Supporters Trust

The below information is from Supporters Direct, and explains more about how they operate and govern WISSL.

Supporters Direct work across the UK in a number of sports, as well as being a member of a wider network called SD Europe.

About

In 2009, we began our work in Rugby League following agreement of a funding programme from the Rugby Football League, the game’s governing body in the UK.

With our mission statement as a guiding principle, we have helped establish almost 20 Supporters’ Trusts in Rugby League, six of whom now majority control or own their clubs.

SD Rugby League Council

Our Rugby League Council is elected by our member Supporters Trusts and Community-Owned Clubs to represent SD and its members.

SD Rugby League Fans Parliament 

SD meet with the RFL quarterly to discuss matters raised by our member Supporters Trusts, Supporter-Owned clubs and members of the SD Rugby League Fans Parliament which a representative from each RL club supporter base will be invited to join.

Members of the SD Rugby League Fans Parliament will communicate digitally via a dedicated private network group, receive Rugby League targeted newsletters, notice of upcoming SD Rugby League events and be invited to contribute agenda items to be raised at the next quarterly meeting with the RFL including in-depth reporting and responses following each meeting.

We are working hard on bringing supporters closer to those making the decisions in the game and facilitating fan input.

During establishment of a supporters’ trust

From the outset, we provide support and advice to an individual supporter or working group of supporters who are interested in establishing a supporters’ trust. If we can help, we then provide support & help for meetings, paperwork and registration during its establishment.

Day-to-day

Once formed, our role becomes less intense, and focuses on developing the trust, providing ongoing strategic, tactical and campaigning advice, how to increase activists within the trust, and work in the local community. We also provide support for practical things like how to run the organisation – including training.

We also play an important role to help grow the influence of supporters’ trusts in the ownership and running of its club – a core objective of all our members.

Clubs

We provide specialist support to supporters from clubs that want to become community owned, and a range of support to those that already are through the club network and our consultancy SD Club Development.

Changing the game

We don’t just deal with the issues at supporters’ trust or club level. We want sport and sports clubs to be better run, as well as clubs that are more reflective of their communities and the people who sustain them. That is why we lobby and also crucially work with the sports authorities, in local & regional government, nationally at Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Brussels, and across Europe.

Whether they relate directly or indirectly to supporters’ trusts, or community owned clubs, we want changes that will provide greater protection, make sport more sustainable, reward well run clubs, and a more open and representative of the role that supporters play in the lives of their clubs – and the wider game.

When it comes to supporter involvement SD was instrumental lobbying for, and then implementing, the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) requirement, working with UEFA to include article 35 within their club licensing and financial fair play regulations. We were the driving force behind structured dialogue, a new commitment in 2016/17 for the top 4 leagues in English football, which recognises the need for supporters and club leaders to discuss the fundamental areas that build trust, covering finance, strategy and governance at least twice a year.

Turning the attention to regulatory change we have been able to use our unique and privileged position of working with over 200 grassroots organisations to evidence and recommend changes to improve football. This enabled us to contribute to the Assets of Community Value localism legislation resulting in more than 50 important sporting assets being listed. Our research, policy papers and lobbying have led to other improvements working with leagues and the F.A. to improve rules on insolvency, financial monitoring and reformed clubs.

We are pleased to be working with the National League and the Rugby Football League on pilots to bring structured dialogue principles to benefit their clubs and supporters.

Although there has been progress, there is still much to do.