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FC United to meet Andy Burnham

Whilst FC United look to make history this week in the FA Cup, the club is hoping that progress can be made off the pitch too after securing a meeting with Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr Burnham, the former chairman of Supporters Direct, has agreed to meet with representatives from the board as well as some of his local constituents from the FC United Leigh Branch to discuss the future of football.

This comes hot on the heels of Burnham’s most critical speech yet about the direction the modern game is heading in. Last week, the MP for Leigh declared he was €not flinching’ from his view that supporter ownership is the ideal model for football clubs rather than being €global brands’ which can be bought for profit.

He said: "We should not delude ourselves that the reason England is attracting so much interest is solely because of the quality of football. It is also because other countries, such as Germany and Spain, have football clubs which are mutually owned by their supporters, democratic and not for sale.

"I believe English football is at a crossroads and if it follows the same path in the next 10 years, there is a risk that it will lose touch with its core support."

The lifelong Everton supporter added: "High ticket prices have largely excluded young people. A generation has grown up without the great, formative experience I had of being a football fan."

And Burnham called on the FA to take action: "Regulation has to be led by the FA; it is not for the government to run football. It is time for the FA to step up to the challenge, lead an in-depth look at the regulation of football’s finances and be more robust for the overall health of the game."

The FA confirmed that its chairman has recently met Burnham to discuss his views. A spokesperson said: "Lord Triesman met with Andy Burnham to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the game, including fit and proper ownership of clubs and the development of home-grown talent.

€Like Andy, Lord Triesman firmly believes that clubs must preserve their links with their communities and shares concerns if clubs are being bought for their short-term investment value rather than their long-term success. These issues and the need to reconsider football’s regulatory framework in this area, are very high on the chairman’s list of priorities."

Hopes for some tougher legislation in the area have been raised in recent months because Triesman, who became the first independent chairman of the FA in January this year, is a Labour peer who has developed a close working relationship with Burnham.

Supporters Direct, the group which provides advice to fans’ trusts on how to organise and acquire a collective shareholding in their clubs, welcomed the minister’s comments and Triesman’s reaction.

A spokesperson said: €Like a great many fans, Andy Burnham is concerned about the direction football is headed in. We support his call for a debate about the issue, led by the FA, and the views of supporters are absolutely central to it. We also welcome his reiteration of the view that supporter ownership is a viable, valid - and we’d say necessary - step to reconnecting clubs, their fans and their communities.

€The speech - a wide-ranging critique of the direction of football consistent with Andy’s views for many years and not simply a knee-jerk reaction to recent events - is an important signal of the support for a more responsible and better regulated game as expressed by FA Chairman Lord Triesman.€

News ID ~ 1822 First Posted ~ 13:08 Tue 16 Sep 2008 Last Updated ~ 17:14 Fri 11 Oct 2013

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