Supporters Direct Scotland (SDS) today gave its cautious support to the decision to approve amendments to the Community Empowerment Bill, extending the act to allow football fans the opportunity to buy their clubs.
The amendments were unanimously agreed by Holyrood’s Local Government Committee after proposals were tabled by Greens MSP Alison Johnstone, a long-term proponent of greater supporter involvement in the governance of the football.
SDS welcome the principle of these amendments, whilst recognising a number of practical difficulties in implementing such proposals through legislation.
At present, there is no legislation in Scotland that affords supporters the opportunity to bid for their club or ownership of their club’s stadium. In England, the Localism Act allows grounds to be listed as an Asset of Community Value and allows supporters the chance to table a bid for designated stadia, appreciating the important part that clubs play within local communities.
Supporters Direct Scotland supports any measure that gives greater influence and power to football fans in the running of their clubs. SDS believes that supporters have a significant role to play in ensuring a successful, long-term future for the game in Scotland.
Andrew Jenkin, Head of Supporters Direct Scotland said: “”Supporters Direct Scotland was set up to support fan ownership of Scottish clubs, and we believe a well-constructed right to buy could be a game-changer for Scottish football. We welcome the decision of the committee today in agreeing unanimously to these proposals and congratulate Alison Johnstone on her continued work on supporter involvement in Scottish football.
Using our considerable expertise and experience in this area we stand ready to help the Scottish Football Association, the Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Government to further empower football fans in Scotland in the running of their clubs and ensuring a long-term future in Scotland.”
Scottish football currently has three SPFL clubs where supporters are the majority shareholders; Stirling Albion, Clyde and East Stirlingshire (with a number of other supporter groups holding significant shareholdings in their clubs) and SDS believes that these measures will help in providing supporters groups with the means to increase this number and see more clubs in the hands of football fans across Scotland.
Research conducted by Supporters Direct Scotland shows fans are supportive of greater community involvement in the game with 93% of participants in the National Football Survey believing fans should be represented at club board level and 91% believing the community ownership model can work in Scotland.