1
Position paper of Supporters Direct on the implementation of the new Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union (TF...
2
more than because of what they do, either in sporting of economic terms. Clubs are local monopolies;
supporters cannot t...
3
A. Governance
As stated in the accompanying document to the White Paper on Sport “a formalised involvement of
supporters...
4
Action:
• The EU should continue to address the democratic deficit in football, and help establish an arena to
reinforce...
5
The implementation of social reporting requirements can provide many positive benefits. It can help
demonstrate the indu...
6
F. Funding
Linked to supporting volunteers must be a recognition that most successful volunteering efforts are
supported...
7
Social dialogue
Since 2008 a sectoral European social dialogue committee has operated in the field of professional sport...
8
Summary of the actions recommended by Supporters Direct regarding the implementation of the new
Treaty on the Functionin...
9
F. Funding
We suggest a special sports-funding programme, which takes into account the special nature of sport
and in pa...
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Position paper of Supporters Direct on the implementation of the new Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on Sport   

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Position paper of Supporters Direct on the implementation of the new Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on Sport   

  1. 1. 1 Position paper of Supporters Direct on the implementation of the new Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on Sport Submitted to the Directorate General for Education and Culture European Commission, London, June 2010 1. About Us Supporters Direct was formed in 2000 as an initiative of the UK Government. It began working with English football supporters, but thanks to funding from the Scottish government soon began to work with Scottish football supporters. It has since 2009 worked with Rugby League supporters thanks to support from that sports governing body in the UK. It also works on an informal (unfunded) basis with supporters of Ice Hockey and Rugby Union in England, and with football supporters in the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland. UEFA too recognizes our statutes as stakeholders in the game and has funded our work across Europe since 2007. The involvement of supporters in the decision-making of clubs aids the integration of community interests into the decision making processes at their respective clubs. At clubs where is there a shareholding the inclusion of supporters ensures the club is not run totally in the shareholders interests but considers the needs of all users. Supporters Direct is regarded as an expert in developing the expertise required/requested by responsible fans all over Europe, establishing organized supporters groups seeking to increase their influence and developing inclusive governance structures at spectator sports clubs. It is registered as a democratic and not-for-profit co-operative society in the UK, with offices in London, Glasgow and Manchester. 2. Our philosophy Supporters Direct work with football supporters across Europe promoting voluntary democratic sports structures with a focus on active participation. We wish through our work to recognise the importance of promoting sports’ club cultural role. This understands that a club is an institution that has meaning in a community, and is a vehicle for community cohesion and identity formation. Sports clubs are often the longest-standing entities in their localities, predating nearly all other companies and organisations, and provide a coherent focus; they a re a crucial means by which a series of streets and building are transformed into a community which matters to those who are in it, and which has a distinct character which helps create the sense of locality that is necessary if citizens are to see themselves as liked to each other with shared obligations and responsibilities. . We believe that flowing from this conception of the sports club; we can say that a club is a cultural institution with social value, which operates in the sporting sphere that in turns exposes it to economic forces. We believe that he latter two of this triad has been recognised – even if only in acknowledging the tension between them – but that the former is a too-little understood and promoted phenomena. This is despite it being the bedrock of the sport sector, especially the spectator sports sector. This is because supporters view their clubs as means by which they negotiate and understand the history of their lives, their families and their community. Clubs are supported because of what they are much
  2. 2. 2 more than because of what they do, either in sporting of economic terms. Clubs are local monopolies; supporters cannot transfer their allegiance elsewhere. Newcastle United FC are the monopoly provider of Newcastle United to the supporters who view the club as an essential part of the life of their community. It follows from this that market mechanisms cannot be used by supporters to bring better outcomes by their clubs. However, in a great many members states and sports, sports governance was codified in the era before sports became mass spectator sports social terms and before they began to generate the kinds of economic wealth they now do. The tension between governance and the latter is increasingly recognised (not least in social dialogue) but the governing structures of sports overwhelmingly fail to recognise the existence of the ‘captive market’ of supporters who are excluded from decision-making and influence yet unable to withdraw their custom. Our approach is to support policies and procedures which better enable this dimension of the club to be reflected in the decision making. Too often in sport, decisions are made by clubs exclusively in pursuit of sporting success or economic expansion, with too little concern of the impact of both on either the sustainability of the club in economic terms of on the quality of the relationship between the club and the supporters as legitimate but excluded stakeholders. We believe that the mutual or co-operative business form and accompanying financial model is the most appropriately suited to balancing sports cultural, sporting and economic dimensions, and note that the European sports which have more co-operative forms of ownership suffer for greater supporter satisfaction, less financial instability and enhanced community engagement. 