Addressing the Supporters’ Direct national conference in Manchester this morning, Purnell told delegates he believes drafting fans representatives on football club boards is the best way of ensuring their collective voice is heard at the highest level.
“Today I say that I want to see a supporter representative, a voice for fans, on the main board of ALL professional clubs", Purnell told a packed house at Manchester Central Convention Complex.
"Progress has been made domestically too through Supporters Direct’s involvement in The FA’s strategic review, the Financial Regulatory Authority’s policy arm, and through the Football Supporters Federation’s new role on the FA Council – we have yet, however, to see similar progress at club level.
“What form this might take is for football to decide. However, I would strongly support an extension of the existing model which has already been proven to work with ‘supporter - directors’ being elected to club boards from existing trust boards.
“I believe this would be a crucial step in securing a greater balance between the commercial and sporting aspects of the game, and ensure greater accountability of sports clubs to their local community.” And Purnell's pronouncement was music to the ears of Football Supporters’ Federation Chairman Malcolm Clarke, who was recently appointed as the first ever fans’ representative on the FA’s National Council.
“Football fans are the lifeblood of the game – and supporters’ trusts and supporters’ clubs the length and breadth of the land have already proved they are capable of contributing to the improving the governance of football, and it can only be in the long-term interests of the game to improve supporter representation at boardroom level”, Clarke said.
“We look forward to working with Supporters’ Direct, supporters’ trusts and supporters’ clubs to ensure the Secretary of State’s vision for football’s future is turned into a reality.”