Supporters Direct are an umbrella organisation set up originally by the British government (with cross-party support) to provide support and assistance for its member trusts to secure a greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs and within football's governing structures. Its first managing director was Brian Lomax, founder of the first supporters' trust at Northampton Town F.C.. Supporters Direct also works in other sports, most notably rugby league, as well as ice hockey. It is also funded by UEFA to work in football across Europe.
Amongst other things, Supporters Direct promotes the value of supporter and community engagement and helps supporters' trusts to secure influence and become a constructive voice in how their club is run. There are now over 180 supporters' trusts in the UK; clubs owned in partnership with supporters' trusts such as Swansea City A.F.C. and over 30 clubs owned by their supporters including Enfield Town FC, the first ever supporter owned football club in the United Kingdom, AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City F.C., AFC Telford and Wrexham F.C.
Existing as a Community Benefit Society, Supporters Direct is owned by its members and funded by a combination of the Fans Fund of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, UEFA. the Scottish Government, and member trust subscriptions. Its work in rugby league is not formally funded by the Rugby Football League anymore, instead some work is carried out using funds from the Co-operative Enterprise Hub.
Supporters Direct Cup
The Supporters Direct Cup is an annual, pre-season friendly competition established by Supporters Direct via its trust mailing list, from where subscriptions were sought to buy and engrave the trophy. The cup is competed for between supporter-owned clubs and was first won by AFC Wimbledon, who beat Enfield Town, 3–2, on 12 August 2002 at Cheshunt FC. Other winners have been AFC Telford United, Brentford, Enfield Town and FC United of Manchester. AFC Wimbledon have featured six times in the match and FC United made their fifth appearance in 2011.
The competition is an invitational event has recently featured as part of a weekend of Supporters Direct events. It also features a second invitational match for the Supporters Direct Shield. The 2012 Supporters Direct Cup was most recently held on 16 July between Enfield Town F.C. and Wrexham A.F.C. with Enfield 3–1 victors.
In 2013, the Supporters Direct Cup featured a fixture between Scottish sides for the first time, with Dunfermline Athletic going head to head against Heart of Midlothian at East End Park on 13 July. Both sides at the time were in administration however, Dunfermline Athletic have since exited administration and are owned by fans group, Pars United. Hearts won the match 2-1.
The cup itself was paid for by subscriptions from supporters' trusts and individual fans, and is inscribed with Jock Stein’s maxim, "Football without fans is nothing." In the spirit of the fixture, gate receipts from the match are split between competing clubs.
|12 August 2002||AFC Wimbledon||Sheerin, Cooper, Sidwell||Enfield Town||Alleyne, St Hilaire||3–2||Cheshunt Stadium||521|
|20 July 2004||Brentford||Burton, Peters||AFC Wimbledon||–||2–0||Griffin Park||2,562|
|23 July 2005||AFC Wimbledon||Crace||FC United||–||1–0||Kingsmeadow||3,301|
|22 July 2006||FC United||Brown, Torpey||AFC Wimbledon||Barnes||2–1||Gigg Lane||2,136|
|4 August 2007||Enfield Town||Edmunds||Cambridge City||Midgley||1–1||Goldsdown Road||244|
|19 July 2008||Brentford||Connell, Elder||AFC Wimbledon||Main||2–1||Kingsmeadow||1,361|
|25 July 2009||AFC Wimbledon||Judge, Rapson||FC United||–||2–0||Kingsmeadow||1,772|
|24 July 2010||AFC Telford||Brown, Meechan||FC United||–||2–0||New Bucks Head||803|
|16 July 2011||Chester||Ormrod, Brown||FC United||Neville||2–1||Deva Stadium||1,927|
|8 July 2012||Enfield Town||Kirby, Hope (2)||Wrexham||Salathiel||3–1||Queen Elizabeth Stadium||306|
|27 July 2013||Enfield Town||Wallace, Hope (2), Campbell (2), Osei, O'Brien, Green||YB SK Beveren||Vaerenberg (2)||8-2||Queen Elizabeth Stadium||330|
Supporters Direct Shield
|24 July 2010||Scarborough Athletic||Phillips, Gibson||Merthyr Town||2–0||New Bucks Head||803|
|8 July 2012||Lewes||Breach||Fisher||1–0||Queen Elizabeth Stadium||306|
|13 July 2013||1874 Northwich||Hendley, Stewart, Wilding||AFC Rushden & Diamonds||3–0||Select Security Stadium||130|
|30 July 2014||AFC Rushden & Diamonds||Gearing, Dunkley||Hinckley_A.F.C.||O'Connell, Facey||2–2 (4-2 pens)||Dog & Duck Stadium||301|
- SD Fans' Weekend (including Annual Conference & SD Cup) Supporters Direct official site
- "Supporters Direct Shield: Merthyr 0 Boro 2". scarboroughathletic.com. 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2010-07-26.