Fan Engagement Hub

< All Topics
Print

Governance in 2019/2020

‘(Corporate) governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled (Chartered Governance Institute)’

  • Governance is about how decisions are made, fans voices listened to, and their interests taken into account and managed
  • Governance helps underpin relationships, and is advisable as it means greater certainty and clarity for both club & fans
  • Fan organisations (supporters’ trusts particularly) now make greater demands of clubs to ensure their position is more secure
  • MOUs or legal agreements are becoming more popular, and can reinforce the position held by a fan director, or a collective shareholding held on behalf of fans
  • EFL and Premier League external regulations i.e.: Customer Charters and SLOs are also important, and are part of the scoring in this section

Governance is about the enforcement of Fan Engagement. Enforcement matters because otherwise, commons standards are harder to maintain, as everything would be left to the club to decide for itself – including whether it wanted to even have forms of dialogue. As a game we have gone beyond that idea and clubs and leagues have accepted that dialogue is at least a necessity – if not a benefit. However, whether and how clubs carry out that dialogue matters equally. We don’t think applying the rules as clubs wish to be a good idea in areas such as stadium safety standards or ticket allocations, so why should we consider it acceptable when it comes to such a critical element as Fan Engagement?

Governance measures external to the club

In English football certain elements of the Governance of Fan Engagement are required by the rulebook such as Customer Charters or Supporter Liaison Officers (SLO).

Customer Charters are well known and have existed since the 1990s. In 2018/2019’s Index, we highlighted the potential for Charters to be important documents that should explain the backbone of how a club carries out its Fan Engagement. Some, including Lincoln City, Blackburn and Brighton, clearly make an effort to ensure that their charters provide information ranging from ticketing to engagement. Some do not. We could find no Charters for Spurs and Chelsea, and even some of those performing well such as Reading and Bristol Rovers couldn’t be found either. Perhaps the EFL and Premier League need to rethink whether Charters should be dispensed with. We still think that they could be the ‘go-to’ document about Fan Engagement, and would encourage both EFL and Premier League to think about how they can help clubs to make them work.

SLOs are another area where some clubs aren’t in our view operating in the spirit of the requirement. Although it is a role that does need to be interpreted by the club concerned to fit its circumstances, simply placing it in the hands of a ticket office manager or head of media without considering other options seems to be missing a trick. Many clubs (Grimsby Town, Tranmere Rovers) deliver the role through a team of fan-volunteers, and this is a good recognition that the role can be a very positive one if clubs want to use to to improve relationships with the fanbase, and many clubs who can afford to, for example Leicester City, Arsenal and Cardiff City, employ their SLO. Cardiff are a particluar example where the role has been fundamental in even helping to change the behaviour of fans.

There is a lot of work being done in this area however, and SD Europe are playing an increasing role to ensure that the role is delivered effectively at clubs. We certainly recommend that any club who wants help in how to make the role effective, to either get in touch with one of those clubs, or to contact SD Europe, who are the Europe-wide experts in this area.

Internal Governance

Internal Governance includes legal agreements in place at clubs with 50%+1/overall fan ownership or minority ownership by fans. It also includes where a director (or a representative that is not a full director) sits on the board or attends board meetings, or where there are legal agreements between a supporters’ trust and club, including shareholders agreements. Finally there is also the ‘quasi-legal’ ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU), which has become an increasingly popular measure for clubs to adopt, and is used successfully at the likes of Fulham, Norwich City, Rochdale and others. All of these measures help to create greater certainty for both club and fans, and provide a way to ensure that it isn’t straightforward for a new owner or CEO to just change things because it doesn’t suit them. Carlisle United and Swansea have shown the value of shareholders agreements over a long period, whilst Cambridge United are the poster-child for an effective Fan Director role.

Clubs such as Luton Town and Portsmouth both have commitments to protection of patrimony (name, badge, etc). Whilst these agreements are very limited, they are nonetheless quite progressive and important demonstrations of the intentions of private owners.

Governance Table 2019/2020

Place

Club

Division

Governance Total

1

Exeter City

League Two

80

2

Newport County

League Two

80

3

AFC Wimbledon

League One

65

4

Cambridge United

League Two

65

5

Carlisle United

League Two

65

6

Doncaster Rovers

League One

65

7

Grimsby Town

League Two

65

8

Wycombe Wanderers

League One

55

9

Cheltenham Town

League Two

50

10

Crewe Alexandra

League Two

50

11

Lincoln City

League One

50

12

Oldham Athletic

League Two

50

13

Fulham

Championship

45

14

Norwich City

Premier League

45

15

Portsmouth

League One

45

16

Tranmere Rovers

League One

45

17

Brentford

Championship

40

18

Swansea City

Championship

40

19

Arsenal

Premier League

35

20

Barnsley

Championship

35

21

Birmingham City

Championship

35

22

Blackpool

League One

35

23

Brighton & Hove Albion

Premier League

35

24

Bristol City

Championship

35

25

Huddersfield Town

Premier League

35

26

Hull City

Championship

35

27

Ipswich Town

League One

35

28

Leicester City

Premier League

35

29

Leyton Orient

League Two

35

30

Liverpool

Premier League

35

31

Luton Town

Championship

35

32

Manchester United

Premier League

35

33

Millwall

Championship

35

34

Peterborough United

League One

35

35

Port Vale

League Two

35

36

Rochdale

League One

35

37

Sheffield United

Premier League

35

38

Shrewsbury Town

League One

35

39

Stevenage

League Two

35

40

Stoke City

Championship

35

41

Sunderland

League One

35

42

Wigan Athletic

Championship

35

43

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League

35

44

Accrington Stanley

League One

30

45

Bristol Rovers

League One

30

46

Crawley Town

League Two

30

47

Burnley

Premier League

25

48

Burton Albion

League One

25

49

Cardiff City

Championship

25

50

Charlton Athletic

Championship

25

51

Everton

Premier League

25

52

Fleetwood Town

League One

25

53

Manchester City

Premier League

25

54

Mansfield Town

League Two

25

55

Middlesbrough

Championship

25

56

Northampton Town

League Two

25

57

Preston North-End

Championship

25

58

Rotherham United

League One

25

59

Southampton

Premier League

25

60

Walsall

League Two

25

61

Aston Villa

Championship

20

62

Blackburn Rovers

Championship

20

63

Bradford City

League Two

20

64

Coventry City

League One

20

65

Derby County

Championship

20

66

Forest Green Rovers

League Two

20

67

Gillingham

League One

20

68

Leeds United

Championship

20

69

Milton Keynes Dons

League One

20

70

Morecambe

League Two

20

71

Oxford United

League One

20

72

Plymouth Argyle

League Two

20

73

Queens Park Rangers

Championship

20

74

Salford City

League Two

20

75

Scunthorpe United

League Two

20

76

Southend United

League One

20

77

West Bromwich Albion

Championship

20

78

Reading

Championship

15

79

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League

15

80

Watford

Premier League

15

81

West Ham United

Premier League

15

82

AFC Bournemouth

Premier League

10

83

Colchester United

League Two

10

84

Macclesfield Town

League Two

10

85

Newcastle United

Premier League

10

86

Nottingham Forest

Championship

10

87

Sheffield Wednesday

Championship

10

88

Swindon Town

League Two

10

89

Chelsea

Premier League

5

90

Bolton Wanderers

League One

0

91

Crystal Palace

Premier League

0

Previous Fan Engagement: The Big Picture in 2019/2020
Next Transparency in 2019/2020