Supporters' trust

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In British sports, a supporters' trust is a formal, democratic and not-for-profit organisation of fans who attempt to strengthen the influence of supporters over the running of the club they support. There are over 140 supporters' trusts across England, Wales and Scotland and the majority of these are affiliated to football clubs, however trusts also exist for Rugby League and Rugby Union.

With government and with cross-party support, Supporters Direct was established to encourage the formation of supporters' trusts to promote democratic supporter ownership. Supporters Direct encourages these bodies to be formed as Industrial and Provident Societies (IPSs) and assists with their formation, legal and start-up costs.

Supporters' trusts were commonly founded in response to a financial crisis which threatens the future of a team, as was the case at Chesterfield, Lincoln City and York City. Their involvement has reportedly ensured the survival of over 20 different clubs entering into administration, particularly during the period of crisis as a result of the collapse of ITV Digital. Supporters' trusts are now more commonly founded in order to increase influence at clubs through a financial stake in the club.

The first trust established was at Northampton Town in January 1992. The largest is the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which used to be known as Shareholders United and currently has over 200,000 members.[1] Other large trusts such as Leeds, Exeter City, Dundee United, Reading, Spurs and Glasgow Rangers have between 3,000 and 7,000 members.

Methods for influencing clubs[edit]

The main objective of a supporters' trust is to provide a vehicle for fans to influence the running of their club. This is achieved by a number of different strategies, including gaining control by fundraising to finance the acquisition of shares in the club or direct board representation.

Club ownership[edit]

The most effective method of influencing the running of a club is club ownership. More than 110 supporters' trusts currently hold equity within their football clubs while supporters' trusts have outright or majority ownership or control at two Football League and others. These are as follows:

League clubs:

Non-League clubs:

England
Scotland
Serbia
  • FK Hajduk 1925 (2013)

Rugby League Clubs:

Board representation[edit]

Over 40 football clubs currently have supporter representation within the boards of their football clubs, such as the Rangers Supporters Trust at Rangers F.C., Lincoln City Supporters' Trust at Lincoln City F.C., ArabTRUST at Dundee United F.C., the Oldham Athletic Supporters Trust and the Swans Trust at Swansea City A.F.C..

About 100 football trusts currently have shares in their clubs.

Supporters' trusts in other sports[edit]

The following are Rugby Union supporters' trusts currently in the UK: -

The following are Rugby League supporters' trusts currently in the UK:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]