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Giving the game back to supporters

Giving the game back to supporters

The Labour Governments policy announcement that, if re-elected, it will seek to empower football supporters by forcing clubs either to hand over 25% of the shares to supporters groups or allow them first refusal on any shares that come up for sale is the sort of pre-election populist measure that may not survive long after the election, but at least it has opened the debate as an election issue.

There would be a number of problems under company law that would make it difficult to legislate for such plans and recognising this other parties have suggested alternatives such as supporter appointed directors and an overhaul of the FA but these wouldn`t have anything like the effect shareholding supporters would have.

The Guardian outlines the main points of the proposals as:

* Requiring clubs to hand a stake of up to 25% to fans in recognition of their links with their local community.

* Implementing a change-of-control clause that would allow fans a window to put together a takeover of their club if it was up for sale or went into administration.

* Giving the football authorities a deadline to reform the FA and remove 'vested interests' from the board, and streamline decision making.

* Introducing a unified system of governance that co-ordinates issues such as club ownership and youth development.

* Allowing professional leagues and the FA additional oversight of club takeovers.

The idea has the approval of Uefa chief Michel Platini who said: "Personally, I think it is a great idea … that the supporters invest in a club because they, at the end of the day, defend the club's identity"

Supporters would be right to be cynical enough to fear that the current political enthusiasm for their well being may not survive for long but whether it proves a vote winner or not it is encouraging to think that politics recognises the issue as important enough to think it might be.

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Date:Tuesday March 30 2010
Time: 1:58AM


This might sound like a daft comment, but what's the point of owning 25% of the shares if someone else owns 75%? Investment without influence? Then again, the phrase "if re-elected" says it all...!
The Real Neil
30/03/2010 02:11:00
totally agree Neil, you still don't get a say so it is just empty tokenism, something that we should all be used to with the politicians I guess!
The Fear
30/03/2010 08:35:00
0,17033,8746_6060897,00.html This is a decent article on the same proposal. I think we all know this is an empty promise from a Government on the last legs of its credibility that is almost certainly on its way out. It's good I suppose that they at least consider this a populist issue, but once the Tories get in, can you really see Cameron and his merry band of Eton toffs telling oil rich Arab and US businessmen, "errrm, pardon me, would you mind giving some of your shares to Joe and Joan Public over there? Thanks muchly old chap."
Little Dutch
30/03/2010 08:36:00
Given Cameron's uncle, William Dugdale, was Villa chairman, it's possible. Though your brand of reverse snobbery and envy suggests to me you've already made your mind up!
The Real Neil
30/03/2010 10:52:00
Possibly legally impossible. FIFA also don't like national governments getting so involved in footballing matters. Heck, Togo have been banned from future tournaments because their government told them not to go back after they were shot! But Gordon Brown is nothing if not an expert at shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic. Nearer my God to Thee, indeed.
30/03/2010 11:01:00
The Bundesliga requires all clubs to be 51% owned by supporters and Barcelona and Real Madrid are owned by their members so it's unlikely to fall foul of FIFA. It would be difficult legally under existing company law so it would be a matter for the PL and/or the FA to agree to make a it a competition requirement. That's unlikely to happen willingly. The probability is that the current proposal will never come to light but if football supporters are being seen as an election target then some pressure to regulate football is likely to bring some changes.
30/03/2010 11:12:00
Is this not the same as the probem with the banks. A raft of headline grabbing ideas as the current regulation has proved to be insufficient. How are Fans going to buy into Arsenal at 10K per shares. 25% would cost 155.5M
30/03/2010 12:56:00
Blatant electioneering. Forget this one, it will never happen.
Sir Henry
30/03/2010 13:45:00
How would it work even if proposed. Would each share holder be forced to give up a percentage of their shares or sell them? At £8500 would any fan be able to afford them? Am i missing something basic here....
30/03/2010 16:06:00
Sorry Penz missed your comment.
30/03/2010 16:07:00
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