The story of the early days of FORAS and how supporters gained ownership of Cork City Football Club was detailed at an ‘Improving Football Governance’ event in Spain over the weekend.
The event was organised by national supporters’ organisation in Spain, FASFE, and is part of the project being led in Ireland by the supporters’ trust that owns and operates Cork City.
The Irish event was held in Cork last November and invited partners from Sweden as well as Italy to come along and discuss the various issues being experienced in their respective countries.
On this occasion, project manager Niamh O’Mahony was invited to attend the two-day event in Madrid and speak during a session entitled ‘The importance of fan involvement’ alongside speakers from Por Nuestro Betis (Real Betis) and CAP Ciudad de Murcia. The event was also a first of its kind for Spain, and kicked off last Friday evening with the results of the Spanish fans survey.
The session entitled ‘What is a football club?’ saw two very different perspectives presented to the audience. Jens Wagner of Hamburg SV (a project partner from Germany) and Ínigo Arza Romero of UC Ceares, a club from the fourth tier of the Spanish league, discussed what key components make up a football club. The three ‘pillars’ of Sport, Finance and Social were seen as crucial to every team – no matter their size.
The ‘What is a Supporters Association?’ session saw two very passionate speeches from Conrado Esteve and Bernardo Colsa whose respective clubs (CD Castellon / Racing Santander) have experienced significant financial turmoil in recent years.
The overwhelming message from session three (involving FORAS) was that fans can effect positive change within their clubs if they are organised, determined and stand their ground. Niamh spoke alongside Camilo Puerto and Uli Frutos during these discussions.
The event concluded with a round table discussion between William Gaillard (Special Advisor to Uefa President Michel Platini), Pedro Velazquez of the European Commission, Miguel Caba (LFP) and FASFE’s president José Ángel Zalba.
The Irish project is currently preparing a handbook to assist for Irish supporters-run clubs, trusts and groups – with input from across Irish football – while also examining the possible next steps beyond the ‘Improving Football Governance’ initiative. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.