Supporters Direct are an umbrella organisation set up originally by the Government (with cross-party support) to provide support and assistance for its member trusts to secure greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs and within the games governing structures. More recently, Supporters Direct has begun the same representation for other sports, most notably
Amongst other things, Supporters Direct provides advice to
supporters' trusts on how to organise and acquire a collective shareholding in their football and rugby leagueclubs on a not-for-profit basis for re-investment. However, a supporters' trust having a shareholding in their club can at times be controversial, such as Wednesdayite's (Sheffield Wednesday supporters' trust) shareholding which has caused controversy amongst the football club board and subsequently sections of the teams' supporterscite web|title=BBC News - Owls chief angry as buy-out fails|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/s/sheff_wed/6908681.stm|accessdate=2008-07-22] .
Existing as an Industrial and Provident Society, Supporters Direct is owned by its members, and funded by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund - the partner organisation of the Football Foundation - and in Scotland by the Scottish Government.
Supporters Direct deliver advice and guidance on governance and financial accountability to its members and to play a valued and responsible role in the running of their clubs, improving communication and building a better relationship with the local community.
Mission Statement & Key Objectives
Supporters Direct mission statementcite web|title=Supporters Direct Mission and History|url=http://supporters-direct.org/page.asp?p=1988|accessdate=2008-07-22] :
“Through establishing supporters’ trusts, our aim is to deliver responsible, democratic representation at football clubs to help promote the highest standards of governance, financial accountability and community re-orientation.”
Key objectives of Supporters Direct are stated as followscite web|title=Supporters Direct Mission and History|url=http://supporters-direct.org/page.asp?p=1988|accessdate=2007-07-22] :
* Promote the responsible voice of supporters in the running of sports clubs through securing democratic representation.
* Deliver advice and guidance on corporate governance and financial accountability to trusts that have secured board representation, ownership or control of their local club.
* Influence or change ownership structures so that the Club, supporters and local community share the same purpose.
* Promote the use of sports and other facilities of professional sports clubs by their local community and to create community activities in order to cement their position as a focus for civic and community life.
* Raise the standard of training, expertise and service delivery to the volunteer membership base of trusts.
* Deliver an improved level of succession planning for trusts with a substantial share ownership through identifying the necessary expertise, local fundraising and investment opportunities and providing by improved levels of governance.
* Build on the success of Supporters Direct to provide the opportunity for trusts to help re-orientate clubs into becoming community hubs/delivery partners. This can equally apply to clubs in trust ownership/control or trusts working in partnership with clubs in private ownership.
Facts and Figures
Arguably, the Trust movement has grown considerably since the introduction of Supporters Direct as the following facts and figures presentcite web|title=Supporters Direct Headline Achievments|url=http://supporters-direct.org/page.asp?p=2225|accessdate=2008-07-22] :
Supporters' trusts have now been established at over 140 clubs.
* Membership: Over 120,000 people are members of Supporters' trusts.
* Finance: Supporters' trusts have now brought in well over £20 million of new finance into football.
* Ownership: 13 clubs are in ownership by Supporters' trusts, including the World’s oldest professional club, Notts County.
* Partnership: 100 Supporters' trusts now have shareholdings in their clubs.
* Boardroom: 45 Supporters' trusts have directors. Over 40% of these are directly elected by the membership of the trust.
* Reach: Supporters of nearly 70% of clubs in the top five divisions of football in England, and the top four divisions in Scotland have established Supporters trusts.
* Community: Reorientating football clubs to deliver active community engagement.
upporters Direct Cup
Supporters Direct also sponsor The Supporters Direct Cup which is an annual pre-season trophy competed for by supporter-owned clubs.
Supporters Direct Cup
* [http://www.supporters-direct.org Supporters Direct Website]
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