Democracy, change and policing of games
Once again, we find ourselves writing at what it a very important time for the Trust. The pace of events shows no sign of slowing and the last week or so has been one of the busiest we have had for some time.
Democracy and Change
Last Saturday we launched our annual election process. With three Members of our Committee standing down, we are going to see some new blood on our team and are therefore delighted to have a really impressive slate of five candidates for the three places available.
Voting continues until 3 December and we have already had a pleasingly strong response from Members. The results will be announced on 4 December at our Annual General Meeting.
Whoever joins our numbers could hardly be coming in at a more important time. We are hopeful that, by the time you read this, Tracey Crouch will have published her final recommendations to the Government emerging from the fan-led review (FLR) of English football.
Our understanding is that the final report will be similar to, and just as hard-hitting as the interim proposals she published in July. We are very hopeful that this will include the creation of an independent regulator to replace the woeful efforts of the EPL, EFL and the National League.
But we are also hoping for much more. The way that TV revenue flows (or not) around the national game needs a fundamental overhaul, and although Ms. Crouch is unlikely to prescribe one approach it is likely that she will recommend big changes. We are also hoping she will make bold recommendations for supporters of clubs having stronger representation within them, and a much bigger say in the main strategic issues that affect them.
Any such recommendations may well up the ante for Supporters Trusts. Greater rights to representation will come with greater levels of responsibility and greater scrutiny of what WE do. As a Trust that has fought long and hard for just such a change, we are very excited about what Ms. Crouch might say. But we will need to provide a strong response in terms of :
• continuing to strengthen our levels of accountability to our Members
• working collaboratively with our football club to rise to any new standards that are set
• influencing the way in which national policy for fans groups evolves by punching our weight within the Football Supporters Association (FSA)
This last point continues to be very important. We expect Ms. Crouch’s proposals to be far-reaching, but they will matter very little if strong action to implement them does not follow. That may need legislation and some new codes of behaviour - and none of that will happen without a lot more hard work involving those who run the game, those who watch it and the Government. We expect that these challenges will be with us throughout 2022 and (in all probability) well into 2023.
Our Annual General Meeting
As stated above, we are finally getting together in person for a meeting in the Armfield Club on 4 December (commencing at 11 a.m.). As well as announcing the outcome of our elections, we will also (as we are obliged to do) publish our accounts.
We are very pleased to say that the club’s Chief Executive, Ben Mansford, will be joining us. He has volunteered to say a few words and take some questions from Members ; it is a great chance for us to hear his thoughts on what we have done this year and the plans that the club has for the future.
Assuming Ms. Crouch has made her announcement by then, we are also to be joined by Clarke Carlisle. Apart from being a crowd favourite at Bloomfield Road, Clarke has had a distinguished career with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). He was also one of the Panel of Advisors who supported Ms. Crouch and heard evidence on the fan-led review during the summer - including asking our Trust representatives some searching question when we gave evidence. He will offer perspectives on the changes underway in the game that we seldom get to hear - and we look forward to them.
Policing Games and Crowd Safety
We know that these are not only very topical issues, but a source of great worry for many of you. Disorder at matches has been (thankfully) rare in recent years, but the heightened interest in the team and success on the field are bringing some problems and the police and ground authorities have found it difficult to find an approach to managing crowd safety that deals effectively with these issues
A meeting of various interested parties, including the club and fans groups, was held on Thursday evening - after this article was drafted. But BST welcomes any serious attempt to deal with a problem that is exasperating a lot of wholly innocent people and frightening others who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We will report back on these discussions, and no doubt debate them again. But we hope that they can be resolved quickly - and not only for our own peace of mind.
The club’s reputation is also at stake here, and the recent problems we have all seen are a poor reward for the huge amounts of time, money and effort that Mr. Sadler is pouring into the club and its future. He - and we - deserve far better.
You will see this article as we approach a crucial six game period in the run up to Christmas. Let's hope the festivities start in Swansea on Saturday. Up the ‘Pool!