AST evidence to Parliament requests support for Fanshare scheme
Posted Tuesday 17th July 2012
The Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport has been holding a follow up inquiry into Football Governance. The AST provided evidence to their first inquiry, primarily about the Arsenal Fanshare scheme, and many of our suggestions were covered in their final report and recommendations. They recently held a follow-up inquiry and the AST submission to this is set out below:
Submission by the Arsenal Supporters' Trust and Arsenal Fanshare to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee follow-up inquiry into Football Governance
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) and Arsenal Fanshare Scheme provided written evidence (attached) and presented to the Select Committee at Emirates Stadium during its previous inquiry.
We are grateful to the Committee for highlighting the work of the AST and the success of the Arsenal Fanshare Scheme during this inquiry and in its final report. Arsenal Fanshare has also received praise and support from many others including the FA, Supporters' Direct, UEFA, the Premier League and the Minister for Sport.
In this follow up submission, which complements the AST's previous evidence, we wish to focus briefly on three key issues which the AST hopes the Committee will raise in its oral evidence session on 17 July and in any subsequent report it produces:
1. To urge DCMS to expedite the expert working group it promised it would establish, working with the Treasury and BIS, to address legislative barriers to supporter ownership including amending the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This was a recommendation your Committee made and it is disappointing that this still hasn't happened given the Coalition Government's commitment to act on supporter ownership issues.
2. To encourage the football authorities to build on the welcome proposals they have made to create structured relationships between Supporters' Trusts, clubs and the leagues themselves and to include in these measures specific arrangements to replicate in all relationships the arrangements that Trusts that are fortunate to hold an equity stake already receive - notably access to financial reporting and opportunities to engage with the club's directors. The AST has already had constructive meetings with the Premier League and the Supporters' Direct Premier League Trusts Group on this issue and looks forward to further developing the ideas set out in more detail in our initial submission to you.
3. To reiterate the support it gave to the Arsenal Fanshare scheme during its last inquiry and to urge Arsenal majority owner Stan Kroenke to make a very small amount of new equity available to the scheme, which currently faces an uncertain future due to illiquidity in the share market as a result of actions taken during the takeover. This includes asking FA Chairman David Bernstein and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson to make direct contact with Mr Kroenke on this matter. The Minister did commit to doing this during your last oral evidence sessions in response to a proposal by Mr Whittingdale, but to date we do not believe he has been able to do so.
The Arsenal Fanshare scheme has been a great success and has given more than 2,000 additional supporters the chance to be involved in ownership of their club with almost £1m of equity in Arsenal.
The AST was disappointed that during Stan Kroenke's takeover no specific mention or provision was made for the Fanshare Scheme and the role of supporters in the equity structure of the club despite our efforts to secure this recognition. This seemed to run against the messages of custodianship and the importance of supporters that were being stressed as key considerations by the Arsenal Board and Stan Kroenke at the time.
All we are requesting is that Stan Kroenke and the Arsenal Board agree to the placement of a small number of new shares. This would mean a specific number of new shares being created and ring-fenced solely for issue to the Arsenal Fanshare scheme. In recognition of Arsenal's recent 125th anniversary, we have asked for 125 new shares that we believe would secure the scheme's future for at least three years. 125 shares is just 0.20% of the issued capital and so would have no practical impact on the overall holding and majority of Stan Kroenke.
We thank the Select Committee for its interest in this subject.