THE Supporters Trust’s Football Conversation provided plenty of talking points in what promises to be a challenging time ahead for the national game.
A total of 888 respondents – both Trust members and also the wider Northampton footballing public – were surveyed during February and March and clearly backed the need for football clubs to become more sustainable, transparent and accountable to both shareholders and fans.
These results have already been publicised.
The feedback supported the Trust’s exploration of potential new ownership models for the football club in any future crisis scenario.
But the biggest topic of conversation generated was around the urgent need to improve the infrastructure at Northampton Town FC, to improve and maximise the club's assets and look to make the club more sustainable and less reliant on owner funding.
Summary of the main topics of conversation:-
A weariness to the discussions, the issue seemingly mired in local authority land issues for too many years.
In the first instance, the stand should be given a basic makeover.
North and south stand expansions were considered of equal or greater importance.
EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
No case was made for leading Premier League clubs to stay in the English game.
The consensus was that if the big six wanted to seek vast fortunes in a continental league then let them get on with it!
There was a popular call for a fanzone to be introduced behind improved north and east stands to encourage more supporters to spend more time and money at the stadium before and after matches.
FOOTBALL GOVERNANCE REVIEW
Six of the seven Northamptonshire MPs committed to supporting a fan-led review into football reform but many respondents were sceptical of the Government’s will and intent, pointing to the fact that the advertised head of such a review was apparently being offered a small salary.
NORTH STAND EXPANSION
Look beyond the east stand! Increase the capacity of the north stand to help improve the stadium’s matchday atmosphere and look at the bigger picture in optimising the use of the stadium for community events.
Give urgent thought to increasing the north and south stands and look at incorporating safe standing in the north stand at the very least. The stands can be enlarged reasonably easily and maybe also reasonably cheaply. A bigger south stand would enable larger away followings for the bigger matches.
Thought to be desirable but realistically unachievable – another mechanism should be brought forward to ensure clubs of different means operate sensibly within those means.
There is no great love for the stadium it would appear – there was a considered view that the Cobblers may benefit from playing at a different location entirely.
TV MONEY DISTRIBUTION
It was clearly agreed that in order to improve the sustainability of clubs further down the pyramid, there had to be a fairer distribution of monies from television rights to the game.
Opinion was split here – many fans take a great interest in transfer fees and feel they should always be disclosed, others took the view that disclosure would inhibit competition in the market alongside other disadvantages.
This report is being shared with the Football Supporters Association and also NTFC chairman Kelvin Thomas and chief executive James Whiting.