News & Star column 25.03. 21

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CUOSC board members were last week given an insight into how football clubs could – and should – become more accountable to fans.

Mark Middling, a lecturer at Northumbria University in Newcastle, is hoping to gain a Doctorate in Business Administration with a thesis entitled ‘Accounting for Fans, re-addressing the social contract of football.’

He is also a Blues supporter and, as our latest recruit to the board, took the opportunity to give a Zoom presentation on his research.

Mark, 39, believes clubs should move from ‘accounting based accountability’ to ‘accountability based accounting’ and has been working with a number of supporter trusts and the FSA to find out what they want to see reported, with the intention of encouraging clubs to change behaviours.

He has spent over two years working on the doctorate and when finished, it should generate a number of articles for academic publication and may be used by the Football Supporters’ Association when working on the proposed fan-led review into the governance of football.

Mark says all fans have concerns about the future of their clubs and want to know they are stable. His research has identified four key areas for improved reporting; club governance, financial stability, sporting factors and social commitment.

Hesaid: “I am hoping the thesis will be a valuable source of information for both clubs and fans and lead to a more accountable relationship between the two.

“I have been supporting Carlisle from afar for some time, but my interest kicked on when I moved to Hexham a couple of years ago.

“The good news is the Blues emerge with credit from my research, when compared to many clubs. In the annual accounts there is a real effort to show what’s been going on. However, there are areas in which all clubs can improve their reporting practices.”

On the pitch United’s woes continued in midweek. There was an air of inevitability about Leyton Orient’s late winner against the run of play.

Head coach Chris Beech faces a tough job to turn the tide but with two home games coming up in quick succession the Blues still have an opportunity to keep their season alive.

Maximum points from the matches against Cambridge on Saturday and Crawley on Tuesday would also help ease the pain of disgruntled fans.

A detailed summary of Mark’s thesis can be found here: http://cuosc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Accounting-for-Supporters.pdf