The Conroy Report – A Quick Appraisal

By Barry Worthington

The Conroy Report on our domestic league which was made public earlier this week runs to over seventy pages dealing with pretty much every problem – and indeed also many of the positives – that are to be found in the league.

From the point of view of a member of a supporters’ trust, there were a few issues of note worth looking at.

Sustainability of clubs is something that matters to everyone involved with the League, from players to fans, FAI officials to referees and even beyond to local communities and businesses. The Report gives a figure of roughly €13M as the combined revenue of all twenty league clubs in 2014. That’s a pretty miserable average of just €650,000 per club with the figure reported for our own club at slightly under €300,000. (The twelve top flight clubs in Denmark, a similar sized country to Ireland, have a combine annual income of just over €300M).

With income levels that low, the report touches on the lack of full-time paid administrators around the league (less than one per club on average) and how that slack is being picked up by volunteers. While this will be of no surprise to anyone attending league matches on any sort of a regular basis, it presses the issue with regard to expertise (or rather the lack of it) that therefore is to be found within clubs.

The 1895 Trust’s position on the future of Shelbourne FC’s ownership structure would hope to meet the challenge of this issue head on. The Trust’s proposal to have our club co-operatively owned with a low cost membership entry fee would allow the greatest number of our supporters, and therefore their wide ranging expertise, to be utilised to the maximum benefit of the club and it would also give way to the possibility of extending the size of the fanbase by allowing newer/less regular attendees at matches to become involved as opposed to other forms of ownership/membership which may be viewed as more “closed shop” as it were.

This form of fan ownership, combined with a restriction on serving terms at board level, would also help to avoid the “fatigue” issue mentioned in the report with too few volunteers carrying out too many tasks for too long a period of time.

A further benefit one could expect from this form of ownership would help deal with another issue mentioned in the report – season ticket sales. The benefits of higher season ticket sales mentioned in the report are guaranteed up front income and locked-in loyalty – and an obvious one not mentioned: a likely higher increase of spending within the stadium by a season ticket holder over a fan who has just paid €15 at the gate. There is no doubt that a club with a wider numbers of co-owners would see an increase in season ticket sales due to a closer connection to the club as a participant within its’ ownership structure.

The report also looks positively at many of the points raised by the “Heart of the Game” handbook of the Irish Supporters Network. Every football club if it is to thrive needs to place itself at the centre of its’ local community and there are many recommendations listed for clubs to take on. This is something The 1895 Trust sees as crucial to the future of Shelbourne Football Club, something on which the club has had mixed results with since returning to Tolka Park in 1989, and a key area of the club’s future growth strategy that must be addressed especially with an expect move to a new location in the short-term.

Finally, the report also mentions fans and volunteerism. While it might go without saying, it’s right that the loyalty of fans and the dedication of many who give their time freely to help their clubs should be documented. The report gives a figure of 25,000 hours volunteered just towards the running of matchdays. This type of commitment by fans can’t but give a further voice to the argument for fan ownership.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Football People week drawing competition

The first Football People Action Weeks Drawing Competition will see the winning entry featured on the cover of the Shelbourne FC matchday programme.

Primary school children aged six and up are invited to submit drawings around the theme of diversity in football.

Drawings which deal with the inclusion of ethnic minorities, women and LGBT people in football are particularly welcomed.

The winning entrant will also receive a Shelbourne FC home jersey, a Shels goodie bag and tickets to a Shels home match. The second- and third-placed entrants will also win tickets to a Shels home match.

The Football People action weeks unites supporters, clubs, ethnic minorities and communities affected by discrimination across the continent in a concerted effort to make discrimination a thing of the past.

What started as a minor campaign in nine countries in 2001 has now become the largest series of anti-discrimination activities in sport. In 2014, over 2,000 activities took place in 59 countries, with some of Europe’s top stars – like Didier Drogba, Gianluigi Buffon and Eric Abidal – supporting the campaign.

All UEFA Europa League, Champions League and EURO 2016 Qualifying matches took part in the campaign, reaching fans directly at the matches and millions more through television. In 2014, 24 leagues participated in the Action Weeks and 18 European FAs actively supported the initiative.

The entries will be judged by Niall Farrell, editor of the Shelbourne FC matchday programme, Lee Daly, chair of The 1895 Trust, and Rosie McCormack, graphic designer with Irish Country magazine.

Drawings should be emailed to or posted to The 1895 Trust, 17 Beaufield Avenue, Maynooth, Co. Kildare by Saturday October 10th. The winning entry will be displayed on the cover of the matchday programme for the match against Cobh Ramblers on October 17th.


  • All participants must be between the ages of 6-12 as of Saturday October 10th.
  • Entrants can use pencil, charcoal, pen or ink, felt-tip markers, crayon, pastel, water colours, gouache, acrylics, oils, poster colour or collage.  Prints done from a lino block, wood block or any other method may also be submitted.  Computer-aided designs may not be entered.
  • The text of the theme does not have to be illustrated on your artwork. We are looking for your interpretation of the theme through your art.
  • Entries should be scanned and then emailed to If you do not have a scanner available, please post entries to the above email address.
  • Entries must be original and unaided work.
  • The Judging Panel is responsible for the allocation of awards and the decision of the Judging Panel is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding that decision.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plaque unveiling – September 4th

Friday September 4th will see the unveiling of a commemorative plaque celebrating the foundation of Shelbourne Football Club 120 years ago.

