Lifeline for football clubs in financial crisis? Fans could have right to take them over

Rescued teams would avoid points deduction - helping to ensure they are 'not the sole preserve of wealthy owners'

Deputy Political Editor

Fans would have the automatic right to take over football clubs hit by financial crisis under plans to be considered by Labour.

The move would put this country's supporters on a par with their counterparts in Germany and Spain, where Bayern Munich, the European Cup holders, and Barcelona, the Spanish champions, are owned by their fans.

Details of the scheme are being drawn up by the Co-op Party, alongside proposals to boost investment in grassroots sport, and will be submitted to Labour's continuing policy review.

Under the proposals, fans would be given six months' grace to take over clubs that entered administration. If they succeeded, they would avoid a points deduction, which often intensifies their problems by leading to relegation.

A "right to observe" would be established to allow a representative from a Football Supporters Trust to attend club board meetings.

The Labour MP Gareth Thomas, the Co-op Party's chair, said the moves would "help ensure clubs are not the sole preserve of wealthy owners".

He said: "Fans are the foundation of every successful football club and deserve a greater say in how their club is run."

Three of the 92 professional football clubs in England and Wales are owned by supporters' trusts - Portsmouth, Exeter City and AFC Wimbledon, all of which are in League 2.

Swansea City is the only Premiership club to have a supporters' trust representative on its board.

The Co-op is also considering plans to create a "backstop" power to divert a proportion of clubs' broadcasting income into grassroots sports, including extra coaching facilities.

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