Fan Engagement Hub

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Index of Key Terms


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A to D

Documents giving those attending meetings prior notice of what is being discussed. Agendas also give all the relevant details of when and where the meetings take place and who attends

CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)
The professional body for Public Relations practitioners in the UK.

A party that receives or consumes products/goods/services and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers.

Customer Charter
A document published every season by Premier League/EFL clubs showing how they deal with fans in a number of areas, e.g.: ticketing, complaints and in some cases, Fan Engagement. Often also known as ‘Supporter Charter’, ‘Fan Charter’ or ‘Club Charter’.

Customer Services
Individuals, teams or departments who deal with fans regularly. Often used interchangeably with ‘Supporter Services’

A two-way process that means the potential for changes of view between the organisation and its ‘publics’ (often termed ‘stakeholders). Well established in Public Relations (PR). In football, this means that clubs use the views and opinions of fans in order to help shape and inform their decisions in advance.

E to H

Fan/community ownership
A minimum of 50% +1 of the voting rights of a club controlled collectively by a democratic entity which has an open and inclusive membership.

Fans Forums
Large gatherings of fans attending organised meetings with owners, representatives of owners, and club senior management. Sometimes also include football and playing/management staff. These meetings are usually open to all supporters, although they may sometimes be limited to season ticket holders or club members for venue capacity reasons.

Fans Parliaments
Groups of fans, ideally elected by fans, representing various groups within the fanbase, including season ticket holders, members, various age groups, specific minority groups such as disabled, LGBT+, black or minority ethnic. Sometimes these groups also include representatives of actual other supporters’ groups, and in some, a supporters’ trust, though best practice is for such a group to have a direct relationship with the club because of a trust’s expressed interest in governance and ownership.

Football Supporters Association (FSA)
The name of the new organisation following the merger of Supporters Direct and The Football Supporters Federation (see also ‘FSF’ and ‘Supporters Direct’)

Football Supporters Federation
Along with Supporters Direct, one of the two organisations that merged in the Summer of 2018 to create the FSA (see also Supporters Direct). Concerned with representing the interests of individual fans and a variety of fan organisations.

Government Expert Working Group
The Government Expert Working Group (also known as EWG) on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement was an informal working group made up of Supporters Direct (SD) and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF). The FA, Premier League, EFL and National League who were also represented. The government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) organised the group. It investigated the barriers to greater supporter ownership of football clubs, and explored how supporter engagement and involvement in the governance and running of clubs could be increased and improved. It was appointed in October 2014, and reported in November 2015.

I to L

Independent supporters’ group/organisation
Groups of supporters, usually with a formalised constitution or set of rules which seek to represent supporters to the club. In many cases, they refer to a supporters’ trust, but sometimes are groups in slightly different forms. See also ‘Supporters’ Trust’ and ‘Ultras’

M to P

Minutes (i.e.: of a meeting)
The official record of a meeting that has taken place, detailing who was present and what was discussed and decided. In some cases, particularly where there is a contentious issue being discussed, two separate minute-takers will be present to ensure that nothing is misinterpreted.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
A ‘non-binding agreement which outlines an intention to promote collaboration between partner institutions’ (Glasgow University). In Fan Engagement terms, they are usually between a football club and a supporters’ trust.

Public Relations
‘The discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics [often referred to as stakeholders].’ (Chartered Institute of Public Relations).

‘Publics’ are audiences that are important to the organisation. They include customers – existing and potential; employees and management; investors; media; government; suppliers; opinion-formers’ (CIPR). See also ‘Stakeholder’

Q to T

An individual who has an interest in a company or organisation, and can affect or be affected by what it does, beyond simply being a customer or client.

Shareholders’ Agreements
Shareholders’ agreements can exist between all shareholders, or only some – for example, the holders of a particular class of share. They exist to protect the shareholders’ investment in the company, and establish a fair relationship between the shareholders, and governs how the company is run. The agreement will typically set out the shareholders’ rights and obligations; regulate the sale of shares in the company; describe how the company is going to be run; provide an element of protection for minority shareholders in the company; and define how important decisions are to be made. This can be beneficial both to minority and majority shareholders.

Structured Dialogue/Engagement/Relationships
Used interchangeably in football to describe regularised relationships between clubs and fans. Range from fans forums, to fans parliaments, or meetings with a single organisation representing fans (e.g.: a supporters’ trust). ‘Structured’ sometimes refers to the precise form of agreement, usually written – for example an MOU or a shareholders’ agreement – that governs the relationship.

Supporter Director
A legally appointed director of a UK registered company who is appointed or elected (usually by a supporters’ trust) to represent the views of the supporters. Typically, a supporter director’s legitimacy derives from a supporters’ trust and its underlying relationship with the club. Either directly elected by members of the trust, or appointed by the trust’s board. See also ‘Supporter Representative’.

Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO)
A club official who acts ‘as a bridge between football clubs and supporters by providing a two-way flow of information around key topical issues (SD Europe).’ The role is mandatory for all clubs in the top four divisions of English football.

Supporter (board) Representative
An individual who is not a legally appointed director of a UK registered company, but appointed/elected (usually by a supporters’ trust) to represent the views of the supporters. A representative’s legitimacy typically derives from a supporters’ trust and its underlying relationship with the club. Either directly elected by members of the trust, or appointed by the trust’s board. See also ‘Supporter Director’.

Supporters’ Trust
A supporters’ trust is a not-for-profit, democratic group of supporters, established in the UK as an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) or Community Benefit Society (CBS), to represent fans of a particular club. Recognised in the 2015 Government Expert Working Group report as the ideal vehicle for structured dialogue. Established across Europe with similar governing structures. Largely superseded other forms of club-focused representation for fans. See also ‘Independent Supporters’ Organisation’ & ‘Supporters Direct’.

U to Z

Large, often well organised groups of fans creating an atmosphere to support their team. In England they have emerged, particularly in the top-flight, because of the view that the atmosphere at matches has degraded. Examples are the Spion Kop 1906 (Liverpool) and Homesdale Fanatics (Crystal Palace).