22/23 Fan Engagement Review: EFL League Two

We’ve now looked at fan engagement in the Championship, and last week, in League One

This week we finish the EFL with League Two for a look into what has been happening this past year. Will any of this affect the next Fan Engagement Index? We can’t tell you that yet, but read on…

This week we turn our attention to League Two and all the goings on in fan engagement throughout the past year.

Bradford City Supporters Trust meet with representatives of the club regularly throughout each year to engage in structured dialogue, helping the club to understand what their members/supporters want, providing advice to the club on what they could benefit from, keeping trust members informed and engaged.

Over the past couple of years these meetings have mostly been with the club’s CEO, Ryan Sparks and lead Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO), Marco Townson. In the last meeting where both were present the trust asked if there could be a more formal approach to the meetings, with more of the club’s Senior Leadership Team present meaning all different departments could be represented. This was agreed and could bring both parties closer to signing a non-legal binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This is another excellent initiative, building on the already excellent work at the club under CEO Ryan Sparks and his team – a club we’ve advised on their journey from the foot of the Fan Engagement Index to the top-ten.

In April, the Crawley Town Supporters Association sent an open letter to the ownership (Wagmi United) detailing how they no longer have any confidence in the current Co-Chairman Preston Johnson and Eben Smith, and interim CEO Chris Galley. The Supporters Association describe how the poor decisions made by the current top level management have resulted in a real decline for Crawley over the past year.

Moreover, the CTSA has been attempting to hold a formal meeting with the club ownership/management to allow supporters to have greater input and provide feedback on the decision-making process at the club. However, the Supporters Association claim that communication between those at board level and the fans has broken down completely. With all this mind, they are calling on the ownership to appoint replacements and commence constructive dialogue with the fans.

The Dale Supporters Trust at recently relegated Rochdale took part in a meeting with the Board of Directors at the club in May to look at questions supporters had regarding the ownership of the club and the desire to bring in outside investment. Tough questions were asked as the Trust also seek greater clarity over the potential for outside investment and generally more transparency about the goings on at boardroom level.

Swindon Town Supporters Trust are encouraging Robins fans to invest in the future redevelopment of their stadium. In March the club and the Trust entered into a joint 50/50 agreement whereby both parties took ownership of the County Ground from Swindon Borough Council. Now that the ground has been purchased the focus turns to making the stadium a modern facility that can be used to aid Swindon Town in becoming more financially sustainable.

To that end, the Trust are asking fans to contribute to the County Ground Community Fund which will help to create a better fan experience on matchdays, and help the club raise additional income from the field through improved facilities. This will doubtless help the club to maintain its big rise in the Fan Engagement rankings last season.

Both Tranmere Rovers Trust and football club have been working tirelessly in recent times on plans for a Tranmere Garden (previously known as the Fan Park) and in March it was announced that construction would commence at Prenton Park after the Easter Weekend and would last a total of 26 weeks before completion. A great achievement that once again highlights how cooperation between football clubs and supporters’ trusts can have significant benefits – especially when they have a proper role in the oversight of the football club as Tranmere do (via associate directors and other fan engagement)

Overall, the outlook for fan engagement in League Two is mostly positive. Clubs such as Bradford City, Swindon and Tranmere are showing positive engagement with their supporters and how this can be of assistance. Regrettably, the landscape isn’t always entirely positive and hopefully in the near future we will see changes at Crawley (where problems seem largely self-inflicted), and a gradual recovery for Rochdale, where the owners and fans who battled so hard to save the club.

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