SD Europe’s ‘Fans Matter!’ project brings supporters organisations, member-run football clubs and national football associations together on a new collaborative project.
National/continental fan organisations, national football associations and member-run clubs from nine countries, spreading across three continents, will be involved in a series of training workshops and exchange visits, with the goal of improving the resources available to member-run football clubs and supporter organisations that are involved in the management of clubs.
The Need For Fans Matter!
This project is geared to meet the need in the growing number of member-run football clubs and supporter organisations across and beyond Europe that are involved in the decision-making process at club level and who are faced with challenges around club management. With supporters and national associations collaborating together directly, the project also aims to strengthen the working relationship between fans and those who run the game.
In a market as competitive as modern football, where the gap between the big and the medium and small size clubs is increasing, clubs that are focused and dependent on their communities need to be supported or they will become obsolete.
Democratically run clubs are different. They are held accountable by their community, which means they often better adhere to good governance principles. This is something to be celebrated and supported. However, these clubs also face unusual challenges. They compete with clubs who are better resourced, in leagues where laws, rules and regulations often do not favour fully transparent socially-focused clubs and where shareholders and board members are often not held accountable for their actions to full extent.
Amateur and grassroots clubs struggle the most. They often don’t receive sufficient or specialised support from their governing body and they are highly dependent on volunteers and self-motivation in order to survive. But even professional clubs with an indisputably adequate level of internal capacity and long-established democratic processes can get side-tracked and lose their connection with the community to the benefit of individuals. Others simply fail to modernise and adjust their internal processes to meet the demands of the rapidly changing football environment.
In order to sustain a club and compete on an equal footing in these circumstances, fans who set up new clubs or are involved in the management of clubs need skills and expertise that will help them understand and meet the challenges faced by democratically run clubs.
Why is the project called “fans matter?”
Few will argue against the statement that football fans are the lifeblood of the game. Often at the elite level, this is figurative and said symbolically as supporters have limited influence. In the case of member-run football clubs, this is quite literally the case. Across the continent and further fans give their time, expertise and money to help run their football clubs quite simply because they are theirs as equal members or owners.
Fans matter throughout football without question, however to member-run clubs, they are vital because not only do they cheer their team on from the sidelines, but they are making decisions as voting members at the AGM, Board Members, volunteers, fundraisers and much more. This project aims to equip fans involved in keeping member-run clubs in business with the tools and knowledge they need, whilst strengthening fans’ relationships and a mutual appreciation between them and football’s governing bodies.
Hence the name, “Fans Matter!”.
For enquiries about Fans Matter! please get in touch via the Contact Us page.