This weekend BIAS attended the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) and Supporters Direct annual Supporters Summit. This event allows supporters groups, to come together, share knowledge and tips, talk about key issues and hear from invited speakers.
Committee members Anna Mason and I attended the summit, along with other fans of Brentford and teams from all over the country.
The day started with a speech from Ian Lenagan from the new English Football League (EFL). Subjects covered the change of branding, as well as the “whole game solution” proposals to expand the EFL to 4 divisions of 20 clubs. Ian also defended the decision to trial the introduction of tier 1 academy teams (B-teams) into the EFL trophy, formerly the JPT.
Ian’s comments were not well received on the whole, with many of the audience against both B-teams in the EFL trophy, and the rearrangement of the divisions. This wasn’t helped by the reasons for the change being given as Premier League fixture congestion and the future chances of the England team.
Ian also made a few notable slips, including a claim that EFL clubs were generally against standing, a playing down of the need for better accessibility for fans with disabilities, and referring to fans as “customers of the 72 independent businesses” that he represents. Hopefully when he settles into the role these will be reduced.
He did speak positively, if not firmly, about the new guidance for senior club officials to engage twice annually with fans. This was covered in more detail later in the workshop on structured dialogue between fans and clubs.
The summit then broke out into workshops, there were two sessions of these, and we were able to attend four of these: on fan scrutiny and pressure, creating good campaigns, structured dialogue between fans and clubs, and ticket pricing.
These sessions can be very valuable, both as an opportunity to discuss next steps on ongoing national campaigns like ticket pricing, and for getting advice and contacts to make sure we are ready to mobilise as and when needed to protect Brentford fans’ interests. Our tweets from the event @BIAS_bfc highlight some of the key points made in the workshops.
Saturday’s event was closed by Kevin Miles, FSF Chief Executive, with a speech from Roy Bentham, Hillsborough survivor, campaigner and representative of FSF and Spirit of Shankly. Roy spoke of his experience 27 years ago, and in April as the results of the Inquiry were announced. He paid tribute to the families, survivors and campaigners who had work so hard to make it happen. Kevin closed the event by reminding us of our achievements this year, and of what is left to do, with one key message: FAN POWER WORKS.