Football Supporters Association calls for dialogue after fans survey

THE Football Supporters’ Association is calling for the National League board to open up a dialogue with clubs after a survey found fans are in favour of reforming the competition’s voting structure.

The Covid pandemic produced many issues for the Non-League game with Steps 1 and 2 particularly upset over some aspects of their 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

It led to some clubs successfully calling an Extraordinary General Meeting in May where a vote of no confidence resolution in former chairman Brian Barwick and his board was held.

The bulk of clubs in National League North and South, 33 of the 41, voted in favour of the resolution but it did not carry enough weight to be successful as Step 2 hold only eight votes whereas Step 1 clubs get one each.

The FSA, an organisation representing football fans in England and Wales, found that more than eight out of ten fans (83.9 per cent), of the 1,247 surveyed this week, were in favour of changing the current National League voting structure.

When asked to choose between three potential options for a new voting system, 73 per cent of fans backed a one club, one vote system.

Almost one in five fans (18.4 per cent) said a system where National League North and South clubs received half a vote each compared with a vote apiece for Step 1 was preferable, while only eight per cent believed the current system should remain.

Some Step 2 clubs have also made their voices heard in giving evidence to the government’s fan-led review of football governance.

The idea of Step 1 clubs joining the EFL has also been raised, potentially to form two regional leagues – League Two North and League Two South.

The FSA surveyed fans – and analysed the results over some areas of concern…

Fans were asked for their opinion on two statements regarding the matter, the first: “As the top division of the National League is made up almost exclusively of full-time professional clubs it would better serve the game for them to be part of the EFL rather than the Non-League structure.”

– 68.9 per cent either agreed somewhat or agreed strongly

– 20.7 per cent either disagreed somewhat or disagreed strongly

The second statement read: “If the clubs currently at Step 1 were to become part of the EFL, it would be beneficial for those clubs and the ones in EFL League Two to form two regionalised divisions which would feed in to League One, rather than for the Step 1 clubs to simply form a new EFL League Three.”

– 67 per cent either agreed somewhat or agreed strongly

– 24 per cent either disagreed somewhat or disagreed strongly

Andy Walsh, head of National Game at the FSA, said: “The results of the survey show there is a clear appetite for reform of the National League governance structure and very little support for the status quo.

“On being appointed as the new chairman of the league, Jack Pearce said that he wanted ‘to work together with clubs to move the League forward’. Now that supporters have added their voice to the calls for reform, we would ask the National League board to open up a dialogue with disaffected clubs.

“If there are to be any changes to the league structure involving Step 1 and the EFL clubs, this will require further consultation with all stakeholders, which must include supporters.”

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