The letter, published in The Independent, has been signed by trusts from Carlisle to Torquay, and from the Championship through Leagues 1 and 2, to the National League and beyond.
It follows polling earlier this year which showed more than 70 per cent or football fans wanted to see greater opportunity for supporter ownership of football clubs.
The letter reads:
Dear Tracey Crouch MP,
The Fan Led Review is a once in a generation opportunity to change our game for the better. As its Chair, we know you understand that. Supporter ownership must be part of the answer – we hope you understand that too.
We write today – as representatives of Supporters Trusts and community organisations – to both make the case for greater fan ownership of our football clubs, and to demonstrate the widespread support for community ownership across the game.
There is no larger community institution than a football club. Up and down the country, and throughout the leagues, football clubs are so much more than what happens on the pitch. They are social hubs, economic anchor institutions, drivers of civic pride and leaders in local action. They create shared value which goes well beyond the charitable works they provide – from foodbanks to vaccination campaigns and much, much more. In many cases, they are the glue that keeps a community together.
But football clubs, especially outside the Premier League, are at risk – from the financial crisis consuming our game, and from owners and investors who put their own interests above the hopes, dreams and history of a community and a beloved local institution.
We understand that the Fan Led Review is likely to recommend a football regulator to help place the game on a more sustainable footing and a ‘golden share’ to ensure that the most egregious anti-fan steps can be blocked.
That’s a good start. But it’s not enough. Fans should have more than an opportunity to block the very worst an out-of-touch owner can do. We should open the door to allow more fans to own their own clubs.
After all, community ownership can have tremendous benefits for everyone – especially for clubs in crisis. For the club it means survival, security and sustainability, for the fans it means their club is run by true custodians not distant owners, and for wider society it means a huge institution right in the heart of the community committed to creating social value.
The Fan Led Review must, therefore, find a way to open the door for fan ownership. When clubs are put up for sale, all too often Supporters Trusts can’t even get on the pitch because of the need for day one capital – even when they can show a sound long-term business plan. That has to change – Power to Change, for example, have suggested the establishment of a Community Club Ownership Trust to help fan groups get over that first hurdle.
Football without the fans is nothing. It’s time to shift the balance of the game back towards the communities that make it what it is.
Today, there are too many barriers to supporter ownership. The Fan Led Review should help tear them down.
- Blues Trusts (Birmingham City, Championship)
- CAS Trust (Charlton Athletic FC, League One)
- RICT (Lincoln City, League One)
- The Posh Trust (Peterborough United, League One)
- Pompey Supporters Trust (Portsmouth FA, League One)
- BCST (Bradford City, League Two)
- CUOSC (Carlisle United, League Two)
- NTFC Trust (Northampton Town, League Two)
- Push the Boundary (Oldham Athletic, League Two)
- TRSC (Tranmere Rovers, League Two)
- Dale Trust (Rochdale AFC, League Two)
- Exeter City (Supporter Owned Club, League Two)
- TUST (Torquay United, National League)
- KLFC Trust (Kings Lynn FC National League)
- Camden and Islington United FC (Supporter Owned Club, Middlesex County Football League)
- Dunstable Town (Supporter Owned Club, Spartan South Midlands Football League)
- FC United (Supporter Owned Club, Northern Premier League)
- Enfield Town (Supporter Owned Club, Isthmian League Premier Division)
- 1874 Northwich (Supporter Owned Club, Northern Premier League Division One)
- Bury AFC (Supporter Owned Club, North West Counties League First Division North
- Hinckley AFC (Supporter Owned Club, United Counties League Division One)
- Grays Athletic (Supporter Owned Club, Isthmian League North)
- Chester FC (Supporter Owned Club, National League North)
- Hendon FC (Supporter Owned Club, Southern League Premier Division South)
- Vidhya Alakeson (Power to Change)
Find out more about out campaign These Clubs are Ours: putting football in community hands