As you will know on July 28th members of both the FSF and SD voted to set up a new merged organisation. A key component of the new organisation will be the representatives of the affiliate networks. Despite being in a period of transition to merge the two organisations, we aim to establish who the initial network representatives are in time for the important meeting in the new organisation’s formation which will take place on the 22nd November.
The new merged supporter body will initially consist of 6 networks of affiliates who will each elect 3 people to represent them on a National Council. The 6 networks that were identified and voted on at the respective AGMs of the FSF and SD are as follows:
- Premier League
- EFL 1 & EFL 2 (combined)
- National game
- Supporter-owned football clubs
- Fans for Diversity
Although we are currently in a period of transition to set up the new merged organisation the interim board has agreed that we need to establish who these network representatives will be to start filling representative roles.
The National Council will consist of 18 network representatives (drawn from the networks above) as well as 6 individual members’ representatives (elected at the AGM) and 3 representatives of associate members.
It is anticipated that 9 people from the National Council will be elected to go on and stand for the Board. However, both the Fans for Diversity and the Supporter Owned Clubs network can nominate a board representative directly, and so this number could be lower.
The Board will set the strategic direction of the organisation, oversee its financial and employment affairs – and in cases of urgency between National Council meetings, take decisions on policy. The members will vote to decide who from the National Council will serve on the Board, with a place being reserved each for a representative from the supporter owned football clubs and fans for diversity networks.
Process for establishing representatives of affiliate networks
The aim is for the affiliate networks to have selected their representatives by November 18th, 2018.
The paper approved by both the FSF and SD conferences in July specifies that elections to the national council will take place at meetings of the various networks. For the purpose of the first network elections, to a council that technically will only come into being on 22nd November, it is however felt that in order to allow a fully considered and transparent election process to take place, an online vote should be held, which will then, to adhere to the technicalities laid down in the conference paper, be formally ratified by brief network meetings in the course of the 22nd November General Meeting.
Only people from groups that fit the definition of affiliate members can stand for election. Individuals will be asked to fill out a short nomination form including self-certification that they have been given authority to stand as the only representative from their organisation and that their organisation is likely to meet the definition of affiliate member.
The positions will typically be for 2 years, although the first term will be more like 19 months running to summer 2020, before the roles are up for re-election.
If more than 3 people from an affiliate network put themselves forward there will be an election. The FSF and SD will communicate that there is a contested election through their normal channels and will encourage votes from an authorised representative on behalf of organisations that fit the definition of affiliates who will be able to vote for up to 3 candidates, in a vote that is held online.
If 3 people or fewer put themselves forward there will still be an online vote with authorised representatives of affiliates (that meet the definition for affiliate for the new organisation) able to vote to confirm support (or not) for the candidates in their network. Again, the FSF and SD will communicate this vote through their normal channels.
If there are any unfilled positions (left open, the network can fulfil that position at any time, although the individual so elected will only serve the remainder of the current 2-year period.
As the new organisation isn’t yet operational, in this transitional period if an election for an affiliate network is required, it will be coordinated by the staff of FSF/SD.
FSF/SD staff will check eligibility of candidates at the end of the nomination process and will check eligibility of votes cast at the end of the election process.
Commitment and role of network representatives
The purpose of the network is to debate items that both impact football in general but also might be specific to that network. The output of these meetings can be carried forward into Council by the networks elected representatives and into structured dialogue sessions with the relevant governing body and/or competition owner.
Further, as key staff of the organisation will be present it creates an environment where the staff keep abreast of what the current membership views are and the items concerning them.
As a minimum, network representatives should expect to meet 3 times a year to deal with policy issues and the general direction of the organisation between the Annual General Meeting of members.
Definition of affiliate member
These will be a supporters’ group or Trust who fulfil a number of key criteria of basic sound governance and democratic principles. These requirements would be:
- The single new organisation must have a written constitution
- Their membership must be open to all supporters of the relevant football club at an affordable fee, if any
- The operation of the organisation must be independent of the football club (unless that organisation is a Trust that is the direct owner of its football club)
- The organisation must have a democratic structure and decision-making process, based on one member, one vote
- The majority of the organisation’s governing committee must be elected by the membership, either at a general meeting or by postal or online ballot
- The organisation must publish either audited or certified annual accounts or at least ones approved by its membership at an AGM
- The organisation must keep track of its membership, holding basic details of each current member
- The organisation must adopt a diversity policy (a template can be supplied)
Definition of associate members
This is the tier of membership for all those entities in between individual membership and affiliate membership; in other words, any supporters’ group or collective based on more than one individual, but which does not fulfil all the criteria listed above for an affiliate.
This could therefore be democratically-structured groups which are restrictive in the membership they appeal to, like regional or geographically based supporters’ clubs; organisations that are not independent of the football club, like some clubs’ fans’ forums; traditional fanzines, or newer collective entities like fan websites, Facebook groups, podcasts, Twitter feeds etc
The nomination form can be downloaded from the documents section below this article