Football means so much to people in our area.
Support is passed down from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters, and football clubs like Kidderminster Harriers are one of the institutions that give local people a sense of belonging and community.
But too often fans are treated like an after-thought when, for example, ticket prices are hiked-up. The BBC’s recent Price of Football survey showed how average prices have risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011. It’s clear we’ve now reached a tipping point in the way football is run.
Fans have no power, no say and no voice in how their clubs are run. Fans stick with their club through thick and thin whilst owners come and go, with no one to hold them accountable if they want to change the colour of the strip or the name of the club.
And in a world where the rewards are astronomical – for owners, managers and players – who is representing the interests of the club and those supporters who pay to walk through the turnstiles week in, week out?
We will consult fans on how they can come together to form a single accredited trust, for the election of their representatives onto club boardroom so that they have a voice over the things that really matters to fans. For some it will be ticket prices, for others shirt sponsorship.
That is why Labour is committed to having football fans on the boards of clubs. Fans will not be sitting on boards as a dominating force but they will be empowered to elect a quarter of the board, through their independent supporter trusts like the fantastic Kidderminster Harriers Independent Supporters Society.
When a club changes ownership, the supporter trusts should have first choice in buying ten per cent of the shares bought. That way they can hold their club to account when the board are selling off assets, which has happened too much in the past decade.
Labour has listened to the views of fans of Kidderminster Harriers, as well as 94 other supporters’ organisations, and we want to ensure they are heard by the owners of the clubs too. Our plan is to give fans a real stake in their clubs and the opportunity to hold the boards of directors to account.
Labour believes in sharing power and responsibility with people, and giving football fans a voice in their club’s boardroom is part of our plan to change our country for the better.
Matt Lamb, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.