discussed a series of issue related to governance, ownership, transparency, ticket pricing, discrimination and safe standing.

The summit is aimed at supporter organisations or fans wishing to set up supporter trusts, as well as football executives, governing bodies and sports services providers. Over 500,000 people are members of supporter trusts in the UK, while over 100 supporters’ trusts now have shareholding in their club.

Mark Bullock, commercial manager of Supporters Direct, says it is important that supporters and supporter groups can come together with the collective aim of improving the game.

“The Supporters Summit doesn’t just deal with the issues at supporters’ trust or club level,” he said. “We all want a game that is better run, as well as clubs that are more reflective of their communities and the people who sustain them.

“The Summit brings together likeminded supporters and stakeholders to debate the issues that really matter to them, allowing groups to share best practice and learn from each other. The summit is unique because it is the only event that brings together so many supporters from so many different fans organisations, not just in the UK but across Europe as well.”

The conference will open with an introductory discussion themed “Fixing Football” followed by a series of workshops on the importance of away fans, protecting club identity, the role of supporters liaison officers and the club licensing system.

The main session of the day will feature a panel from football and the media who will look at how fans are portrayed in the media, as well as the relationship between traditional media and supporter blogs and websites.

“Our main session is a guided discussion on the state of the game, and the road we, as supporters, and activists, want to go down,” said Mr Bullock. “We know the way football is run isn’t working and the figures don’t stack up: there have been well over 100 financial collapses in just 22 years. We know that by looking at the facts on the ground: there are owners making poor decisions that are rarely challenged – whether it’s Cardiff City going from blue to red, Hull going from City to Tigers or Coventry about to start their second season in Northampton.”

In a second session of workshops, supporters will also touch upon fighting homophobia, racism and sexism in sport, financial fair play, supporter trusts and advisory groups.

Keynote speakers at the event include Chris Cooper of City Till WeDdie; Mark Harris, chair of Witton Albion FC and Evo-Stick Northern Premier League; Valerio Casagrande, chief financial officer of Lega Serie B; Brian Mertens, board member of Cardif City Supporters Trust; Clive Efford, MP for Eltham and Shadow Minister for Sport since 2011; and Pat Lyons, board member of Foras & Cork City FC.

The summit will close with a question and answer session, which will be an in-depth discussion with some of The Blizzard magazine’s top writers regarding various issues of concern for fans. The session will be chaired by Dave Farrar, who commentates on the English Premier League overseas and on European football for ESPN, with contributions from panellists James Horncastle, European football writer, Rory Smith, football writer for The Times and James Montague, contributor to the New York Times and World Soccer.

Prior to the Summit, Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation will also be holding their annual general meetings on 25 July. Delegates wishing to attend need to register online.

For more information about opportunities to get involved as a delegate, supporter group or sponsor, contact Mark Bullock or Victoria Goodfellow on [email protected] or 0207 273 1592.


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