May 11, 2021

Chelsea to introduce fan presence at board meetings in wake of Super League controversy

The Blues have moved to increase supporter participation at the top level following their messy withdrawal from the project

Chelsea will allow supporter representatives to sit in at board meetings following the uproar that accompanied the club’s presence in the abortive Super League. 

Blues fans protested against their inclusion in the scheme, and they later joined their Premier League counterparts in swiftly withdrawing. 

The Super League and its subsequent collapse led to heightened calls for more participation in club decisions from the fan base, a request Chelsea appear to be addressing with this move. 

What was said? 

“Chelsea Football Club announces that, as from 1 July, there will be supporter presence at the club’s board meetings,” the club revealed in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Three supporter advisors, picked through an election and selection process, will attend board meetings to ensure general supporter sentiment is considered as part of the club’s decision-making process.

“The club will now consult with the Fans’ Forum and several non-official supporter groups to discuss the club’s proposed process for picking the three supporter advisors.

“Criteria for nominations as well as final selection will ensure that the supporter presence is representative of our supporter base generally and is inclusive and diverse. A new selection will be made before the start of each season.

“Further information regarding this consultation will be communicated directly to the Fans’ Forum and the other non-official supporters groups in the coming days.

“The successful candidates will be required to enter into a confidentiality agreement, similar in scope to the confidentiality obligations of a member of the Chelsea Football Club board of directors. This will allow the club to discuss and seek advice on a broad range of matters.

“The supporter advisors will not have any voting rights and will not participate in any meetings relating to players, staff, the academy and related matters.

“Supporter advisors will attend approximately four meetings per year, and more if appropriate. If they complete the year successfully they will be entitled to select a UK registered charity to receive a contribution of £2,500 from the club.”

The bigger picture

While the owners of Manchester United and Arsenal suffered the most vehement protests in the wake of the Super League, with the former even seeing their clash against Liverpool suspended at the weekend due to a fan invasion of Old Trafford, Chelsea did not emerge unscathed from the debacle. 

Angry Blues fans congregated outside Stamford Bridge ahead of their game with Brighton shortly after the announcement, prompting club favourite Petr Cech to plead with the group to allow the squad to reach the stadium.

Shortly after, Chelsea confirmed their withdrawal from the proposed competition, as have all the Premier League’s six participants to date. 

On a wider note, there have been calls for clubs to involve fans more in the day-to-day running of clubs. 

Germany’s ’50+1′ model, where supporters are guaranteed majority voting rights, is one potential solution that has curried favour among groups representing fans’ interests, with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham among those to extol its benefits. 

“I’ve long admired the German model, which protects the sporting ethos of clubs and prevents commercial forces from running riot,” Burnham told DW. “I’m afraid that we’ve allowed commercial forces to run riot in football in this country, at times to the detriment of our clubs.

“And if you follow that path of unchecked market forces, a Super League is where you end up.”

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