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Transparency in 2019/2020

Transparency is the extent to which information is ‘complete and ‘findable’’, and ‘the degree to which it is disaggregated, verified and simplified’ (G. Michenera and K. Bersch, Brazilian School of Public & Business Administration, Brazil)

  • Transparency is about how much of what a club does is exposed to the fans/stakeholders
  • It’s a difficult challenge for clubs, being community assets, though almost always privately owned
  • Our research shows that more clubs need to publish information about meetings involving fans. This applies to all clubs in all circumstances and ownership models
  • Much of the failure to publish is we believe, down to oversight, and can be easily rectified
  • We also believe that some form of regular reporting from club board meetings would greatly enhance the understanding of process and decision making at clubs

Transparency remains one of the most neglected parts of Fan Engagement, yet it is one of the most important. Dialogue means nothing if fans aren’t actually aware of the dialogue taking place, or can’t take part or feed into it directly (e.g. a fans forum), or via their representatives (e.g. a fans parliament or supporters’ trust).

Transparency doesn’t mean publishing everything, as it there are perfectly legitimate business or sporting reasons to redact or not publish certain information. For example, if the supporters’ trust has formally elected or appointed director to represent the fans at board level, there may be important discussions about internal staffing or player disciplinary issues that can’t be published for justifiable legal reasons, and so the relevant passage would be redacted (blacked out). There is certainly no reason not to disclose certain, pre-agreed information, and this can be governed by a Memorandum of Understanding, or a formal legal agreement, or where relevant, a shareholders agreement such as that between the supporters’ trusts and clubs at Carlisle United or Swansea City.

We also include a score for reporting on club board meetings as well, because we believe that all clubs should be open and honest about the big, strategic decisions made that directly affect fans, even if there aren’t fan representatives present. This is also a slightly more flexible measurement than the others. We score anything from direct addresses from the owners/directors to the fans about annual financial performance, off-pitch decisions or other issues, as well as formal minutes or direct reports from actual board meetings, or a supporters’ trust or board representative discussing or reporting board meetings via their own board meeting minutes.

The expectation is that fan-owned clubs all do well here, and they do, given the transparency requirements of the model that might be referred to as ‘50%+1’. However we believe that all clubs should be reporting proceedings to some extent.

AFC Wimbledon top the list for transparency, with Exeter City second. Reading once again prove that being privately owned doesn’t prevent transparency, and they are joined by a number of other clubs including Millwall and Bradford City.

If you’re interested in chatting about the Fan Engagement Index, or what Think Fan Engagement can do for you, your club, your brand or your client, drop us a line.

Transparency Table 2019/2020

Place

Club

Division

Transparency Total

1

AFC Wimbledon

League One

60

2

Exeter City

League Two

55

3

Reading

Championship

55

4

Cambridge United

League Two

45

5

Bradford City

League Two

40

6

Lincoln City

League One

40

7

Millwall

Championship

40

8

Newport County

League Two

40

9

Carlisle United

League Two

35

10

Crawley Town

League Two

35

11

Norwich City

Premier League

35

12

Queens Park Rangers

Championship

35

13

Rochdale

League One

35

14

Shrewsbury Town

League One

35

15

Southampton

Premier League

35

16

Stoke City

Championship

35

17

Wigan Athletic

Championship

35

18

Blackburn Rovers

Championship

30

19

Derby County

Championship

30

20

Doncaster Rovers

League One

30

21

Everton

Premier League

30

22

Plymouth Argyle

League Two

30

23

Accrington Stanley

League One

20

24

Brighton & Hove Albion

Premier League

20

25

Bristol Rovers

League One

20

26

Burton Albion

League One

20

27

Fleetwood Town

League One

20

28

Fulham

Championship

20

29

Leicester City

Premier League

20

30

Leyton Orient

League Two

20

31

Middlesbrough

Championship

20

32

Northampton Town

League Two

20

33

Portsmouth

League One

20

34

Rotherham United

League One

20

35

Scunthorpe United

League Two

20

36

Stevenage

League Two

20

37

Walsall

League Two

20

38

Wycombe Wanderers

League One

20

39

Arsenal

Premier League

15

40

Aston Villa

Championship

15

41

Birmingham City

Championship

15

42

Blackpool

League One

15

43

Brentford

Championship

15

44

Charlton Athletic

Championship

15

45

Chelsea

Premier League

15

46

Coventry City

League One

15

47

Crystal Palace

Premier League

15

48

Forest Green Rovers

League Two

15

49

Huddersfield Town

Premier League

15

50

Hull City

Championship

15

51

Manchester City

Premier League

15

52

Manchester United

Premier League

15

53

Morecambe

League Two

15

54

Newcastle United

Premier League

15

55

Oldham Athletic

League Two

15

56

Sheffield United

Premier League

15

57

Southend United

League One

15

58

Sunderland

League One

15

59

Swansea City

Championship

15

60

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League

15

61

Tranmere Rovers

League One

15

62

West Bromwich Albion

Championship

15

63

West Ham United

Premier League

15

64

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League

15

65

Cheltenham Town

League Two

5

66

Gillingham

League One

5

67

Grimsby Town

League Two

5

68

Oxford United

League One

5

69

Preston North-End

Championship

5

70

Salford City

League Two

5

71

AFC Bournemouth

Premier League

0

72

Barnsley

Championship

0

73

Bolton Wanderers

League One

0

74

Bristol City

Championship

0

75

Burnley

Premier League

0

76

Cardiff City

Championship

0

77

Colchester United

League Two

0

78

Crewe Alexandra

League Two

0

79

Ipswich Town

League One

0

80

Leeds United

Championship

0

81

Liverpool

Premier League

0

82

Luton Town

Championship

0

83

Macclesfield Town

League Two

0

84

Mansfield Town

League Two

0

85

Milton Keynes Dons

League One

0

86

Nottingham Forest

Championship

0

87

Peterborough United

League One

0

88

Port Vale

League Two

0

89

Sheffield Wednesday

Championship

0

90

Swindon Town

League Two

0

91

Watford

Premier League

0

Previous Governance in 2019/2020