News Sky Blues fi­asco in­spires Labour’s plans to set up sup­port­ers’ trusts

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

COVEN­TRY City’s de­cline is the ma­jor driv­ing force be­hind the Labour Party’s pledge to give fans greater con­trol of their clubs.

The Labour Party wants to see greater sup­porter con­trol of foot­ball clubs and have promised to in­tro­duce pow­ers for sup­port­ers’ trusts to ap­point and re­move di­rec­tors, and pur­chase shares.

It has said it will in­tro­duce the new pow­ers if the party is elected and Jeremy Cor­byn be­comes Prime Min­is­ter af­ter the Gen­eral Elec­tion on June 8.

Coven­try North West Labour par­li­men­tary can­di­date Ge­of­frey Robin­son, a for­mer CCFC chair­man, has in­di­cated the pol­icy was heav­ily driven by the sit­u­a­tion at the Sky Blues.

Un­der the ten­ure of Lon­don hedge fund Sisu, the club has dropped to the bot­tom tier of English foot­ball from the sec­ond in just nine years.

The group of anony­mous in­vestors is headed up by Der­mot Cole­man and Joy Sep­pala.

Un­der Sisu’s watch the club also faces uncer­tainty over its abil­ity to re­main in Coven­try with no deal to play at the Ri­coh Arena be­yond next sea­son.

The club’s Academy cur­rently has nowhere to play be­yond next month and there are also ques­tion marks over the fu­ture of the CCFC’s Ry­ton train­ing ground, which has been listed as a pos­si­ble lo­ca­tion for hous­ing. Labour want to in­tro­duce: Five per cent of Premier League tele­vi­sion in­come must go into grass­roots foot­ball.

Ac­cred­ited Sup­port­ers’ Trusts would be able to ap­point and re­move at least two club di­rec­tors.

Fans would be able to pur­chase shares when clubs change hands. Im­prove­ments to dis­abled ac­cess.

Strong reg­u­la­tion of tick­et­ing to avoid prob­lems with tout­ing.

Ge­of­frey Robin­son has in­di­cated that the pol­icy was heav­ily in­flu­enced by events at Coven­try City, Cardiff City, Hull City, Portsmouth, Leeds United and Birmingham City.

He said: “Foot­ball clubs are part of peo­ple’s iden­tity and sense of be­long­ing. Our plan is to give fans a stake in their clubs.”

“Sport must be run in the in­ter­ests of those who par­tic­i­pate in it and love it.

“We all re­mem­ber that day 30 years ago with a quar­ter of a mil­lion peo­ple on the streets cel­e­brat­ing. But we all know that Coven­try City fans face life play­ing against For­rest Green Rovers in the fourth tier of English Foot­ball.

“Foot­ball clubs need to be an­chored with in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

On fan own­er­ship, Mr Robin­son said: “There are many ex­am­ples of clubs across Bri­tain, con­trolled by trusts Ex­eter City, AFC Wim­ble­don, Wy­combe Wan­der­ers, Wrex­ham, AFC Telford United, Ch­ester FC.

“Even Real Madrid and Barcelona in­clude their sup­port­ers in board­room de­ci­sions. We are open to dis­cus­sion as to how the fu­ture looks but what we do know is the cur­rent model of foot­ball club own­er­ship is fun­da­men­tally flawed and needs fix­ing.

“The Labour Party has lis­tened to the views of fans about chang­ing the way foot­ball is run in Eng­land and Wales. And we want to en­sure they are heard by the own­ers of the clubs too.

“Labour be­lieves in shar­ing power and re­spon­si­bil­ity with peo­ple, and giv­ing foot­ball fans a voice is part of our plan to change our coun­try by de­volv­ing power to our cities, towns and com­mu­ni­ties.”

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