ENGAGE! – How Clubs Can Win With Football Supporters (Supporters Direct)

New Publication from Supporters Direct

Supporters Direct have recently published a guidance document titled “ENGAGE! – How Clubs Can Win With Football Supporters”. Over the last couple of weeks we have emailed members with a series of extracts from the Supporters Direct document.

This week, we look at the different types of Independent Supporters Organisations that exist throughout our football clubs:


 There are a number of different supporter organisations that have been set up independently from their clubs. Although there will be some blurred lines when it comes to their purpose from club to club, we have summarised their typical features and role below:

 Supporters Trust 

Legal form –  Incorporated as a Community Benefit Society.

 Primary purpose –  To strengthen the influence of supporters in the running of the club they support and be actively involved in the wider community.

 Background –  A model inspired by the work of Brian Lomax at Northampton Town in the 1990s and a recommendation to replicate it from the 1999 Football Task Force Report. It recognised that ‘fans organisations are being asked to play an increasing consultative role’ which led to the formation of Supporters Direct in 2000 and the subsequent formation of 200+ Supporters Trusts as CBS’ today.

 Being incorporated gives extra powers such as owning assets (and shares) collectively, limited liability for members and opportunities to raise finance by offering shares. Regulatory oversight can help build credibility with partners.

 Independent Supporters Association  

Legal form –  Unincorporated.

 Primary purpose –  To bring like-minded supporters together.

 Background –  Independent Supporters Associations particularly came to the fore in the late 1980s/90s to establish an independent supporters voice from the club. Some, but not all, became forerunners of supporters trusts with each case depending on different issues and objectives.

 Supporters Club 

Legal form –  Unincorporated.

 Primary purpose –  A core group of long standing fans that want to arrange social events, fundraisers and travel for the benefit of the club and supporters.

 Background –  Supporters clubs have traditionally been the lifeblood of clubs and have on numerous occasions bailed out and saved the club. Typically, they don’t seek involvement in the decision-making at a strategic level although a few have evolved to become supporters trusts particularly where the club has been in crisis. 

In addition, there are fanzines and online forums which make up an important part of supporter culture. Both can wield great influence and prove popular for supporters in getting their opinions across. We’ve not included them in detail, not because they aren’t important stakeholders, but they don’t typically have a structure in the same way that supporters trusts, associations and clubs do.”

 We hope that you found the above to be of interest and gives an insight into what forms the basis of supporter involvement in football clubs. We will feature further extracts from the guidance over future weeks and look forward to receiving any comments you may wish to make on enquiries@bwfcst.co.uk

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