TIM PAYTON: It’s a FARCE that the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have met Prime Minister Boris Johnson MORE than our owner! Protests will continue to get Stan Kroenke out of our club – and now we want the model to change
- Arsenal Supporters’ Trust Board member Tim Payton opens up to Sportsmail
- He has had more meetings with Boris Johnson than owner Stan Kroenke
- The Prime Minister accepted Payton’s pleas for football ownership to change
Last month, as the furore over the Super League raged, I got to meet Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister’s time was very welcome and his determination to stop the Super League effective.
But what a ridiculous state of affairs that the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have now had more time with the country’s PM than with our own club’s owner, Stan Kroenke.
Stan Kroenke has rarely been held to account by Arsenal’s Supporters Trust members
That group has held more meetings with Prime Minister Boriss Johnson than owner Kroenke
During that Downing Street meeting I outlined to the Prime Minister some of the issues we face. An owner who will not speak to us, despite pledging to do so. An owner who compulsorily took shares from fans who had owned them for generations. An owner who runs the club for profit, not custodianship, as the decision to join the Super League proved.
To his credit the PM grasped this and told the fan groups present that clubs and their fans are national assets that form part of the country’s social fabric.
He agreed we need greater protection and promised a fan-led review, referencing the German 50+1 model as an important one to learn from. Within 48 hours he had appointed the former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP to head that review.
Tracey is a Spurs fan so any praise from me is hard won. Her record is as a true fan who has always fought to place supporters at the heart of the game. We are confident the review is in good hands.
Fans have protested in numbers outside the Emirates Stadium to push for Kroenke to sell up
Football ownership and governance in England is broken. Change is desperately needed. Fans must be given a greater role and say in how their clubs are run.
That is why at Sunday’s Arsenal v Brighton game we will be campaigning under the slogan #KroenkeOut, #FansIn.
It’s a carefully considered message. We don’t believe that simply campaigning for Kroenke to sell Arsenal is the answer. If the ownership model doesn’t change, any new owner is not necessarily an improvement. That’s why our focus is on the role of fans, a message we will take to Crouch’s review when we are the first Supporters’ Trust to give evidence this week. Our request is straightforward. Allow fans to buy a proportion of the shares in their club.
This empowers fans to be custodians through the protection of company law requirements that shareholders accrue such as AGMs, financial information and voting rights.
Alongside this, give fans a golden share veto over key decisions, such as joining a breakaway league or where they always play home games, in our case in Islington.
Clubs should also be required to have a strong, experienced board of directors. These boards should include at least two truly independent and experienced non-executive directors, have genuine fan representation and be empowered to provide scrutiny so they act as a check and balance on the actions of the owners.
Fans want the model to change so that they can buy a proportion of shares in the London club
Underpinning these changes we need to see stronger and more independent regulation. This could be through the establishment of a new regulatory body or reforming how the FA operates.
What matters most is the issues they are regulating. The AST wants to see the introduction of rules that build in the supporter’s voice. There also needs to be a tougher owners and director’s test.
Most importantly, a new approach is needed to the financial side of the game.
The fight against the Super League was empowering because it showed all supporters do care about the pyramid and protecting sporting competition. As the game emerges from Covid we must look after every club and ensure there is a fair competitive balance by sharing revenues.
So over to Tracey. For once we hope a Spurs fan can come first. Let’s get all ‘Fans In’.