This week I welcomed Clive Efford MP to Plymouth. Clive is Labour's Shadow Minister for Sport and Tourism and has been working on new proposals to make football more accountable to fans.
As a Plymouth Argyle supporter I know just how important football is to a city's image, reputation and sense of pride. Whether you are a football supporter or now we all know that what happens at Home Park affects the whole city. I'm a lifelong Argyle fan and I want to see Argyle fans have a bigger say in how the club runs. That's why I'm incredibly excited about Labour's new football proposals as they deal with two of the big issues affecting the sport at the moment: giving fans a bigger say at the Board and encouraging more fan ownership of clubs.
I was really pleased that Clive Efford chose Plymouth to visit to talk about Labour's proposals. I'm even more pleased that both Plymouth Argyle and the Argyle Fans Trust were able to meet with Clive and myself to talk about these proposals.
I want to be clear about this: I want to see Argyle fans sitting around the Argyle Board and a Labour Government will legislate to ensure that 25% or two fans will be able to be elected to the Board by fans. Labour will also ensure that should 30% of shares in Plymouth Argyle be sold fans will have the opportunity to buy 10% of those shares for the average price of the shares being traded. That is a big step forward towards giving fans a bigger say in our club.
The Tories are not proposing anything similar to this and the way they have dragged their heels on the issues of fans on boards and more fan ownership of clubs tells us all we need to know.
If I'm elected as the MP for our area in May and Labour wins the General Election I will vote for Argyle fans to be elected to the Board of Plymouth Argyle in the House of Commons.
As a member of the Argyle Fans Trust I was pleased to have a discussion with them about these proposals and even more pleased that they welcomed the principle of them. I don't want the Trust to be party political in any way but I'm pleased they recognise that what Labour is suggesting would be a huge step forward for Argyle fans' relationship with the club.
If you're not already a member of the Argyle Fans Trust, I'd recommend you join. It is a good way of giving fans a stronger voice and is exactly the type of organisation we need more of in football, responsible, co-operative and passionate about our club.
I put out a press release about Clive's visit and you can read it below. Please let me know what you think about these proposals by getting in touch.
Clive Efford said:
“Too often fans are treated like an after-thought as ticket prices are hiked-up, grounds re-located and clubs burdened with debt or the threat of bankruptcy.
“The Labour party has listened to the views of fans, including the Plymouth Argyle supporters trust, about changing the way football is run in England and Wales. We want to ensure they are heard by the owners of the clubs too. We’re now going to consult further on proposals to enshrine on the statute books football at the heart of our communities.”
Luke Pollard, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, added:
“As Plymouth knows only too well, football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. I believe fans should have a stake in their clubs. That means Argyle fans should have a voice on the Board and the option to buy a stake if the club ever changes hands again.
"Labour has listened to fans across the country, including those in Plymouth, and put together these plans based on feedback from real football fans. I think these measures are sensible, fair and will ensure the voice of fans are taken into account."