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Fair Game Conference 2024

Fair Game Conference

Dave Netherstreet and Geoff Curtis represent Tonbridge Angels

Club President Dave Netherstreet and Director Geoff Curtis yesterday (Tuesday, 21st May) attended a Conference of the Fair Game group at AFC Wimbledon that campaigns for fairer governance of football.

Tonbridge Angels are one of three Kent clubs, with Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United, among nearly 40 that campaign for the game to be governed with fairness, openness and transparency.

Today’s Conference was held ahead of the Commons General Committee, with Kent MP’s Tracey Crouch and Damian Collins members, scrutinising the Football Governance Bill that covers issues such as football finances, owners and directors test and, a more recent issue, the removal of FA Cup replays.

Dave Netherstreet commented ahead of the meeting: “We are not asking for radical change. We want a proper independent assessment. The new regulator should have the powers to set the parameters that any broadcasting deal must meet and that should include narrowing the gaps and rewarding well-run clubs. The distribution serves the elite. If the amount given reflected divisional attendances, then clubs like us would get nearly 200 times more. And for a hard-working community club like ourselves that would make a huge difference to the fans and the communities we serve.”

Our President also disclosed that for every £1,000 that is generated by broadcasting rights, National League South clubs receive just 14p.

What is Fair Game? (Fairgameuk.org)

Fair Game was initially a small group of clubs, nine in total that was brought together by Niall Couper who was at the time a director of AFC Wimbledon, to give fans a greater say in how their clubs were run following the proposed formation of the European Super League and also to get a fairer distribution of the finance generated from TV to benefit grassroots football. Tonbridge Angels were one of the nine and this total has now increased to nearly 40 clubs. As a pressure group the biggest success is the Football Governance Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

There were a lot of issues raised and for everyone who loves grassroots football and are worried, with good cause, about its future please direct them to the Fair Game website.

Some of the topics covered

  • The Football Governance Bill
  • Scope of the proposed new Football Regulator
  • Finance within the football pyramid including sustainability
  • Football for all - diversity and inclusion

Concerning issues with the proposed bill is that:

  • The regulator has no role to play in leagues below EFL Division 2 and the person appointed could be affiliated to an organisation with a vested interest in keeping the status quo;
  • Ownership of football clubs – fit and proper test – must not affect national Interests. Therefore any foreign national or State that trades with the UK can own a football club; and
  • Fairer financial flow down the football pyramid is ignored and the current proposals will be more than likely to increase the financial gaps.  

Amendments have been proposed and these are currently being considered by the 17 MP’s who are scrutinising the bill.

Dave Netherstreet commented: "Please can I ask that everyone who is interested in the future of football reads the Fair Game Evidence Submission to the Football Governance Bill even if you only  look at the statistics. 

"There is a lot of media coverage backing the status quo, the 'it shouldn’t be changed because it works’ brigade but tell that to the supporters of Bury, Reading, Morecambe, Macclesfield. This is not a process for just throwing money at badly run clubs but supporting clubs that are well run to expand and benefit their local area.

"It is a worrying time and I am really grateful that Tonbridge Angels are a fan owned club and the club owes Steve Churcher, who was the Chairman at the time when we took the plunge and the support of the fans, a great deal of gratitude for the decision that was made."

Published Wednesday 22nd May 2024