We cannot ignore what is a serious breach of trust and a blatant disregard for the principles of consultation. That breach of trust has damaged the Club’s relationships across football, not just with THST. So we need guarantees that any further meetings will not be undermined by secret negotiations and behind-the-scenes plots, and that fan views will not be ignored. Supporters must have confidence that any discussions are being conducted genuinely and in good faith.
Having been unable to reach an agreement with the Club on how talks should be conducted, we have approached the Football Supporters’ Association to mediate. The FSA has put forward a basis for mediation, and we have accepted that. We are waiting to hear whether the Club accepts it.
We recognise that our call for the Executive Board to resign is a serious step. Their decisions have caused severe reputational damage to our Club, and already cost the Club money in the shape of a financial penalty from UEFA. There could be more to come. We are happy to discuss why we think resignations are necessary, and to hear the Club’s view on who should be accountable for what has happened. But we cannot pretend that business as usual is an option. The Club’s standing with the whole football community has been affected.
Our commitment to dialogue cannot be doubted. Indeed, we have faced criticism at times for that commitment. For many years, we have fought hard to establish and maintain meaningful discussions with senior decision-makers at the Club. It is now clear that regulatory change is required. That’s why we are working with senior government and sports industry figures, and other fan groups, to deliver that change.
In the last three weeks, we have met with the Prime Minister, Secretary of State DCMS, Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Secretary DCMS, Shadow Sports Minister and the Premier League executive, as well as being in constant dialogue with fan groups at the other “Big Six” clubs and the Football Supporters’ Association.
We have further demonstrated our commitment to dialogue by putting forward a clear six-point agenda for discussion. All of those six points are aligned with ideas put forward at the other “Big Six” clubs and are being actively considered by the government’s fan-led review.
We encourage the Club to accept the proposals for mediation and begin to address the issues it has with its fans. That needs to happen sooner rather than later. Once that meeting happens, we will consult our membership on our next steps.
9 May 2021