3. The TFEU and Sports Competence Supporters Direct strongly welcomes the EU Competence in the field of sport. We believe that increasingly, the tension between sports social and sporting function and its economic existence created questions of law and policy which were being dealt with on an ad hoc basis by bodies of law which were not designed for examining them. The new competence is a welcome step in the direction of treating sport with the specificity it needs and deserves. As mentioned in the White Paper on Sport, the emergence of new stakeholders is posing new questions as regards governance, democracy and representation of interests within the sport movement. The Commission regards responsible democratic representation of supporters as important to improve governance in sport and to reinforce the links between clubs and their local communities. 1 In this paper, we outline in this paper a series of actions the EU should focus on with regards the wider impact of supporter involvement. All are consistent with principles explicit in the Nice Declaration, the Independent European Sports Review and the White Paper on Sport. We note that through the process leading to this point, there has been widespread recognition of our work in the IESR and the White Paper. We also welcome the recognition by the EU Institutions of Supporters Direct’s work across Europe. Since the EU is liaising with Supporters Direct on good governance in sport, SD should in the future play a key role in helping to define the actions taken by the EU Institutions with regards the points outlined below. 1 http://ec.europa.eu/sport/what-we-do/doc63_en.htm
  3. 3. 3 A. Governance As stated in the accompanying document to the White Paper on Sport “a formalised involvement of supporters can reinforce the governance and financial stability of clubs. It can also lead to new partnerships with local authorities, businesses and communities, thus facilitating locally sustainable income to sport clubs.” The inclusion of supporters in the governance effectively brings a new perspective, analogous to that performed by independent directors in corporate environments. The supporter directors bring increased scrutiny and transparency onto the behaviour and performance of the board, especially when the club is established as a joint stock company. They can also ensure the strategic development of the club is aligned to the interests of the club and its stakeholders. As a socially orientated stakeholder business this is an essential control. The financial stability of clubs can be improved by the inclusion of democratically elected supporter directors with a clear remit to ensure the long term future of the club and ensure the club incorporates the needs of its wider stakeholders. Football clubs not only belong to the supporters but also to the wider community of their cities to which they contribute economically and socially. The financial turmoil of football clubs across Europe and the way football clubs are often run jeopardise these relationships significantly. The number of supporters’ organisations who seek to ensure that their football clubs have a secure and sustainable future as a business and a community-focused football club is growing and so is the demand for our services across Europe. Action: • The EU should play an active role in further encouraging the sharing of best practice in sport governance. It should also help to develop a common set of principles for good governance in sport, such as transparency, democracy and accountability, which has to include the principle of supporter representation. It should do so in full respect of the autonomy and diversity of sports considering the needs of all stakeholders. B. Promoting democracy in football through supporter involvement As already mentioned in the accompanying document to the White Paper on Sport “Supporters organisations often contribute to active citizenship, democracy, especially by reaching out to young people who are not always involve in civil society structures.” The inclusion of democratic supporter organisations at their football clubs increases participatory opportunities for stakeholders of the club generating meaningful contributions to the decision making process. Not only does this improve the governance structure and processes at the club but can also help to strengthen civil society and also prove beneficial to their communities. Democracy works best when it is the norm for citizens as opposed to an irregular opportunity to contribute and participate. In this way, greater participation in non-political or governmental fields supports greater participation in the formal mechanisms of European democracy. Effective democracy requires citizens to recognise their collective identity as citizens and to work together to find solutions that are based not on personal satisfaction, but accommodation and common interest. We believe that democratising football through supporter involvement will help citizens learn these (democratic) skills which will in turn help cement democracy within Europe.
