In British sports, a supporters' trust is a formal, democratic and not-for-profit organisation of fans who attempt to strengthen the influence of supporters over the running of the club they support. There are over 140 supporters' trusts across England, Wales and Scotland and the majority of these are affiliated to football clubs, however trusts also exist for Rugby league and Rugby Union clubs.
With government and with cross-party support, Supporters Direct was established to encourage the formation of supporters' trusts to promote democratic supporter ownership. Supporters Direct encourages these bodies to be formed as Industrial and Provident Societies (IPSs) and assists with their formation, legal and start-up costs.
Supporters' trusts were commonly founded in response to financial crises which threaten the future of a team, as was the case at Chesterfield, Lincoln City, York City, and Real Oviedo. Their involvement has reportedly ensured the survival of over 20 different clubs entering into administration, particularly during the period of crisis as a result of the collapse of ITV Digital. Supporters' trusts are now more commonly founded in order to increase influence at clubs through a financial stake in the club.
The first trust established was at Northampton Town in January 1992. The largest is the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which used to be known as Shareholders United and currently has over 200,000 members.Other large trusts such as Leeds, Exeter City, Dundee United, Reading, Spurs and Glasgow Rangers have between 3,000 and 7,000 members.
The main objective of a supporters' trust is to provide a vehicle for fans to influence the running of their club. This is achieved by a number of different strategies, including gaining control by fundraising to finance the acquisition of shares in the club or direct board representation.
The most effective method of influencing the running of a club is club ownership.[ citation needed ] In the UK more than 110 supporters' trusts currently hold equity within their football clubs while supporters' trusts have outright or majority ownership or control at two Football League, whilst Wrexham Football Club are also a 100% fan-owned club in the National League as well as others.
Over 40 football clubs currently have supporter representation within the boards of their football clubs, such as the Rangers Supporters Trust at Rangers F.C., Lincoln City Supporters' Trust at Lincoln City F.C., ArabTRUST at Dundee United F.C., the Oldham Athletic Supporters Trust and the Swans Trust at Swansea City A.F.C.. The Bluebirds Trust at Barrow AFChave a board representation and are fundraising to purchase shares. However their formation is different to the vast majority of Trusts, they are not born from crisis but success; Barrow AFC were a members owned club but voted to become a privately owned club. Barrow-born Texan businessman Paul Casson of Casson-Mark (C-Mark) Corp. purchased the club in the Summer of 2014. In Real Oviedo's case, when the club was about to go bankrupt, the club started putting shares up for sale to people across the world to help the club. Thousand of people invested, including 2nd richest man Carlos Slim and Youtuber Spencer Owen (aka Spencer F.C). As was the case for Ebbsfleet United.
About 100 football trusts currently have shares in their clubs.
There are many Rugby League supporters' trusts currently in the UK who run and operate their respective clubs, such as Rochdale Hornets for example, likewise, so do some rugby union clubs, for example Friends of Newport Rugby, representing Newport RFC.
Rangers Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in the Govan district of Glasgow which plays in the Scottish Premiership. Although not its official name, it is often referred to as Glasgow Rangers. The fourth-oldest football club in Scotland, Rangers was founded by four teenage boys as they walked through West End Park in March 1872 where they discussed the idea of forming a football club, and played its first match against the now defunct Callander at the Fleshers' Haugh area of Glasgow Green in May of the same year. Rangers' home ground, Ibrox Stadium, which was designed by stadia architect Archibald Leitch and opened in 1929, is a Category B listed building and the third-largest football stadium in Scotland. The club has played in royal blue shirts for the entirety of its history.
Aberdeen Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in Aberdeen, Scotland. They compete in the Scottish Premiership and have never been relegated from the top division of the Scottish football league system since they were promoted in 1905, despite twice finishing within the relegation zone. Aberdeen have won four Scottish league titles, seven Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups. They are also the only Scottish team to have won two European trophies, having won the European Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup in 1983.
Bristol Rovers Football Club is a professional football club in Bristol, England. The team compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. They have played home matches at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield since 1996. They spent 1897 to 1986 playing at the Eastville Stadium and spent the interceding ten years at Twerton Park in Bath. The club's official nickname is "The Pirates", reflecting the maritime history of Bristol. The local nickname of the club is "The Gas", derived from the gasworks next to their former home, Eastville Stadium, which started as a derogatory term used by fans of their main rivals, Bristol City, but was affectionately adopted by the club and its supporters. Cardiff City and Swindon Town are considered their second and third biggest rivals. The women's team play in the Gloucestershire County Women's League.
