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Minister hails club ethos

19 January 2016

Sports Minister visits AFC Wimbledon

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch congratulated everyone involved with the rise of AFC Wimbledon after a government report on supporter ownership was today launched at the club.

Tracey (pictured left with Erik Samuelson) visited the Cherry Red Records Stadium after a report from the Government Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement was published.

 Speaking after a media briefing to national journalists held in the Presidents Lounge, Tracey said: “The fan-owned model of AFC Wimbledon was formed after the many troubles Wimbledon had in the past and it is something that we want to see replicated at other clubs. I congratulate everyone who has been involved with AFC Wimbledon. The club has a very strong future because of the hard work of its supporters.

“The club was fully engaged with the working group and some of the recommendations have come directly from the experiences of AFC Wimbledon. It is a hugely important report and it is a step forward for football. It is a report for football as a whole, it’s not just about the Premier League. We want to make sure that supporters at every level have engagement and dialogue with their clubs and where the opportunity arises, have the ability to own parts or all of their club.”

As well as being very complimentary to AFC Wimbledon, Tracey also remarked that she had heard all about the superb FA Youth Cup run of our Under-18s from a Dons supporter in her office!

The report aims to provide more opportunities for supporters to bid to own their football clubs, in an insolvency situation. As part of this, supporters groups will be able to meet with senior officials at their clubs twice a year to discuss issues important to them.

In summary, the report aims to improve fan engagement with the following:

- New opportunities for supporters to bid to own their football clubs in an insolvency situation.

- The introduction of regular structured engagement between clubs and supporters, endorsed by the League.

- Clubs to meet with a representative group of supporters at least twice a year.

- Additional £1 million funding proposed from Premier League for supporter groups on ownership and related issues and access to emergency funding to help supporters fund bid costs when formulating an ownership bid.

  .Fan PowerThe Premier League, The Football League, National League and FA boards have endorsed the report, alongside Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation. The full report is now available by clicking on 

Dons Trust Chair Matthew Breach welcomed the Expert Working Group’s report.

  Several key recommendations have been derived that we believe will make it much easier for supporter organisations to be fully engaged with their club and, when desired, to be able to take ownership. Matthew said: “The Trust was represented during this activity by former board member Zoe Linkson and we very pleased to be asked to contribute.

“We look forward to seeing these recommendations taken further by Government and the Football Authorities and would be happy to take part in future exercises looking at other areas of Football Governance."

The working group appointed “Expert Witness Members” with AFC Wimbledon as one of four clubs consulted because of their “specific expertise and insight into football club ownership.”

Portsmouth Supporters Trust, along with equivalent groups from Wrexham and Swansea, also had key input.

Supporters Direct Chairman Brian Burgess said: “AFC Wimbledon has a fantastic story and the club is a fine role model for clubs at every level. The way that supporters have taken ownership of the club, along with its community involvement, sets a fantastic example for others to follow. AFC Wimbledon has been run successfully and sustainably, while generating social value at the same time.

“This report has the potential to mark the start of a new era of structured meaningful dialogue between clubs and Trusts, supported by changes which will lead to more opportunities for supporter ownership. Implemented correctly, it can be a welcome step forward in a long-term process of reform, helping to reconnect clubs to their communities.”

Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the Football Supporters Federation, said: “The way that AFC Wimbledon has risen through the pyramid and blossomed after the outrage of moving the old club demonstrates what fans are capable of and what they are prepared to do. AFC Wimbledon is a shining beacon of what fan power can achieve.

“All too often, crucial club decisions have been taken over the heads of fans, with the real financial and strategic position of clubs shrouded in mystery.

“We welcome the recommendations in this report that supporters’ representatives should be entitled to regular structured engagement with clubs, and that supporter representation within the FA should be strengthened.

“Fans aren’t only concerned with facilities and team performance; we also care deeply about the ownership, governance and strategic direction of the clubs we support.”

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