Fans from all over England & Wales converged on north London on the 5th July 2008 to have their say at the annual FSF Football Fans’ Parliament, held at the Emirates Stadium.
There were a range of debates and seminar sessions focused on the important issues facing the game, including:
- Ticket prices and distribution (time for a new deal for fans on prices and access to tickets!)
- Governance and fair competition (keeping out the crooks, the ever-increasing gap between the Premier League elite and the rest)
- Laws of the game (were the game’s law-maker IFAB right to jettison goal-line technology? What about dissent and respect?)
- The non-league pyramid (nourishing the grass roots of our game in both England & Wales)
- Diversity (the struggle to ensure playing, administering and watching the people’s game is open to all)
In what was one of the most significant gatherings Arsenal's Emirates Stadium has yet witnessed, more than 400 fans of football clubs, from Bristol to Barnsley and from Carlisle to Cardiff, assembled in north London during the first weekend in July for the biggest annual FSF Fans Parliament so far.
“I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t think that Conference was better than last year’s”, said FSF Chairman Malcolm Clarke. “The challenge to all of us now is to maintain current momentum.”
FSF Fans Parliament 2008 was opened by former Sports Minister Dick Caborn, with a review of current domestic issues in the game, and where football is going in an international context. New independent Chair of the FA Lord David Triesman opened the afternoon session, and didn’t duck any tricky questions. Indeed, informal discussions afterwards indicated delegates were hopeful that, under his leadership, the FA can reclaim its historic role as the guardian of the game’s true values, and the supreme governing body of the game in this country.
The normal business of an Annual Conference, including elections to National Council also took place during FP 2008. This year we had a real contest with 21 candidates for 14 places, which is a healthy sign. A quarter of the members of the new National Council are new - the biggest turnover than we’ve ever had. No doubt that those new members will bring new ideas and energy with them. Mark Agate was elected to the position of Vice-President in recognition of his past services to Federation in its various forms.
Some 20 resolutions were debated, and most were passed without dissent, as there is much broad concensus between supporters regarding many of the key issues currently facing our game.
And FSF Chairman Malcolm Clarke very much captured the mood of the meeting when he said: “We must become an active grass-roots campaigning organisation – this year’s Game 39 campaign showed that we can do this when the chips are down. Now let’s start doing it before they are!"