The idea of a supporter on the board of a football club has gone out of fashion and wisely so. Nowadays clubs tend to be owned and run by a single investor rather than a board of directors. There are plenty of unofficial ways of cutting an individual director out of the key decisions. A supporter-director has two masters: the supporters who put them there and the obligations under company law of being a director. In a conflict it’s the latter that has to win which makes the role of a supporter-director a very uncomfortable one.
STAR held shares in Reading FC and then in Reading FC Holdings until Sir John Madejski sold up in 2012-13. These shares entitled STAR and other shareholders to receive the Annual Report and Accounts and attend the company AGM where we could ask questions of the board. With our miniscule shareholding we had no more power than that – but it was something and it allowed us to feel in a tiny way part of the formal apparatus of the club, recognised in law.
Since that point in time STAR has been working with the various owners and CEOs (there have been several of each) on a process called ‘Structured Dialogue’ which gives officially recognised, democratically accountable supporters’ groups a formal status in representing fans in discussion with club bosses on strategic issues. This process was backed by the government in 2016 as a way of giving fans greater engagement in the way in which their club was run.
There have been various hoops to jump through but STAR is very pleased to say that, in late July 2019, we signed the official Memorandum of Understanding which formalises what the club and the trust expect from these Structured Dialogue meetings. We would expect to have two a year and to be able to report on what was said in the meetings. Read more on the STAR website here:
These meetings are in addition to the Senior Management Meetings that STAR has attended, in part, for 14 years, the Fan Engagement Panels run by the club and the Safety Advisory Group, also attended by STAR. Compared with the situation at many other clubs Reading supporters are very well represented (or at least have many channels through which they can be represented!) and the club, in the past year, are making serious efforts to reconnect with all supporters.
Roger Titford, Deputy Chair, STAR