  4. 4. 4 Action: • The EU should continue to address the democratic deficit in football, and help establish an arena to reinforce democratic values through supporter involvement in the decision-making at their clubs, but also through their involvement on other levels of the game as one of the major stakeholders. C. Ownership Many football clubs in Europe are run as limited companies without any form of supporter involvement enshrined in their governing document. In contrast professional football in Germany, members are an integral part of the governance of the clubs. The understanding of the varieties of ownership models in different members states have led to a desire amongst many supporters for clubs to better reflect their status as cultural institutions through being run as member associations on a non-profit basis, ensuring that all surpluses are recycled either into the club or its community. Action: • The EU Institutions should promote the benefits of more democratic ownership structures in football where the interests of the clubs, supporters and the clubs’ communities are more purposefully aligned. Establishing transparency, accountability and sustainability are part of the codex of football clubs. • There are already European legal forms for companies and co-operatives. We believe that the EU should provide for a sports club-company, which is a legal form permissible in every member state, whose statutes reflect the values of good governance and stakeholder integration. They would also incorporate community orientated objectives to ensure wider objectives are pursued. Such a body would be a useful identifier for specific status of national or pan-EU benefits (especially in respect of taxation) but would be conditional on the annual satisfaction of continued fidelity to the founding objectives of the institution. • The EU should also explore ways of promoting supporter-cooperatives which own sports clubs as part of the United Nations International year of the Co-operative in ownership in 2012. D. Social value of sport The EU recognises the special nature of sport, its potential to promote community identity and integration. Football clubs make claim to their social significance both on an individual and industry wide basis. Research recently commissioned and recently completed by Supporters Direct confirms this position, demonstrating both intrinsic and instrumental value 2 . The value produced is not just from the community outreach and the way it considers its community in its business activity but it can help people feel part of a locality and generate local pride. A sense of community can be derived from the club. However the research also suggested that insufficient measuring or reporting of their impact is conducted. Neither the football authorities within England nor the UEFA require any level of social reporting. 2 http://www.supporters-direct.org/downloads/sdr_report_10a.pdf
  5. 5. 5 The implementation of social reporting requirements can provide many positive benefits. It can help demonstrate the industries social significance. In addition it can identify exactly how and what the value is and be used to enhance it by targeted measures and activities. Action: • For the European Commission to fund research to create an evidence base of the social importance of football in Europe. As part of the research encouragement should be given for football and sport in general to evidence their social function and significance. • Furthermore, provision should be made for a requirement to be made by national sports authorities for football clubs to report their social impacts. E. Volunteering Volunteers make an incredible contribution to sport, from community based to professional and elite based. The majority of supporter involvement at elite football clubs is voluntary, be it for the day to day operation of the club or within its governance structure as a director. Supporters are the major long-term ‘cultural investors’ in spectator sports, a huge force of (potential) volunteers and active citizens who should not be sidelined but should be represented and actively involved in the governance of the clubs they support. Among the main challenges for volunteer run supporter organisations are the lack of funding and recognition and the lack of cooperation with national governments and other stakeholders. Supporters Direct has taken a lead role in encouraging supporters to volunteers at their club, in building capacity of supporter volunteers and making the case for the recognition as valued partners of the club. They should be acknowledged as a valuable contribution to society, enhancing community cohesion and increasing social capital through the use of the club as a hub of community life. Action: • Since 2011 will be the year of volunteering this will be an opportunity to promote volunteering and voluntary organisations across Member States. EU Institutions should raise awareness and promote the general importance of volunteering in sport to improve the collaboration and cooperation between volunteer organisations, governments and other stakeholders and reducing legal and financial obstacles for voluntary activities. • The EU should provide networking opportunities to share and exchange good practices within the supporter volunteer network. • It should recognise the work of Supporters Direct in encouraging the exchanges of ideas and practice between supporters’ groups in different countries and in actively promoting the utilisation of supporter volunteer at their respective clubs.
