Supporter owned football clubs

Hey, go for it folks.

But those who wanted football to carry on here acted admirably quickly, and launched the new Chester FC as a \”phoenix club\”. Crucially, it\’s a mutual: owned by its supporters, who can pay a minimum of £5 a season to become active shareholders. And it is not alone: the night I watched them play, their opponents in the Evo-Stik League premier division were the fan-owned FC United Of Manchester, founded in protest against the debt-laden misrule of the Glazer family. There is also AFC Wimbledon – whose fans took similar umbrage at their old club\’s move to Milton Keynes and are now back in the Football League – and, among others, Brentford, Exeter City, Cambridge City, and good old Runcorn Linnets.

If that\’s the way you want to organise things then you go and organise things that way. Isn\’t the freedom and liberty to do your own thing a glorious possession?

As soon as it becomes law, they want government and local authorities to aggressively use the provisions of the localism bill to identify football clubs as assets of community value, thus opening the way for mutualised local ownership. More generally, they\’re pushing for a sports law that will recognise that clubs amount to much more than privately owned businesses, and toughen the regulation on who can own them.

No, fuck off. The freedom and liberty for you to do your own thing necessarily means that others have the limilar liberty and freedom to do their own thing. You don\’t get to use the law to confiscate the property of others.

4 thoughts on “Supporter owned football clubs”

  1. It’s telling just how quickly they have latched on to the fact that the country runs on rent-seeking. It’s not about how well you perform, or how efficient you are, it’s about how much money and influence you can extract out of the political system.

  2. It depends on whether you believe football to be primarily a business or not. If it is a business it is a rather poor one for those who run clubs – almost none come near to making the sort of profit that would make them a rational investment. Clubs in the higher divisions are more business-like (even if they don’t behave very rationally) than those in lower divisions just because they are more able to say that their fans are not their main customer group and can therefore make decisions which focus on what is best for them as a business.

    For lower division clubs which have largely local fan bases, the majority of which will attend at least some games a season, the thing which keeps them going is retaining that support. The sources of revenue for such clubs other than from their fans are limited. There aren’t many (any?) other businesses where the failures of the owners are routinely remedied by customers willing to keep the “business” going without looking to make a profit and for the benefit of others.

    The irony is that the successful supporter-owned clubs tend to inject rather more financial sense into the running of their clubs than those which are owned by billionaires. They can’t sustain excessive debts so have to balance their books as best they can because the very last thing they would do if at all possible is see their club go bust.

    There’s no real issue of confiscating the property of others – almost all clubs would be considered by a trustee in bankruptcy to be onerous assets. If there is anything in the idea that a club is more than just a piece of potentially developable land with an inconvenient loss-making business on it it isn’t such a bad thing to make ownership of a club dependent on accepting that.

  3. @Botzarelli: “There’s no real issue of confiscating the property of others” – so if you had a business that you ran at a loss or break-even point (a small pub or shop for example), for reasons that are entirely your own, you’d be quite happen for ‘the community’ to confiscate your assets would you?

    I don’t think so. And if rich businessmen wish to fritter their fortunes away on keeping loss making football clubs afloat for reasons of personal vanity, then that is entirely their business. It matters not that they have to inject cash every year to keep them going. As long as they pay their bills, its all above board. And any assets the clubs might have (players/buildings/land) are the property of the owners, not ‘the community’.

    I don’t see many of the fans wanting to become owners when the money runs out and a club faces bankruptcy. They don’t fancy putting their own money on the line to pay the debts and buy the club then. Oh no, they want someone else to do that, usually some stupid local businessman who has more money than sense. Now they want to expropriate private assets for free.

    This country is fast becoming a parody of Atlas Shrugged.

  4. This is a complete red herring. With the exception of about a quarter of the premiership, all of England’s football clubs are supporter-owned. The reason for this is that, other than the few global marketing brands, they cannot be run at a profit. Usually they are owned by one or a few rich supporters, but some from time to time come into the hands of large groups of less wealthy supporters.

    It is not obtaining ownership of a lower-league club that is difficult, it is funding its ongoing losses.

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