Fan owned football clubs are such an obviously good thing

Why don’t we, as some insist we should, impose this upon our own leagues?

A club that should have set the standards for the world game, a fan-owned cooperative,

In its most recent published accounts in June last year, Barcelona reported a negative working capital – debts that exceeded short-term assets. Encompassing debts of €320 million (£284m) to other clubs in transfer fees; bank borrowing of €280m (£249m); bonds of €200m (£178m); unpaid wages of €200m; debts to suppliers of €84m (£75m), and public administrators €55m (£49m). The club’s €146m (£130m) state-backed credit line was eaten up by last summer’s six-monthly wage bill.

In short, Barcelona are broke. Their total debts exceed €1 billion


14 thoughts on “Fan owned football clubs are such an obviously good thing”

  1. But no doubt some ‘football loving’ billionaire will arrive to launder cash save the club, buy a few trophies players and the fans will be ecstatic. As the man said “You will own nothing and you will be happy”.

  2. It’s one thing I will never understand about football supporters. They might as well be supporting a particular brand of laundry detergent. It’s a business, not a sport.

  3. Interesting deal with CVC though. Also the fact that they let Messi go citing “league regulations”.

  4. DMcD

    Bosman innit ? When a player is out of contract with a club, he is a free agent. Not like the old days when players could be shackled in perpetual servitude. Not sure if Bosman ruling was ever tested in the Spanish courts, but all leagues were required to adopt it.

    A propos fan owned clubs. Yeah but no but… Real Madrid is the same as are all German clubs. Essentially the shareholders demand success and as a club becomes a behemoth like Barca then it develops into a self sustaining all devouring monster. Success comes at a price and a club with such a pedigree has to be able to compete at the highest level. The big clubs feed the inflation with their ambition and the fans are oblivious to the cost – how many are really interested in the debts ? Look at the shiny cups.

    The Reckoning is coming, if not already here. Many German clubs are struggling to compete and a lot of big names have been relegated lately. The league there will deflate, whereas in Spain, France and England they will implode.

  5. Ottokring – the Bosman ruling is European law, so it doesn’t need to be tested in Spanish courts, it just is. The league/clubs in England had it all sorted about 30 years prior, with Jimmy “The Chin” Hill, the maximum wage and the restraint of trade action.

    Messi’s registration is kind of interesting, as all player’s registrations would be wasting assets, but Messi’s is probably toxic as well, I guess there would have been a step change some time ago. I also suppose that the registration is some kind of title or chose under English law, and that something similar exists under Spanish law. Unless there’s something specific somewhere, which might actually end up getting tested once the shit hits the fan.

    Not all Spanish clubs have the fan ownership/club model, and not all German, etc, etc.

    Part of the background here is that up until seven years ago, La Liga didn’t sell rights on a collective model as with the Premier League. There was a similar situation in Italy some ten or fifteen years before where nearly no club could sell their individual rights and the start of the league season was delayed until it was resolved (probably badly, it is Italy after all).

  6. Ottokring

    Interesting assessment – saw Schalke and Werder relegated last year in Germany and thought it might be the prelude to a rebalancing… Could well be coming for the other bigger European Leagues. Clearly the model as is is unsustainable..

  7. John – over last summer a figure being bandied around by Simon Jordan was that the average cash/equivalents balance available to PL clubs in normal times was £20mln.

    Suggests that some large number of PL clubs had zero cash available by the time the 2020/21 season started. With no fans. If the average ground capacity is 30,000, and the average ticket price is £25, then 19 home games a season raises £14m or thereabouts.

  8. It’s not just a case of clubs being owned by oligarchs, you need an oligarch who treats it as a hobby (Chelsea) rather than as a cash-cow investment (Arsenal).

    Without being disrespectful I have always been confused by the “small club” tag given to Leicester City whose late owner was reportedly worth $4.9 billion in 2018 yet his club still chose or were obliged to sell players of the calibre of Kante, Mahrez, Maguire, Chilwell and Drinkwater (shrewd move) from memory bringing in around £250m. If that’s a small club what the hell does it say about the rest?

  9. John – in which case, you run slap bang into the FFP regs. City’s activities have been queried twice now.

    Don’t confuse the apparent net worth (which will include cash/equivalents) of the owner, with how the club is structured, with an entirely separate balance sheet.

    FWIW, the small club moniker usually relates to a combination of audience and trophies, and the two are related. See Newcastle. These days, the audience is global anyway.

    £250m is a large amount to find down the back of the sofa, but compared to FTSE100 or 250 firms, the square root of sweet fuck all. Football clubs have high, global profiles, but only a handful are actually large businesses by any comparable metric. Last time I looked, Manchester United were about half the size of the smallest FTSE100 constituent.

  10. It strikes me that pro soccer clubs are always going to be inherently financially unstable. To avoid failure, you must fund your season as if you are going to succeed. Eg, buy the best players you can. Unfortunately this cannot work for every club, hence the difficulties.

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