Supporters Boards FAQ

Supporters Boards FAQ

What is a supporters board at a football club?

A supporters board (SB) may also be referred to as a supporters advisory board, a fan advisory board or a shadow board.

An SB is an organisation, composed of supporters, who represent the interests of the club’s supporters. An SB is completely independent of the club but works in conjunction with the club’s board for mutual benefit. The emphasis is on good governance, strategy and financial stability.

The Premier League will, in the near future, require all its member clubs to have a fan advisory board, irrespective of legislation.

Why are supporters boards required?

The proposal to form a European Super League and insolvency problems at several clubs (such as Bury FC and Derby County) have shown that fans are often neglected in the plans for the future of the game in England.

Tracey Crouch MP chaired the Fan-led Review into English Football Governance which was published in November 2021 and the Government gave its response in April 2022.

The review was broadly accepted by the Government and it is expected that there will be new legislation and the creation of a new regulator, The Independent Regulator of English Football (IREF).

A key recommendation was that clubs should engage and consult with fans, a supporters board being the best way of achieving this, although the government responded that SBs would not be appropriate at all levels of the football pyramid.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) are backing the formation of SBs. An IREF would require minimum standards of fan engagement for all licensed clubs.

What would be the value of a supporters board?

An SB will provide a platform for fans to have a say in the decision-making processes at the club.

An SB will provide better communication between a club and its supporters. This will help the club make decisions which are in the interests of its supporters.

An SB will increase transparency, providing a platform for open discussion and sharing of information. Trust will build between parties and promote a positive relationship.

An SB will be a mechanism for fans to promote positive changes within the club.

An SB will promote a more inclusive and democratic culture to benefit supporters and the club.

An SB would allow the club to tap into the great resource of expertise in its fanbase, free of charge.

Can a supporters board improve inclusivity, diversity and equality (IDE)?

Yes. An SB will ensure that a wide range of voices are heard. Different demographics will be represented, such as by gender, race, age, disability and sexual orientation.

Can a supporters board help to ensure that a club doesn’t run into financial difficulties?

Yes. With confidentiality agreements, an SB can keep track of a club’s financial performance regarding budget, profit & loss, liquidity, revenues, expenses, debts, loans, capital expenditure etc, so that problems are highlighted and action can be taken where appropriate.

An SB would promote responsible ownership to ensure that owners are committed to the club’s long-term financial stability.

An SB will encourage supporters to improve revenues by attending matches, subscribing to online match streaming, buying merchandise etc.

What skills are required for supporters board members?

Members of an SB must be passionate about the club and be prepared to spend the necessary time to perform the role. They must be able to work collaboratively in a team and be able to listen to and consider the views of other board members and stakeholders. There will be criteria to ensure that SB members are fit and proper for the role.

Other skills required are listed below but are not required by all members:

Communicate effectively with other SB members, the club’s management and supporters. This may involve preparation and delivery of presentations and engaging in discussions and meetings.

Show democratic leadership to represent the interests of supporters and obtain the best outcomes for the club.

Think strategically in the short, medium and long terms about the club’s plans and ambitions, to aid the decision-making process.

Have financial knowledge to analyse the state of the club’s finances and budgeting in relation to strategy.

Have problem-solving and analytical skills to address strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Have legal expertise in relation to relevant legislation affecting supporters and the club.

It may not be necessary to have specific skills if a person has a well-rounded contribution to make.
Some members would represent the interests of inclusivity, diversity and equality.

How would a supporters board be selected?

Any supporters who meet basic criteria will have a democratic opportunity to become a member of an SB.

The club will have no say in the selection of SB members.

The selection mechanism is unknown at present, but two options are:

  1. Any supporter could put themselves forward for election by the fanbase. There may be some issues with this such as defining the electorate, and the level of organisation and resources required.
  2. Nomination of members by supporters’ groups which meet certain criteria and further co-option of members to reach the skills requirements and the needs of inclusivity, diversity and equality. This would be a more indirect route to SB membership.

Could a section of the fanbase dominate the supporters board?

The SB would be designed to represent a wide cross-section of the fanbase.

Will a supporters board be involved in football matters?


How would a supporters board operate?

The way that an SB would operate would evolve over time but there would be a written constitution, a written code of conduct, a secretariat and regular meetings with club executives.

The terms of operation of the SB will be agreed with the club and enshrined in its governance.

The SB would elect its own chair and vice-chair for periods of office. There would be annual rotation of some SB members and maximum terms of office.

How can football supporters interact with a supporters board?

The SB can hold regular open meetings to hear supporters’ views.

Supporters can have open communication channels to contact the SB on matters within its remit.

The SB can conduct surveys and consultations on major issues.

Supporters can join a group as a way of feeding into the SB.

Supporters should always interact in a respectful and constructive manner and be open to a range of opinions.

How would a supporters board communicate with supporters?

There would be a delicate balance between what information was withheld due to confidentiality and what information was given to supporters by the SB. All parties would have to work positively together to ensure that a satisfactory balance was achieved.

How would a supporters board be financed?

It’s unknown at present what costs the SB would incur and how they would be financed.

DCFC related:

What would happen to the Supporters Charter Group?

At Derby County, discussions have indicated that the SCG would continue, with its membership decided democratically by the supporters only, as a separate body, alongside but independent from the SB. The SCG would deal with all matters of interest to supporters which lie outside the SB’s remit. The exact split would evolve over time and there may be crossover on occasions.

The club, the SB and the SCG would all work for the good of the club. Other clubs and their fans would be respected and encouraged to engage effectively.

Comments are closed.