  6. 6. 6 F. Funding Linked to supporting volunteers must be a recognition that most successful volunteering efforts are supported by resources groups of individuals who work maximise the utility of volunteers-time. A major impediment to volunteering is a feeling that the time freely given is being undermined by inefficiency caused by lack of co-ordination. Action: • We suggest a special sports-funding programme, which takes into account the special nature of sport and in particular supporters as identified stakeholders. • Funding options should be considered in particular for projects and organisations who improve the governance, democracy and participation in the game and their communities, and that for a relatively small financial commitment, groups can become much more active and therefore successful in becoming established participants. However, given the existence of other commitments, without resource support for coordinating their work, they struggle with stop-start periods of activity. • It should consider the merits of providing financial support to encourage cultural exchange between supporter groups throughout the EU. G. Licensing The European Commission has acknowledged the importance of self-regulatory licensing systems for clubs and has been active to facilitate a platform to exchange knowledge and experience including all stakeholders. UEFA have approved the new UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, which will come fully into force after a phased implementation over three years – 2010, 2011 and 2012. Supporters Direct welcome the approval of UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair play measures aiming to improve the governance of the game and the EUs support in this. Action: • The institutions should focus on promoting as well as encouraging the use of and compliance with licensing systems. • We also suggest promoting the implementation of social accounting and fan representation in sports licensing (see section above on social value). H. Dialogue Structured Dialogue Article 165 TFEU explicitly calls for the promotion and cooperation between bodies responsible in sports. Action: • The dialogue between the EU and sport’s stakeholders should underscore the centrality of supporters by formalising the inclusion of representative supporter bodies in the structured dialogue.
  7. 7. 7 Social dialogue Since 2008 a sectoral European social dialogue committee has operated in the field of professional sport, made up of representatives of UEFA, FifPro, ECA and EPFL discussing minor issues about player contracts. Action: • Sport’s economic function leads to the social dialogue between the workers and employers, and the sporting dimension is recognised by the inclusion of UEFA as lead body for football. However, the cultural function must be addressed through the inclusion of supporters as actors with a legitimate interest in the issues and outputs of the social dialogue process. • The social dialogue committee should extend their field of responsibility and should address other topics such as how to improve the governance of the game. • We believe that following recognition of sport’s function as a cultural institution functioning in the sporting and economic sphere that supporters must be included in this dialogue. I. Prevention of and fight against discrimination and violence There is evidence that where club-supporter relations are characterised by violence in the stadium, the development of a sense of involvement and ownership can enhance the more responsible and constructive tendency amongst fans to make a positive impact in terms of reducing violence. In our experience, fan cultures characterised by greater violence are often polarized between an individualized and atomized mass fan-base and a vocal minority actively organised. Until the former can be presented by organised groups, the views and opinions of this strain is neglected, leading to the problem of supporter-club relations being dominated by security issues and repressive action by law enforcement authorities. Whilst football-linked violence is a complex phenomenon, in the long-term, building a sense of involvement and ownership is a crucial step to bringing responsibility. In short, people are less likely to be violent in their own house; where supporters have been excluded, there is a tendency to view the club as a separate body able to ‘absorb’ the consequences of their misdeeds and thus reinforce the sense of irresponsibility. This approach was acknowledged in the White Paper the Commission that said that “(…) a formalised partnership with supporters can be a way of supporting actions against violence, racism and xenophobia in sport.” Action: • We suggest the EU Institutions further promote the positive impacts fan involvement can have on society as a whole, since discrimination and violence are no isolated football matters but need to be treated as matters of society as a whole.
