The creation of an independent regulator for English football (IREF) is a positive and vital step. So too is the requirement for clubs to obtain a licence from that regulator, and for that licence to specify minimum standards of governance and supporter engagement. The game and its clubs have shown they are unwilling or unable to deliver the reforms needed, and we wholeheartedly endorse the establishment of the regulator and licensing system to ensure reform is delivered effectively.
Supporters from 130 different clubs contributed to the Review. But what does it mean for us at Tottenham Hotspur? In short, it means the arguments we have put forward for many years have been vindicated, and that we can finally move forward.
The Review sees genuine supporter engagement in decision-making about all matters aside from team selection and tactics as not only the right thing to do, but as essential for good business. It asks for clubs to “develop and deliver a strategy for engaging with and listening to its fans, community and stakeholders”. It specifically mentions the need for fan views on strategic and commercial matters to be properly heard. And it requires clubs to publish “high quality, easy-to-understand financial information”.
We have been arguing for all of this for many years, and been opposed by the clubs, the football authorities and even some of our fans. The discussion is now concluded, and it is time to move on and recognise the new reality.
Almost all of the measures we proposed in our submission to the Review have been endorsed. We lobbied for;
• Genuinely independent non-executive directors on the Club board
• A clearer, more transparent governance and reporting structure
• The establishment of a two-tier board structure with teeth
• Reserved seats for the Trust, diversity representatives, and key supporter constituencies on a shadow or supervisory board
• The establishment of Golden Share rights giving supporters the ability to veto key decisions about the Club’s heritage through the recognised Supporters’ Trust.
All of these measures are in the final list of recommendations, and all will be a requirement of the Club being granted a licence by the regulator.
We are also pleased to see detailed proposals for mandatory measures to improve diversity within the governance structures of the Club, and to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion are not just boxes to be ticked, but part of the mainstream approach.
We also argued for a fan-elected director on the main Club Board. This proposal is not among the review’s final recommendations, although its merits are discussed. We are confident that the proposals set out in the Review could deliver most of the things we saw the fan-elected director delivering, so this omission is not as concerning as it might have been.
However, the Review’s recommendations set out the licence conditions as minimum requirements, so there is nothing to stop our Club – which regularly states its desire to set the standard – from establishing the position of fan-elected director. The Review explicitly urges Clubs to go further than the proposals it makes.
We are particularly encouraged in this respect to read the words of our Club chairman Daniel Levy in the latest set of financial statements, where he says: “We look forward to the government’s fan-led review and to delivering enhanced supporter engagement and consultation”. We agree that it is time to move forward, recognise the direction of travel, and genuinely embrace changes that have widespread support.
We will be contacting the Club directly to start work on implementing these proposals as a minimum standard. And as always, we will report progress back to our members. The Review’s proposals are positive, but there is still work to be done.
The detail of legislation needed to create this new system are still to be worked out, and must be debated by both Houses of Parliament. So we need you to contact your local MP to tell them you support the findings of the Review, and that you want them to back the allocation of Parliamentary time to enable the necessary debate to go ahead. And please, ask them to back the proposals.
We’d also encourage you to familiarise yourself with the report. It’s long, but it is a significant document that will answer many of your questions.
Finally, we’d encourage you more than ever to join THST. We are about to move forward into a new era, and it is more vital than ever that your Trust, with genuine powers and a place at the heart of Club governance, is as strong and representative as possible. Join us, get fellow fans to join us, and if you can contribute some time to help us as we change to make the most of new opportunities, please contact us.
We will continue to keep you informed through this website and our social media channels. For now, enjoy what is a great day for English football.
24 November 2021