Luton Town Supporters' Trust is a registered industrial and provident society which acts as the supporters' trust, a democratic cooperative, for fans of the English football club Luton Town.
Heart of Midlothian Football Club, commonly known as Hearts, is a professional football club in Edinburgh, Scotland. The team competes in the Scottish Championship, the second tier of the Scottish Professional Football League. Hearts, the oldest football club in the Scottish capital, were formed in 1874, their name influenced by Walter Scott's novel The Heart of Midlothian. The club crest is based on the Heart of Midlothian mosaic on the city's Royal Mile; the team's colours are maroon and white.
Dundee Football Club is a professional football club based in the city of Dundee, Scotland. Founded in 1893, they are nicknamed "The Dark Blues" or "The Dee". The club plays its home matches at Dens Park.
Northampton Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Northampton, England. The team plays in League One, the third tier of English football. The club nickname is "The Cobblers", a reference to the town's historical shoe-making industry. They play their home games at the 7,798 capacity all-seater Sixfields Stadium, having moved from the County Ground in 1994, where they had played since their inception. They were formed in 1897, after meetings between the town's schoolteachers and local solicitor A.J. Darnell. The club traditionally play in claret and white and have a long-standing rivalry with nearby club Peterborough United. Although Milton Keynes Dons are geographically closer, their lack of history means that younger Northampton fans are more invested in this match compared to the older generation.
Dumbarton Football Club is a semi-professional football club in Dumbarton, Scotland. Founded on 23 December 1872, they are one of the oldest football clubs in Scotland. The club plays home games at the Dumbarton Football Stadium next to Dumbarton Castle.
Stenhousemuir Football Club is a Scottish football club located in Stenhousemuir, Falkirk. They are a member of the Scottish Professional Football League and currently play in Scottish League Two.
Supporters Direct are an umbrella organisation set up originally by the British government to provide support and assistance for its member trusts to secure a greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs and within football's governing structures. Its first managing director was Brian Lomax, founder of the first supporters' trust at Northampton Town F.C.. Supporters Direct also works in other sports, most notably rugby league, as well as ice hockey. It is also funded by UEFA to work in football across Europe.
Stadium MK is a football ground in the Denbigh district of Bletchley in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. Designed by Populous, it is the home ground of EFL League One side Milton Keynes Dons and FA Women's National League South side Milton Keynes Dons Women.
Kingsholm Stadium is a rugby union stadium located in the Kingsholm area of Gloucester, England, and is the home stadium of Gloucester Rugby. The stadium has a capacity of 16,115. It is sometimes nicknamed 'Castle Grim' after the estate where the stadium is built. The new main grandstand, opened in 2007, is an all seated 7,500 capacity stand along the south touchline. It is currently sponsored by Malvern Tyres.
Stationery Stores F.C. is a Nigerian football club based in Lagos.
The Boston United Football Club Supporters' Trust is a supporters' trust of Boston United Football Club, recognised by Supporters Direct. The group, like other supporters' trusts, seeks to strengthen the influence of supporters over the destiny of their clubs through democratic supporter ownership. The Trust currently owns £3000 worth of shares in the club. An annual membership costs £10 for adults and £1 for under-16s. Boston United legend Chris Cook, who scored for the Pilgrims at Wembley, was notably a board member of the Trust before joining the Boston United Board of Directors.
The Exeter City Supporters' Trust, abbreviated as ECFCST, ECST or simply The Trust, is a supporters' trust consisting of fans of Exeter City, an English professional football club based in Exeter. It is the majority shareholder of Exeter City, controlling 53.6% of the voting shares in the club. Since taking control, the Trust has handed over more than £1.75 million to the club.
The 2016–17 season was the 137th season of competitive football by Rangers.
Club 1872 is a supporters group for fans of the Scottish football club Rangers F.C.
The 2018–19 season is Northampton Town's 122nd season of existence and their first season back in League Two after a two-year absence. Along with competing in League Two, the club will also participate in the FA Cup, EFL Cup and EFL Trophy.