Football in Britain – Still the Game of the People?

Football in Britain – Still the Game of the People?

Room 1.02 – Malet Place Engineering Building,
London WC1E 6BT

Tuesday 7th November 2006 at 6:15pm

Given by:

Dave Boyle

Deputy Chief Executive, Supporters Direct


For the last six years Dave Boyle has been a leading activist at the Supporters Direct organisation. Supporters Direct exists to: promote and support the concept of democratic supporter ownership and representation through mutual, not-for-profit structures; promote football clubs as civic and community institutions; to work to preserve the competitive values of league football in the United Kingdom and to promote the health of the game as a whole. Over that six year period:

  • Over 140 Supporters’ Trusts have been formed across England , Wales and Scotland.
  • 61 Supporters’ Trusts now hold equity within their football clubs.
  • 39 Football clubs have supporter representation within the boards of their football clubs.
  • There is supporter ownership at 4 football league clubs (Brentford, Chesterfield , Rushden & Diamonds and Stockport County).
  • There is supporters’ ownership at 7 non-league clubs (Exeter City, AFC Wimbledon, AFC Telford, Newport (IOW), Enfield Town, FC United of Manchester and Clydebank),
  • Supporters’ Trusts have been involved in saving a club at 13 clubs.
  • Supporters’ trusts have brought around £10m of investment into the game.
  • Over 95,000 people have joined democratic not-for-profit organisations dedicated to fostering enhanced relationships between clubs and their communities and providing direct experience of the importance of citizen activism and democratic involvement in the delivery of key local services.

Without the efforts of Supporters Direct, there would not now be 92 professional clubs in England and Wales. It has been said that if one club were to be liquidated, it would start a domino effect – a major reason why this has not yet happened is through the efforts of the many Supporters’ Trusts advised by Supporters Direct.

In this lecture, Dave Boyle, drawing on his experience at Supporters Direct but here speaking in a personal capacity, will review the key developments in the economics and governance of football in the UK, with a particular focus on the English game. Using the concern expressed leading up to, and during, the Task Force Process as a reference point he will pose the key questions: to what extent are the traditional values of the game in Britain still under threat by commercial pressures; and if they are, does it matter? He will ask what the processes are that have driven the recent developments – how much are they a feature of the individual decisions of clubs and the game’s authorities, and how much is driven by wider economic, social and philosophical issues.


Dave Boyle has worked for Supporters Direct for 6 years since its inception in 2000. He has helped fans set up supporters’ trusts at over 50 clubs, and has worked with fans involved in some of the major touchstone issues in the game in recent years, such as the move of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes and the takeover of Manchester United by Malcolm Glazer.

He was first involved in the Football Supporters’ Association in 1999, and served as Vice-Chair, becoming Vice-Chair of the Football Supporter’ Federation in 2002 after the FSA merged with the National Federation of Supporter’ Clubs.

He is also a member of the board of the Social Enterprise Coalition, and before working for Supporters Direct he worked in Higher Education and press and communications.


For further details contact:

Sean Hamil 
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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