28 March 2017

By Martin Buckley

Back in October 2016 the Alliance Council sent our updated and revised Constitution out to The Alliance for a ratification vote. Very quickly we realised that one part of that document had unintended consequences for our incredible Supporter Groups.

The specific issue was around the recognition of Supporter Groups. When you travel to an away match under the umbrella of a Supporter Group several important things happen. Safety, security, access to the ground – these are all pre-negotiated before the game. There are also MLS, Club and Stadium specific Supporter Group Exemptions around flags, two-poles and the like. All of this would be lost if a Supporter Group lost recognition.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the deep knowledge, history, context and support from Dave Clark, Glenn White and others.

To resolve these issues Alliance Council set up a working group and each of the Supporter Groups nominated a representative to that group. Our mutual intent was to build the right solution for this – and for it to be acceptable to each Supporter Group.

Tom Conquergood – Gorilla FC
Brian Dilks – Eastside Supporters
Glenn White – Emerald City Supporters
Steve Wilson – North End Faithful

After a long, productive day working through intent, process and many, many “what if” scenarios we came up with a revised Alliance Council Bylaw. The text is below, it is due for Second Reading and formal adoption in our next Alliance Council meeting in April 2017.

In short:

  • Alliance Council is the body that recognises Supporter Groups.
  • Requirements to be recognised are as before:
    • Named leadership, 25 paid members
    • History of group participation in support for our Club – Seattle Sounders FC
    • Appropriate registration of the corporate entity (non-profit, 501(c)3 etc)
  • Alliance Council will check for Supporter Group activity at the start of the business year and report active Supporter Groups and no longer active Supporter Groups to the Club

There was much conversation about “non active” Supporter Groups and de-recognition. Language was changed to reflect that Supporter Group status can move from active to no-longer active. We preferred this language to “inactive” to clear distinguish between Supporter Groups who are active – and receive Club engagement, Supporter Group Exemption recognition etc – and those that no longer meet the above requirements.

De-recognition was removed from the language of this bylaw. In short there are mechanisms to impose sanctions on a Supporter Group from both MLS and from the Club – as Alliance Council we did not want to impinge on those.

To close I would like to thank the leadership and members of all four Supporter Groups – Eastside Supporters, Emerald City Supporters, Gorilla FC, North End Faithful. They all deserve your consideration as you look to extend your fan experience.

Bylaw 7 – Supporter Group Recognition
As proposed 11 February 2017, modified to strike Non-recognition at Alliance Council 7 March 2017

7.1 Standards.

The relationship between Supporter Groups, the Alliance, and the Club, has a unique nature. As such, it benefits all parties to have a set of minimum standards for groups to attain, demonstrating their commitment.

Therefore, for formal recognition as a supporter group, groups must meet and maintain the following standards to receive Active Status.

  • Identified group leadership which is responsible for coordination and can speak on behalf of the group
  • At least twenty-five (25) identified, paid members
  • Organized participation as a group in support activities
  • Established history of conducting supporter group activities in support of the Club
  • Have appropriate corporate entity registration with their local state (for example non-profit, 501(c)3 etc)

7.2  Procedure for recognition.

The following procedure is used for a proposed Supporter Group to receive Alliance Council recognition:

  • Make a request for recognition as a Supporter Group to the Executive Committee or other Committee created by the Alliance Council assigned to this task.
  • Provide documentation to the Executive Committee showing that all the required standards set forth in Paragraph 7.1 have been met.

7.3 List of Supporter Groups

At the start of the Business Year:

  • Alliance Council will confirm active status of Supporter Groups through contact with that Supporter Group leadership that they are active for the forthcoming year.
  • Alliance Council will provide a list of active Supporter Groups to the Club.

7.4   No Longer Active Supporter Groups

Supporter Groups which are not meeting the requirements of Bylaw 7.1 will be deemed to be in a No Longer Active status. No Longer Active Supporter Groups may not receive benefits from the MLS Supporter Group Exemptions.