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HTSA: How Supporters Direct is putting the power back in the hands of fans

The Huddersfield Town Supporters Association interview Supporters Direct's Nicola Hudson

Town fans at the John Smith's Stadium

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of interviews with representatives from national and continental supporters’ organisations.

This week, James Chisem spoke to Nicola Hudson from Supporters Direct (SD).

First off, can you tell us a bit about Supporters Direct?

"Supporters Direct has been working since 2000 to help supporters gain influence in the running and ownership of their clubs.

"Since our formation, we have helped establish over 200 supporters trusts in the UK, with more than 50 now owning and running their club. Many others have meaningful involvement through board representation, structured dialogue or campaigning.

"Over the years our members have raised more than £50m to be reinvested back into their clubs and communities including £6m through community shares projects; an area where we are market leaders.

"We use our unique position to develop policies and research to help improve sport, working to the mission statement; To promote good governance in sport and enable the development of sustainable clubs based on supporters’ involvement and community ownership."

What issues and campaigns do SD focus on?

"SD mainly focuses on governance and regulatory issues across a variety of sports.

"An example of the work that we have been involved with recently would be the government Expert Working Group report on football supporter ownership and engagement which SD and our members contributed to, leading to the introduction of structured dialogue rules in the EFL and Premier League. This states clubs must meet with a representative group of supporters (to include the supporters trust) twice a year to discuss higher level topics such as finance, strategy and ownership.

"We work on projects that help empower supporters and bring good governance to the fore in the game."

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We’ve heard a lot about clubs in crisis recently, with Blackpool, Coventry, Charlton, and Leyton Orient dominating the headlines - are the Football Association, Premier League, and Football League doing enough to protect football clubs from predatory and negligent owners?

"We recently teamed up with SKINS for a series of #FansNotNumbers regulatory reform roadshows looking at just this issue.

"Clubs like Blackpool, Leyton Orient and Leeds have filled column inches for the wrong reasons over the last few years with fans often feeling shut out, exploited and taken for a ride by negligent owners.

"We see the problem being the FA delegating too much of its power so that it can no longer effectively perform its role of overseeing and regulating the English game.

"The focus of the #FansNotNumbers roadshows was that Supporters Direct and SKINS believe it is time for football to have an independent regulatory body. One that cannot only set but, crucially, can enforce off-pitch regulation."

What would you say is SD’s biggest achievement over the past decade or so?

"It’s difficult to single out one achievement to focus on when there have been so many 'wins' to celebrate over the years.

"Every club, no matter at what level of the pyramid, saved by our Club Development arm through the hard work of our dedicated staff and consultants is worthy of fanfare, and every group of fans we help to get their voices heard by the relevant powers is a victory.

"Honing the ability to help empower supporters to have a real say in the clubs they love and affecting real change in the governance of sport is something we are very proud of."

How can people get involved with SD?

"You can sign up to our brand-new hub at supporters-direct.org to get all the latest news from us. Please follow us on Twitter (@SuppDirect) and Facebook (/Suppdirect) and subscribe to our Youtube channel (/SuppDirect).

"Our members elect representatives to our councils and board and there are places available to stand for each year, so keep your eyes peeled for our next election announcement."

You can also get directly involved with HTSA.

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