Birbeck College's School of Management and Organizational Psychology has established a research programme on how regulation of the football and broadcasting industries might best be reformed to meet the new challenges facing football. A successful conference in February 1999 brought together leading academics, policy makers and analysts, resulting in the book A Game of Two Halves? The Business of Football (edited by Sean Hamil, Jonathan Michie and Christine Oughton, with a foreword by Sir Alex Ferguson, published by Mainstream press in September 1999).
A second major conference was held in July 1999 to discuss The Governance and Regulation of Football. Representatives from the FA Premier League, the Football Association, the Football League, football clubs, the Football Trust, the Professional Footballers Association, the Coalition of Football Supporters, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Football Task Force, business and academia came together to debate and discuss the major challenges and opportunities facing the game.
One of the key ideas to emerge was increasing supporter involvement in the running of their own clubs. On October 1st 1999, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport announced a package of legal and financial support to enable fans to take a stake in their clubs. The details of what this will involve are now being worked out and implemented, and the January 27th 2000 conference will play a key part in this process.
The conference is supported by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Football Trust, the Professional Footballers Association, the Co-operative party who have been instrumental in raising the issue of trust holdings and the mutualisation of clubs, and the law firm Cobbetts, who are working with Birbeck College on the appropriate legal structures for clubs. The conference is aimed at football supporters who need practical information and advice on how to organise supporter-Trust holdings in their clubs. The conference is also aimed at club officials and representatives of the game's governing bodies to enable a wider discussion of the implications of these developments for the corporate governance of football clubs.