Britain’s English Premier League may be the most watched league in the world but is not without its issues. The disconnect with the fans since clubs became public listed companies has been clear, the foreign ownership has also widened the gap between the traditional supporters and the clubs.
The British Parliament has looked to step in and return football to the fans, although not surprisingly football’s power brokers do not want to relinquish their iron clad grip just yet.
The opposition sports spokesperson Labour’s Clive Efford, who happens to be a lifelong Millwall fan and also a qualified football coach, spoke out last week. The MP for Eltham in Kent backed proposals to bring more people power to football.
The current Government in Great Britain has stated that it “is already completely committed to helping supporters have better engagement with the clubs they support and more of a say on how they are run. This is exactly why we have been working to establish a working group on the matter.” Sports Minister Helen Grant was quoted as saying last week.
The current plans mean that fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field. Efford is quoted as saying, “we have reached a tipping point in the way football is run.”
Whether the Politicians will get their way and return football to the people is another thing, FIFA does not take kindly to Political interference in its sport, and countries such as Kenya have received international bans as a result of political interference.
However the goal to give fans a voice in every boardroom and the chance to buy shares in the club they support are positive moves for the good of the game. Certainly many clubs in various codes in Australia would welcome similar moves.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out, whether FIFA steps in or not and also whether the clubs actually back the recommendations based on an in-depth study into the game.