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Sustain The Game ! A Call For The Authorities To Protect The Clubs
Friday, 21st Aug 2020 09:28

The Football Supporters Association along with Fan groups, politicians and pundits are calling for urgent action to protect the “very existence” of football clubs, find out more about this initiative and how you can play your part.

Supporters’ groups from across the country have joined forces with politicians and pundits to launch “Sustain The Game!” - a new campaign which calls for urgent action from the authorities to protect the existence of clubs throughout the game.

The financial strains caused by Covid-19 have threatened many clubs and fans say urgent action is needed from the football authorities to help them survive.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) is coordinating Sustain The Game! and says that while the current pandemic has brought many issues to an immediate head, these are long standing finance and governance matters which need to be fixed.

The Government’s 2019 manifesto committed to a “fan led” review of football governance and the FSA says it wants to demonstrate the support within football for that to happen.

The campaign is backed by fans’ organisations from almost all of the 92 Premier League and EFL clubs alongside those in the women’s game, non-league and high profile ex-pros and pundits such as Jamie Carragher, Henry Winter, Colin Murray, Amy Lawrence, Guy Mowbray, and FSA Commentator of the Year Peter Drury.

Political support comes in the shape of ex-sports minister Tracey Crouch MP, Labour’s shadow sports minister Alison McGovern MP and Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper MP, the party’s sports spokesperson.

The campaign is also backed by the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters and many community-owned clubs including the newly-formed Bury AFC.

Campaign backers say the football authorities and government cannot sit back and watch as dozens of historic clubs are under immediate threat and could disappear altogether.

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said:

“Football occupies a special space in our society as clubs carry huge cultural and local economic importance. Sustain The Game! will demonstrate the need for urgent action as the very existence of many clubs is under threat. If we don’t act now we might lose some forever.

“We call on everyone with an interest in the game, from clubs and leagues to players and managers, to come together and work in partnership to support Sustain The Game! The time for action isn’t next week, next month, or next year - it’s now.”

Ex-Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher said:

“The FSA's Sustain The Game! campaign can play a massive role in protecting clubs throughout the game. This is a difficult time for the game but it's also a chance to make real changes. Supporters' have to be involved in that as well.”

Sustain The Game! is built around five key principles and aims to protect clubs, increase transparency, implement strong independent financial controls, strengthen the football pyramid, and increase supporter engagement.

Sustain The Game! Principles:

1. Protect our clubs - football clubs are community assets and an important expression of individual and local identity, they deserve legal protection and urgent support to secure their future;

2. Transparency - everyone has a right to know who owns their club, and how clubs and the authorities operate. Owners are custodians of clubs on behalf of all of us;

3. Financial controls - fans want rules with real teeth which are independently enforced, clubs and leagues can't be left to regulate themselves;

4. Strengthen the pyramid - football as a whole is wealthy, but we need a smarter and fairer use of the money in the game to encourage sustainability;

5. Supporter engagement - fans are the lifeblood of the game, they need a voice in their clubs and on all issues that affect them and their communities.

To find out more about Sustain The Game! and see all signatories visit: www.thefsa.org.uk

So who are behind this initiative and what are they proposing ?

The simple answer is that although the Football Supporters Association (FSA) is coordinating the campaign, it is driven by fans groups across the country and backed by big names and it runs far deeper and longer than today's announcement.

Fans groups have increasingly become more concerned about the way that football is going with the rich becoming richer and the poor poorer and more worryingly there seem to be an increasing amount of clubs taken over by those whose motives are questionable and who ride roughshod over the history and culture of a club and see the fans as an inconvenience .

The FSA has made a series of proposals to the FA including a new Code of Practice on the Stewardship of Football Clubs which sets out guidance for clubs and owners on a range of issues which have caused problems – name changes, playing colours and badges, stadium location, training facilities, failure to honour wages, and tax commitments. The code would also stop owners loading debt onto a club in order to finance its purchase.

The proposals have the support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters.

The Football Supporters’ Association is the national supporters’ organisation for all football fans from England and Wales with more than 500,000 individual fans and members of local supporters’ organisations from every club in the professional structure and many beyond. Find out more about the FSA and its campaigns via www.thefsa.org.uk or on Twitter @wearethefsa

Photo: Action Images

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SanMarco added 10:34 - Aug 21
All very sensible. I fear though that the 'transparency' and 'financial controls' demands will mean that the big clubs simply ignore this as per usual. The support for those lower down the pyramid needs to come from those higher up the pyramid. Not from fans or government but from the clubs themselves. I see no evidence that Manure or Liverpool etc really give a stuff about Tranmere, Scunthorpe, Rotherham or AFC Bury.

Football reflects society in its increasing inequality. If you accept or support that growing gap then you have to accept that there won't be 92 clubs + non-league around for much longer. There is no point Carragher getting sentimental if he is not going to do something about it. And that means money flowing downwards. Those that support 'dog-eat-dog' will oppose that and that is fair enough but those older supporters like myself who are used to the classified results taking a long time to get through can't have it both ways!!

SaintNick added 10:54 - Aug 21
The big clubs need to feel pressurised to do something, the supporters groups of Liverpool, Newcastle, Everton Spurs, Arsenal Man Utd & Chelsea are all pushing their clubs to look at the situation.

We can all sit back and moan that it is never going to happen etc, but unless we try then it won't

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