The plaque will be unveiled by Dublin City Council on an exterior wall of Slattery’s (formerly Nolan’s) pub beside Shelbourne Road – after which the club is named.

Slattery’s, on Grand Canal Street, is opposite Haddington Road. See directions here.

The unveiling will take place on September 4th @ 3pm sharp and will be followed by entertainment in Slattery’s.

All are welcome – and supporters are encouraged to wear their colours for the occasion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A visit to Broadhurst Park

Last week Trust PRO Niall Farrell travelled to Manchester to attend Supporters’ Direct’s Supporters’ Summit. FC United of Manchester kindly organised a tour of their new ground, Broadhurst Park, for Niall. Thanks to FCUM, in particular Des Lynch and Vinny Thompson, for facilitating Niall.

image1 (1)

Walking up from the Metrolink tram stop towards Broadhurst Park, I recalled the last time I had visited FC United of Manchester – and what had changed for the club since then.

It was three years ago in Bury’s Gigg Lane, and FC were playing in the Northern Premier League against Chorley FC. Even though FC lost 1-0, it was a fantastic experience. The atmosphere was unlike anything I’d ever experienced – and you could really sense that there was a sense of community around the club.

The far stand - complete with flags and banners.

The far stand – complete with flags, banners and TV gantry.

Still, they were playing in Gigg Lane. This was another club’s ground – and had been that club’s ground for almost 120 years. To put it in perspective, this would be like Shelbourne moving to play in Bray Wanderers’ Carlisle Grounds. Bury – although in the Greater Manchester area – is a distinct town with its own history and community. Supporters going to FC United matches in Gigg Lane may have felt part of the FC United community – but the evidence that this was really Bury FC territory was never far from your eyes.

In contrast, Broadhurst Park is truly FC United’s ground. Situated in Moston – it’s about a 20 minute tram journey from the city centre. FC have been doing sterling work to steep themselves in the local community – as evidenced by the inclusion of community classrooms, conference areas and community gardens at the new ground. There are areas for beekeeping and growing vegetables, and supporters have even brewed their own craft beer that’s served in the club bar. Everything about Broadhurst Park seems to be angled at the community. That community is defined as being broader than the activity of going football – hence the big emphasis on participation – but make no mistake, those interested in football are well catered for.

This area - under the former Northwich Victoria stand - was used as an impromptu bar for the inaugural match against Benfica. Long-term, it will be converted into community classrooms.

This area – under the former Northwich Victoria stand – was used as an impromptu bar for the inaugural match against Benfica. Long-term, it will be converted into community classrooms.

Safe standing terraces, the subject of much discussion in the UK – although widespread in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, feature prominently. The main stand contains the aforementioned club bar, as well as the club’s offices and ticketing area. On the day I visited, there was a volunteer’s meeting being held in the bar, which comfortably held thirty or forty people seated on chairs.

image2 (1)

The other stand was (partly) once Northwich Victoria’s Dane Bank terrace. 1874 Northwich, the fan-owned club formed in 2012 after the owner of Northwich Vics had been declared bankrupt, gave FC United their blessing to use the stand.

The stand made from parts on the old Dale Park terrace, once of Northwich Victoria FC.

The stand made from parts on the old Dale Park terrace, once of Northwich Victoria FC.

The ground will be shared with Moston Juniors, the local youth side – as well as FC United’s women’s team. As you enter the ground, there are astro-turf pitches for training on. There is also an empty patch of grass just in front of the ground. When I asked what that was being used for, I was told that it’s there for youngsters to have a kickabout on matchdays.

The training pitches in front of the ground - the empty area for playing around on is just to the left in this picture.

The training pitches in front of the ground – the empty area for playing around on is just to the left in this picture.

This probably exemplifies the FC United ethos as well as anything else. The club is about providing a space for the wider community, with football at its core. Other clubs in the Manchester area have statues outside their ground to show their tradition and ethos.
With FCUM, you get the feeling that no statues will ever be necessary. Broadhurst Park is the perfect monument.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 1895 Trust Update – July 13th, 2015

Volunteering with the Trust

We’re holding a volunteers’ meeting on July 17th in the Tolka Bar before kick off with the aim of getting as many people as possible involved in the Trust’s work. Details of specific vacancies can be found here.


We’d also particularly like to encourage people to come up with ideas fundraisers and help us to organise them. The club also require a wide range of skills, and we have referred some members onward to the board in the past.


Please contact with any ideas you might have – and please encourage anyone you know to come along to the volunteers’ meeting on July 17th.



Membership Targets Reminder

Having exceeded our goal of 100 members by the end of May, the Committee of Management has set the following goals for the remainder of the season:


  • 120 members by the end of July
  • Over 100 members paying by monthly subscription
  • Over members by the end of the season


We ask all members to do what they can to help us achieve these goals. A large membership base promotes our legitimacy when dealing with any bodies, as well as promoting internal debate and improving our resources.



Cork City Video

Following the well-documented documentary of the Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers derby, Copa 90 has made a documentary about Cork City, for which they attended City’s Europa League match against K.R. Reykjavik. The short video highlights the endless possibilities of mutual fan-ownership of a football club, as Cork City have qualified for European competition on a stable financial footing just five years into their own fan-ownership project. You can find the video here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment