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Football task force seeks fair deal for all
Sports Minister Tony Banks outlined wide ranging plans to ensure a fair deal for football fans and the game of football.
Sports Minister Tony Banks today outlined wide ranging plans to ensure a fair deal for football fans and the game of football.

Announcing details of the Government's Football Task Force, Mr Banks said that the group would be chaired by David Mellor and would bring together all sections of the footballing community.

The task force have been asked to investigate and recommend new measures to deal with the public's concerns on issues such as racism, ticket prices, access for the disabled and the increasing commercialism in the game. The group will report back to Government by Chrismas, drawing up plans to help:
  • eliminate racism in football and encourage wider participation by ethnic minorities, both in playing and spectating
  • improve disabled access to spectating facilities
  • encourage greater supporter involvement in the running of clubs
  • encourage ticketing and pricing policies that are geared to reflect the needs of all, on an equitable basis, including for cup and international matches
  • encourage merchandising policies that reflect the needs of supporters as well as commercial considerations
  • develop the opportunities for players to act as good role models in terms of behaviour and sportsmanship, and to become actively involved in community schemes
  • reconcile the potential conflict between the legitimate needs of shareholders, players and supporters where clubs are floated on the Stock Exchange.
Mr Banks welcomed the positive reaction of the organisations asked to take part in the Task Force. He said:

"The game of football has changed dramatically over the last decade. Following the Hillsborough tragedy it was essential for football to think afresh about the safety and comfort of the spectators coming to watch our national game. The depth of top quality stadia in this country shows that we are well on the way to meeting that challenge."

"But we should not assume that this is the only challenge facing the sport. That is why the Government has decided to establish a Football Task Force to ensure that those in a position of power have an opportunity to hear the views and suggestions from all quarters of the game."

"Many clubs are taking action to stamp out racism - but more needs to be done. There are questions, not just of access for minority groups like the disabled, but how clubs can avoid alienating the less well off from the sport that they love. Let's really make football Britain's family game. There are many ways that clubs can achieve this and I hope that the group will highlight some of the good things already going on within the game."

"For example, Charlton Athletic where we are launching this initiative today, have a very strong anti-racism policy. They have a member of the supporters organisation on the board, they have close links with the community and have maintained reasonable ticket pricing following their flotation on the stock market. Their smart modern stadium should be an incentive to others - showing that financial success and stability can be achieved alongside a close working relationship with the supporters that make the game what it is."

Those invited to be members of the 'Football Task Force' are as follows:
  • The Football Trust (Secretariat)
  • The Football Association - Keith Wiseman
  • The FA Premier League - Peter Leaver
  • The Football League - David Sheepshanks
  • Professional Footballers Association - Gordon Taylor
  • Commission for Racial Equality - Sir Herman Ouseley
  • Local Government Association - Chris Heinitz
  • Football Academic - Rogan Taylor
  • English Sports Council - Sir Rodney Walker
  • Football Supporters Association - Graham Bean
  • National Federation of Football Supporters Clubs - Tony Kershaw
  • National Association of Disabled Supporters Clubs - Steve Hennegan
  • League Managers Association - John Barnwell
  • Association of Premier and Football League Referees & Linesmen - David Phillips
Tony Banks MP 1 January 1998

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