An expert group put together by the Government to consider the relationship between football clubs and fans has today published its recommendations and agreed actions – as members of this panel, the Football League and the FA Premier League are committed to delivering these actions through their constituent clubs.
The recommendations include valuable commitments in relation to supporters’ ownership of clubs and supporters’ involvement in the management of their clubs. This includes a formal recognition of the role of properly constituted Supporters’ Trusts such as HCST. While these provisions are of little relevance to Hull City right now, with the financial future of club being at little immediate risk, they may be of relevance in the medium and long term should the darker days of our history over the last 30 years ever be repeated.
The recommendations also place a requirement on clubs for senior representatives (either club owners, directors and/or senior executives) to meet with their supporters – including the Supporters’ Trust – at least twice a year to discuss the strategic direction of the club and matters that are of particular importance to fans. Hull City’s performance in this regard is patchy – the Fans’ Working Group is good practice, but hasn’t met for some time and has not considered recent changes at the club (after goal music, new ticketing arrangements) that would have benefited from early supporter engagement.
Finally, the recommendations discuss heritage matters in football – club assets that supporters value such as the club name, the home ground, club colours and the club crest or badge. The existing FA regulations in relation to name changes were endorsed by the Expert Group – there is a process in place that may not be perfect but clearly manages to recognise the views of supporters, the successful campaign to resist the Hull Tigers name change proposal confirms this. Similar provisions are in place to ensure supporters are heard when the relocation of a home stadium is being considered – an issue that may raise its head at Hull City in the future. The Expert Group also makes a commitment to supporter engagement when colours and crests are to be changed – a welcome development that may come too late for Hull City and our new “1 904” badge, but will assist many other clubs in the future.
Hull City Supporters’ Trust fully supports the findings of this expert group, and we look forward to working with Hull City to put its recommendations into action. This will require a change of approach by the management of Hull City, which currently does not communicate formally with the Trust. We stand ready to build a positive relationship once the club changes its stance.
The full report can be found here.