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York at forefront of the trust movement
York at forefront of the trust movement

Survey of clubs and trusts

The findings of the State of the Game report has confirmed Citys Trust as being at the forefront of the growing influence of the supporters trust movement in British Football.

Within the past few weeks, the Football Governance Research Centre has published the 3rd of their annual surveys of corporate governance of professional football clubs. The report focuses on:
i) Governance by footballs regulatory bodies;
ii) The role of footballs stakeholders;
iii) The corporate governance of football clubs; and
iv) The role and governance of supporters trusts.

The analysis is based on an extensive survey of football clubs and trusts. Citys Supporters Trust completed a questionnaire and was one of 50 trusts (out of around 100) who contributed towards the report. The report also includes contributions from Gordon Taylor (Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association) and from The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP (Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport).

The report confirms Citys Trust as one of only four that holds a majority shareholding in their professional football club, the others being at Chesterfield, Exeter and Lincoln. In addition, the trust at AFC Wimbledon have majority ownership of their club.

The report highlights the spectacular growth of the trust movement in recent years:
- Since the establishment of Supporters Direct in September 2000, when only 6 supporters trust existed, a further 96 have since been established throughout the football pyramid;
- Average membership of supporters trusts has grown from 337 per organisation in 2001 to 605 in 2003. Citys Trust has almost 2,000 current members, well above the average;
- Aggregate membership of trusts is now around 66,000;
- If expressed as a percentage of the home gate, average trust membership is 19%. However, at York, Trust membership is impressively equivalent to around two-thirds of the Bootham Crescent home gate.
- During the past couple of years, the survey identified that supporters trusts had raised around 5 million of funds. Fundraising of 1/2 million by Citys Trust represents around 10% of that total.

Other findings of interest include:
- Trusts have established links and relationships with a wide range of community groups and stakeholders in their club 55% of trusts had links with local businesses, 47% with their local authority and 57% with their local MP. A further 29% and 26% had links with local schools and disabled groups respectively.
- The survey found that clubs are not making full use of the funding streams available to them for community and facility initiatives;
- Clubs would like advice on a range of issues, in particular, fundraising and social inclusion initiatives

Overall, the results of the survey indicate that the supporters trust movement has widened share ownership, increased investment in clubs, opened up new revenue streams and provided an effective voice for stakeholders. All of these factors help contribute to the improved governance and financial performance of clubs.

Last month, Citys Trust was awarded the Trust of the Season title for 2003 following its achievements including the completion of the Rescue Package in March 2003.

Many City fans will find the final conclusion of the State of the Game report particularly pertinent. It reads:
Real and active engagement with stakeholders, and in particular with supporters and the local community, is what is needed. This is the best way of securing the long term viability of clubs, building the supporter base and reaching new sections of their local communities.

For the clubs this can be seen as a market opportunity. For the communities such activities can play an important part in bringing people together. For local authorities joint ventures between clubs and trusts can help in the delivery of policies to tackle racism, social exclusion and possibly in economic regeneration.

And for the supporters it can ensure that their football club is successful and sustainable and, above all, is seen to be neither a vehicle to boost an individual owners ego nor to line anyones pockets, but is instead a genuine community asset and football club.


For further information about FGRC and to obtain copies of the report, visit www.football-research.bbk.ac.uk

 
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