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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Fans launch football parliament
Kidderminster fans turn out to support their club
The new Parliament lets fans have their say

More than 200 football fans have gathered in Birmingham for the opening of the first Football Fans Parliament.

The initiative is designed to give supporters a bigger say in the running of the game in England.

Steve Powell, development officer for the Football Supporters Federation, told BBC Sport Online fans no longer want to be taken for granted.

"There is a feeling football supporters have not been taken seriously," Powell said. "But there are optimistic signs that that is changing."

"We now meet the football authorities four times a year with a formal agenda. That is a dialogue we want to widen."

Representatives from 67 clubs are debating issues such as fan safety, racism and the growing financial crisis hitting many league clubs.


We're fed up with incompetents running our clubs
Steve Powell spokesman for the Football Supporters Federation

Powell revealed fans are most worried about money and where it is being spent.

"The overwhelming feeling among supporters is there is a contradiction," he said.

"There has never been more money in the game and yet there have never been more clubs in danger of going under."

Powell said the majority of fans want to reintroduce a system of "fair shares" where revenue is distributed amongst clubs at all levels.

"Without a healthy distribution of money there cannot be a healthy distribution of honours," he said.

"And without a healthy base of the game there can't be a healthy apex.

"Aldershot Town are every bit as essential to the game as Arsenal."

Football Association Chief Executive Adam Crozier
The FA will receive a report on the Fans Parliament
There are already signs that football chiefs are interested in hearing what fans have to say.

The Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League all supported the Parliament financially.

They have also sent representatives to observe the first session.

The organisers are determined to continue lobbying on behalf of football fans after the first Parliament is dissolved.

An official report detailing the outcome of debates will also be passed on to football chiefs.

Powell told BBC Sport Online he is optimistic fans will eventually be given a more direct role in running the game.

"I genuinely believe those at the top of the game want to open a dialogue with fans," he said.

"We're fed up with incompetents running our football clubs. "They are community assets and should be run accordingly."

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Fans Parliament co-ordinator Steve Powell
"Big and small clubs need to thrive together"
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