Ian Herbert: Labour's promise is a small but significant step forward


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The Independent Football

There has been plenty of hot air floating around football in the past week. Politicians promising results on everything from reducing the price of season tickets to declaring the pointlessness of third kits. Is it really four years since the Coalition promised help to achieve cooperative ownership of clubs? Tax breaks for supporters’ trusts, perhaps? We hoped so. It never happened.

It would have been easy for Labour to promise to screw clubs to a wall, interfering in football’s free market, and leaving these ideas doomed to being blown away by European law. The encouraging aspect of Labour’s proposals on football governance today is that they are achievable.

The notion of supporters’ trusts being allowed to appoint and remove up to 25 per cent of their club’s board will generate interest, though it may merely presage the creation of an inner kitchen cabinet from which a trust could be excluded. More interesting is the right of fans to have first preference to buy up to 10 per cent of a club when it comes up for sale. The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) articulated it well by saying football’s commercial activity was not the problem but “where those revenues go and who benefits from them”.

These plans “seek to assist fans to obtain equity in their clubs without interfering in the current ownership, albeit one we remain opposed to,” MUST concluded. A small, potentially significant step for football.