Last weekend, Alasdair, Paul, and I attended the Supporters Summit, an annual event, organised and hosted by Supporters Direct (SD) and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) that brings fans and trusts together to discuss the game’s most pressing issues.
This year’s summit took place at St George’s Park in the elegant confines of the Hilton Hotel and as ever, it proved to be a thoroughly engaging, informative, and worthwhile affair.
The first day kicked off with a panel on ‘Clubs in Crisis’ - listening to representatives from the Sky Blues Trust, Leyton Orient Fan’s Trust, and Blackpool Supporters Trust talk about the alleged damage wrought by their respective owners which was, as you might imagine, a sobering experience.
But it was an inspiring one, too, because it highlighted the determination and ingenuity shown by ordinary supporters in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
In the afternoon, delegates had their pick of a number of workshops, with topics ranging from ‘Structured Dialogue’ to ‘Video Assisted Refereeing’.
I opted for the former, as did the club’s Supporter Liaison Officer, Nathan Hosker, while Paul chose the latter.
Alasdair, meanwhile, decided to make his way to the delightfully named Executive Drum for a seminar on ‘Away Ticket Pricing in the EFL’.
I’m not sure whether he was feeling nostalgic, disoriented, fraternal, or a combination of all three, but he seemed to enjoy himself, and in the end, that’s all that matters.
After a short break, we reconvened in the Ballroom to listen to the inimitable David Conn speak about the campaign to deliver justice for the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, the often-maligned influence of money on modern football, and pretty much everything else inbetween.
Not surprisingly, the consensus in the room was that Conn is as eloquent and incisive in person as he is in prose.
During the evening, we joined a guided tour of St George’s Park, before meeting with the FSF and members of other Premier League trusts to review the season just past and consider the one that’s nearly upon us.
For the most part, the issues that we discussed were familiar ones — ticket pricing, safe standing, and so on — but it’s clear that the impact of Sky Sports on the Premier League fixture schedule is on a different order of magnitude to what we’ve previously experienced in the Championship and League One, and this is something we intend to examine at the next Huddersfield Town Supporters Association Board meeting.
Which, by the way, will touch upon several of the themes and subjects raised by the SD and FSF AGM’s, which were held on the Sunday.
In addition to the usual discussions on finance and governance, both meetings generated their fair share of noteworthy motions and debates.
SD’s shareholders, including HTSA, voted to incorporate Supporters Direct Scotland as a separate body and elect Katrina Law as the second supporter representative on the FA Council. We also placed on record our thanks to the outgoing Chair, Brian Burgess.
The FSF’s members - again, including our good selves, were just as productive, approving proposals calling for the introduction of a more robust club licensing system, a boycott of The Sun newspaper, and further regulation of the behaviour and activities of players’ agents, amongst other things.
Not bad for a bunch of volunteers, huh?
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