  8. 8. 8 Summary of the actions recommended by Supporters Direct regarding the implementation of the new Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on Sport A. Governance The EU should play an active role in further encouraging the sharing of best practice in sport governance. It should also help to develop a common set of principles for good governance in sport, such as transparency, democracy and accountability, which has to include the principle of supporter representation. It should do so in full respect of the autonomy and diversity of sports considering the needs of all stakeholders. B. Promoting democracy in football through supporter involvement The EU should continue to address the democratic deficit in football, and help establish an arena to reinforce democratic values through supporter involvement in the decision-making at their clubs, but also through their involvement on other levels of the game as one of the major stakeholders. C. Ownership The EU Institutions should promote the benefits of more democratic ownership structures in football where the interests of the clubs, supporters and the clubs’ communities are more purposefully aligned. Establishing transparency, accountability and sustainability are part of the codex of football clubs. There are already European legal forms for companies and co-operatives. We believe that the EU should provide for a sports club-company, which is a legal form permissible in every member state, whose statutes reflect the values of good governance and stakeholder integration. They would also incorporate community orientated objectives to ensure wider objectives are pursued. Such a body would be a useful identifier for specific status of national or pan-EU benefits (especially in respect of taxation) but would be conditional on the annual satisfaction of continued fidelity to the founding objectives of the institution. The EU should also explore ways of promoting supporter-cooperatives which own sports clubs as part of the United Nations International year of the Co-operative in ownership in 2012. D. Social value of sport For the European Commission to fund research to create an evidence base of the social importance of football in Europe. As part of the research encouragement should be given for football and sport in general to evidence their social function and significance. Furthermore, provision should be made for a requirement to be made by national sports authorities for football clubs to report their social impacts. E. Volunteering Since 2011 will be the year of volunteering this will be an opportunity to promote volunteering and voluntary organisations across Member States. EU Institutions should raise awareness and promote the general importance of volunteering in sport to improve the collaboration and cooperation between volunteer organisations, governments and other stakeholders and reducing legal and financial obstacles for voluntary activities. The EU should provide networking opportunities to share and exchange good practices within the supporter volunteer network. It should recognise the work of Supporters Direct in encouraging the exchanges of ideas and practice between supporters’ groups in different countries and in actively promoting the utilisation of supporter volunteer at their respective clubs.
  9. 9. 9 F. Funding We suggest a special sports-funding programme, which takes into account the special nature of sport and in particular supporters as identified stakeholders. Funding options should be considered in particular for projects and organisations who improve the governance, democracy and participation in the game and their communities, and that for a relatively small financial commitment, groups can become much more active and therefore successful in becoming established participants. However, given the existence of other commitments, without resource support for coordinating their work, they struggle with stop-start periods of activity. It should consider the merits of providing financial support to encourage cultural exchange between supporter groups throughout the EU. G. Licensing The institutions should focus on promoting as well as encouraging the use of and compliance with licensing systems. We also suggest promoting the implementation of social accounting and fan representation in sports licensing (see section above on social value). H. Dialogue Structured Dialogue The dialogue between the EU and sport’s stakeholders should underscore the centrality of supporters by formalising the inclusion of representative supporter bodies in the structured dialogue. Social dialogue Sport’s economic function leads to the social dialogue between the workers and employers, and the sporting dimension is recognised by the inclusion of UEFA as lead body for football. However, the cultural function must be addressed through the inclusion of supporters as actors with a legitimate interest in the issues and outputs of the social dialogue process. The social dialogue committee should extend their field of responsibility and should address other topics such as how to improve the governance of the game. We believe that following recognition of sport’s function as a cultural institution functioning in the sporting and economic sphere that supporters must be included in this dialogue. I. Prevention of and fight against discrimination and violence We suggest the EU Institutions further promote the positive impacts fan involvement can have on society as a whole, since discrimination and violence are no isolated football matters but need to be treated as matters of society as a whole.

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