BST: Fan representation must be done properly

Blackpool Supporters' Trust have written to the fan base and to the board of Blackpool FC concerning fan representation at the club, which they insist mut be done in a fair and proper way.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th May 2016, 5:59 am
Blackpool fans look dejected during the second half at Peterborough
Blackpool fans look dejected during the second half at Peterborough

It reads: Last week’s ‘Message From The Board’ of Blackpool FC made several references to plans for changing Fan Representation at the club, claiming that:

n Fan representation on the board has already been initiated.

nA democratic process for fan board membership will be implemented for the coming season.

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n It is hoped that fans will have a large say in shaping future policy.

n It has been proposed that areas of control will be devolved to the FPG so that fans have a level of influence that has previously been absent.

It is well known that the membership of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust voted not to recognise the Fans’ Parliament – or the Fans Progress Group as it remodelled itself – because it was a group of well-meaning individuals appointed by the club – selected, not elected, with no clear constitution, aims or legitimacy.

It is unclear to most supporters how that group of individuals has interacted with, and for the benefit of, the club and its fans in this last, disastrous season. The fact seven of the original 12 FPG members have resigned their positions speaks for itself. The opinion of the majority of supporters is the FPG has proved a flawed and ineffective body whose existence has achieved little except to allow the owners to assert they are nominally involved with the fans.

If it is now the intention of the club so seek more effective and democratic representation from the fan base – which is entirely in line with the recommendations of the recent government report on fan representation – then BST hopes this will be implemented in line with the objectives we outlined in July 2015 and which we revisit here. They were framed in the interests of democracy, good governance and transparency.

1) Any supporter, season ticket holder, or not, should be able to put themselves forward for election to the committee of fans’ representatives.

2) Anyone who is a member of one of the properly constituted supporters’ groups should be able to vote in the election of committee members and the fan board member.

3) A truly independent fans panel should oversee the elections.

4) One member of the committee will be elected by supporters to sit on the club board and will have the equivalent voting rights of someone owning 20 per cent of Blackpool FC Limited shares.

5) The committee will meet formally four times per year with the chairman of the club, directors, football and departmental staff and prior to these formal meetings, members of the committee will meet with delegations from the properly constituted supporters’ groups in a structured way to agree agenda items and topics for discussion. The committee will also schedule bi-annual public meetings for all fans to attend where further agenda items and topics might be agreed.

6) The fans’ board representative will be delegated by the committee to engage with the club’s Board on all matters concerning the club and its business. He/she will report back to the committee and, excepting for issues requiring confidentiality, the actions and decisions of the Board and the committee will be made public within five working days of meetings taking place.

Anything short of delivering on these objectives to create truly democratic, independent and empowered fan engagement will not satisfy supporters’ aspirations as stakeholders in our club. There must be no tokenism and no disenfranchisement of supporters’ rights. We believe adherence to these principles is the only way in which fan representation will ever have any credibility or opportunity to succeed and is the only way in which the enormous rifts in our club might eventually begin to be healed.

There is an irony that Blackpool Supporters’ Trust has many of these elements in place as an independent and democratic supporters’ group and we will continue to press for such representation to be in place at Blackpool FC, whoever the owners may be.