Sheffield Wednesday slammed in fan engagement study - improvements expected

A study into supporter engagement and structural fan involvement has ranked only one EFL club lower than Sheffield Wednesday.

The ‘Think Fan Engagement’ study, which centres on data collected during the 2019/20 season up until the end of May, was released on Wednesday and put the Owls in 89th place out of the 91 clubs that participated in the EFL last year.

Only Swindon Town and the now sadly defunct Macclesfield Town were rated lower.

The study is based on evidence of three central indicators; Dialogue, Governance and Transparency and considers factors such as existence and regularity of fan forums, whether fans or fan groups are placed in positions of power at clubs and the reporting of meetings to the public.

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri.

Wednesday were given a total rating of 20 points out of 240, a drop from their 2018/19 points total of 25 which saw them finish in 88th place. The data rated the club 0 out of 80 for Transparency.

Much of the weighting is on the balance of power at clubs, with Wednesday and other clubs penalised for not having a structure of fan decision-making on club matters.

It is understood that the club expect to fare much better in the study for the 2020/21 study given their commitment to opening up new avenues of fan involvement, including the formation of the Supporter Engagement Panel late last year.

Efforts were made to ensure a diverse Panel was created and all minutes from meetings are reported as a matter of routine on the club website.

While criticism continues over the handling of communication over the repayment of season tickets, the club have been praised for their social media and human engagement in recent months, piloting a number of initiatives during the club’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

The study recommends the utilisation of a properly-run Supporters’ Trust at clubs, allowing an elected Trust group to be installed in decision-making conversations via the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding.

One such Trust was set up by Wednesdayites early last year and remains, though Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri has resisted, instead choosing to incorporate a Trust representative into the wider Engagement Panel.

For the second year running Exeter City were ranked highest in the study. The highest-placed Championship club was Reading in eighth.

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