With the publication of the fan-led review into football thrusting governance of the fair game into the spotlight, Oldham Liberal Democrats will propose a motion in support of Fair Game to the next meeting of Oldham Council (15 December). Fair Game is a national campaign that seeks radical reform in the way football is managed to make the ‘beautiful game’ more fan-focussed and financially sustainable.
Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani will propose the motion. He explained: “I’m a City fan – I was there when we were losing games in the third tier, and I have seen us ride the rollercoaster all the way to the top. As much as I love watching the great players it has brought to my club, I don’t think that the way football works is even close to fair.
“I have friends who support Macclesfield Town. I have friends who support Bury FC. Clubs that have failed, and which have ripped the heart out of those towns when they went into meltdown. Too many teams are too close to doing the same elsewhere.
“The Fair Game manifesto proposes practical measures which will refocus football clubs on the score and not on their profit margins, and which recognise that fans and not sovereign wealth funds should come first.
“Football clubs are not profit centres; they give the people of the town a sense of identity and pride. Ask anyone from outside of the Borough what they know about Oldham and the chances are they will tell you they visited Boundary Park and it was cold! My first ever game in the flesh was at Boundary Park, sitting on the shoulders of my brother-in-law in the Chaddy end, watching Joe Royle’s team gunning for promotion. I hate to think that the next generation might not know that feeling.”
As well as signifying support for the manifesto, the Liberal Democrats also want Oldham to do more to set the pace to help fans acquire struggling professional football clubs.
Councillor Diane Williamson who is backing Sam said: “Ideally, we need to see clubs part-owned, or wholly-owned and operated as co-operatives, by lifelong local fans for local benefit, rather than profit.
“Oldham Council is a founder member of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network. We believe Oldham should work with other member Councils to develop a model which can support fan groups to register their local football club as an Asset of Community Value and provide them with a chance to buy and operate the club should the opportunity arise.
“To see a club saved for future generations would really be ‘football coming home’.”