FSA UPDATE APR 2023 – FSA Liaison for Official Supporters’ Club
Supporters Club News
For our FA Cup 2nd Round tie against York City, we have two options. A day coach giving up to 4 hours at York Christmas Markets or go direct direct to the game, VIP and Exec coaches.
Coach Travel: NO ALCOHOL, DRUGS or PYROTECHNICS ALLOWED.U16s MUST travel with Adult. Anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.Read the Terms and Conditions before travellingCoach Travel Details Coach bookings are now being taken (details below) for the FA Cup Round...
The White Paper – A sustainable future
My name is Adam Pendlebury, I am the new FSA Liaison for the Official Wigan Athletic Supporters’ Club, taking over from Jason Taylor who did it for 7 years, Jeff Taylor prior to him who clocked up a couple of decades and Chris Coffey before him. It is my role to continue to update our members on the issues relating to the regulation of football, that affect Wigan Athletic fans.
The FSA is the national, democratic, representative body for football supporters in England and Wales. It plays an extremely important role in representing football supporters by listening to fan concerns, providing expert advice, and fostering relationships with key stakeholders such as the EFL, the FA and clubs.
The Official Wigan Athletic Supporters Club is proud to be the only affiliate members of the FSA who represents Wigan Athletic, working with the FSA since it’s inception. Affiliate members are groups who have a democratic structure and constitution. Traditionally these tend to be Supporters’ Clubs (like ourselves), community-owned clubs and supporters’ trusts. We as an official Supporters’ Club meet regularly with the FSA to ensure we are providing up-to-date updates for our members as well as keeping the FSA updated with what is happening at Wigan Athletic.
The White Paper – A sustainable future – reforming club football governance
I am sure you agree, that after the demise of Bury and Macclesfield, the stress and uncertainty of our own administration experience and the attempt by the “big 6” Premier League Clubs to join a European super-league, that something needed to change in English football. After lobbying by the FSA and other key stakeholders, and the publication of a fan-led review, the government have finally stepped in to protect our national game and, underpinned by legislation, put fans right back at the heart of football.
The White Paper represents the most radical overhaul of football governance since the rules were first invented over a century ago. The headline news is taking the key governance issues out of the hands of club owners and vest them in the hands of an Independent Regulator created by legislation. The paper is very long so I have taken out key bits which will resonate most with our fans. This article is also informed by meetings with the FSA and reading the current EFL regulations.
Owners and Directors
The Regulator will establish new tests for prospective owners and directors of football clubs.
This will aim to avoid any more unsuitable custodians causing or contributing to problems at clubs and risking harm to fans.
The new tests will consist of 3 key elements:
- A fitness and propriety test, to ensure integrity of owners and directors.
- Enhanced due diligence of source of wealth (owners).
- A requirement for robust financial plans (owners).
In my view these are welcome reforms. Point 2, would have most-likely prevented the transfer of the majority shareholding from IEC to Next Leader Fund in June 2020 as there would have been a much more detailed analysis of the source of funding. Having 2 years of funding in a bank account would not now be sufficient to satisfy the proof of funding. Point 3 is also important as the regulator would need to see a sensible business plan. This season has highlighted the importance of this. It is worth adding that clubs not sticking to their plans will face sanctions.
A Voice for the Fans
The Regulator will implement a minimum standard of fan engagement.
Fans are the most important stakeholder for any football club, and both parties benefit from their involvement in the long-term decision-making process at a club. The Regulator will ensure clubs have a framework in place to regularly meet a representative group of fans to discuss key matters at the club, and other issues of interest to supporters (including club heritage).
The Regulator will also add, and reinforce existing, protections around club heritage.
The Regulator will require clubs to comply with the Football Association (FA) on its new rules for club heritage, which will give fans a veto over changes to the badge and home shirt colours, in addition to the strong existing protections for club names. The Regulator will also require clubs to seek its approval for any sale or relocation of the club’s stadium.
This is also a welcome power, vested in the regulator. It is worth noting at this juncture that there are already in place, EFL rules relating to Fan Engagement:
Section 128: SUPPORTER ENGAGEMENT
128.1 Clubs shall hold at least two meetings/fans forums per Season to which its supporters (or representatives) are to be invited in order to discuss significant issues relating to the Club . The framework for these meetings shall be documented in the Club’s customer charter, but are subject to the following minimum criteria:
128.1.1 Clubs must be represented by the Club’s majority owner, board director(s) or other senior executive(s);
128.1.2 where meetings are not open to all supporters wishing to attend, the supporter representatives must be elected, selected or invited in line with basic democratic principles; and
128.1.3 individuals cannot be excluded by the Club without good reason (the Club acting reasonably).”
At Wigan Athletic, Fan engagement meetings/forums were promised in the first meeting with the CEO and under the new owners, but up to now, we have not had the 2 meetings per season that should be held. There had been some fan engagement forums pre-administration, but they tended to address day to day matters such as hospitality, ticket prices, ticket allocations, the quality of pies and the state of the toilets. Having this forum for fans is clearly important, and the Wigan Athletic Supporter Liaison officers and Official Supporters Club are working to ensure that the club facilitates what the FSA terms as ‘structured dialogue’. We need a diverse array of Wigan Fans to take part in this structured dialogue and more detail on how we can achieve this will follow In future updates.
The voice of the fans will be strengthened by the White Paper as this advises that fans will be able to have input into some of the strategic decisions such as budgets, sponsorship, general funding of different departments in the club and how the finance is distributed. The Supporters’ Club is working with the FSA and the club to ensure this is offered to our fans. Other clubs have done this, and our supporters deserve the same! Meetings and structured dialogue would be run professionally with minutes available for all fans to view. Transparency is essential!
Fan Engagement AOB
During my discussions with the FSA, I was informed of the following initiative.
“Fans for Diversity is a supporter-led campaign celebrating diversity in the game and we have a budget for club-specific activities – if you have an idea that needs funding, we’d love to hear from you” –
The Official Supporters’ Club will be bidding for funding from this pot for a project on inclusivity within our club. If you have any ideas, then please let me know.
If you have any comments or ideas on any of the points raised by our work with the FSA then just get in touch!
Want to Join The Supporters Club?
Wigan Athletic Supporters Club is a non-profit organisation which allows us to keep the costs low for travelling to away games, without compromising safety, comfort or security click here to apply.
Membership of the Supporters Club also gives extra benefits in the Wigan Athletic Supporters Club Bar, which provides a safe place for fans to go a couple of hours to chat and meet before most home games.
Click ‘Get involved’ for more information on the huge benefits of membership.