by Site Staff
The project was announced in London on Friday during a speech to the UK
Supporters Direct annual conference by UEFA's director of communications and public affairs
William Gaillard. United Kingdom sports minister Richard Caborn also spoke at the conference.
The process will study the possibility of taking the supporters direct
model used in the UK, where supporters' trusts own a growing number of clubs, with a view to
assessing to what extent this model could be expanded across Europe, as well as studying the
different alternative models that exist around Europe.
"One of the main recommendations to the European football authorities
of the JosÃÂ© Luis Arnaut Independent European Sport Review - initiated by the UK presidency
of the European Union in 2005 - was to examine the feasibility of a European Supporters
Direct body," said Gaillard. "I am pleased to announce today the start of that process. If
the results are conclusive we will soon be dealing with a European Supporters Direct body
that would represent fans' views from right across Europe.
"Football fans are a key stakeholder group in football and it is
important that we have a representative partner at European level with whom we can have
positive discourse," he continued. "I am therefore very optimistic that the outcome of the
study will be successful. Football is the people's game and at UEFA we want to keep it
Caborn added: "I am delighted that Supporters Direct is going from
strength to strength. The decision to expand it across Europe is a vote of confidence in
the Supporters Direct movement and good news for football fans in Europe. I am also pleased
that the first recommendation from the Independent European Sport Review, which I initiated
earlier this year, has been implemented. Supporters Direct has made a real difference to
the way sports clubs, particularly football, are run in the UK and I know its work will
have a positive and far-reaching effect in Europe."
Supporters Direct has assisted in setting up over 140 supporters'
trusts in England, Wales and Scotland, and has already been contacted by fans from clubs
in a number of European countries. "This is excellent news for the trust movement," said
the chief executive of Supporters Direct, Phil French. "This funding will enable us to
start building on the success and growth of the 140 supporters' trusts in the UK and
looking at ways of expanding our work across Europe. We are extremely grateful to UEFA for
having the vision to back this initiative, which will enable supporters to play a
responsible part in improving the financial stability and governance of their clubs."
The initiative is one way of enhancing good governance in football
and the purpose of expanding such supporters groups is to involve responsible fans in
democratic organisations, based on securing a financial stake and democratic representation
within a club. The project is likely to take up to a year to complete and will be funded by
UEFA, with project staff based out of the offices of Supporters Direct in London. The
result will be a report outlining the feasibility of extending the model across Europe.