History of the Trust Movement
A Supporters’ Trust is a formal, democratic and not-for-profit organisation of fans who attempt to strengthen their influence over the running of the club they support.
Supporters Direct was established, with Government-funding, to encourage the formation of supporters trusts to promote democratic supporter ownership. Supporters Direct encourages the formation of supporters’ trusts as Industrial and Provident Societies (IPSs), and assists with their formation, legal and running costs.
There are over a hundred 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.
Supporters’ trusts are often founded in response to a financial crisis which threatens the future of a team, as was the case at Chesterfield, Lincoln and York. Supporters’ trust involvement has reportedly ensured the survival of 13 different clubs entering into administration. The first trust established was at Northampton Town in January 1992.
Supporters Direct Scotland
Supporters Direct have been active in Scotland since 2002, helping to establish over 30 Supporters Trusts and groups. Of these, 4 have majority ownership of their club, and a further 11 have a degree of representation within the governance of their club. In 2017, Supporters Direct Scotland incorporated locally as a democratic Community Benefit Society, founded on cooperative principles.
Their objectives as an organisation are as follows:
- acting as the democratic and representative voice of the supporters of Scottish football, and protecting, promoting and furthering their interests;
- strengthening the bonds between Scottish football supporters and the game’s governing bodies and stakeholders;
- promoting equality and tackling prejudice within all levels of Scottish sport;
- providing support for community and supporter organisations that seek to buy, bid, govern and influence sports clubs;
- supplying advice and services to supporter organisations and sports clubs in relation to their affairs and development, and supporting them in delivering social and community value;
- operating democratically, fairly, sustainably, transparently and with financial responsibility, and encouraging Scottish sport to do likewise;
- being a positive, inclusive and representative organisation, open and accessible to all supporters regardless of their age, income, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexuality or religious or moral belief;
- assisting in the resolution of disputes between members;
- promoting sport and sports clubs as vehicles through which positive societal change can occur.
Supporters Direct Scotland work closely with the Football Supporters Association  (the successor organisation to Supporters Direct in England and Wales), and are members of both Supporters Direct Europe  and Football Supporters Europe .