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Football Supporter Ownership

Volume 600: debated on Thursday 22 October 2015

4. When he expects the expert working group on football supporter ownership and engagement to report. (901725)

The expert working group was set up a year ago yesterday and I expect its report, with a strong set of recommendations, by the end of November.

It is four years since the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport reported on football governance, requesting changes from the FA, Premier League and the Football League, but we still have not seen those changes come through. Will the Government now consider legislation on supporter ownership?

I know that the hon. Lady is a keen football fan and has worked closely with the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, and I know that this issue is very important to her and to her Magpies-supporting constituents. The working group’s report will be published next month and I expect it to contain strong recommendations. We will consider those recommendations when they are given to me next month.

It is five years since the Government stated that they would make changes on fan ownership. Since then, we have had two Select Committee reports and, after four years of waiting, the Government finally set up the expert working group, the report from which is imminent. Does the Minister agree that it is time for bona fide fan groups to be given the right to elect and remove representatives on club boards and the right to buy shares in their clubs? For too long those with vested interests have been allowed to stand in the way of progress on these issues and we must not miss the opportunity that the expert working group offers us.

We all share the view that football fans are the lifeblood of the club they support and many people feel frustration about club ownership. I have been pleased with the level of engagement with the supporters’ representatives group and I am confident that the final report will provide a structured approach for greater collaboration between clubs and fans. That might well include some of the issues that the hon. Gentleman has raised. The working group report will be published next month and before his ten-minute rule Bill comes before the House in December. I hope that he will look at the report and support us in implementing the recommendations.