Sports teams owned by their fans should be given tax breaks to help to boost the economies of local communities by nearly £270,000 a year, according to a report launched in Parliament tomorrow.
Research for Supporters Direct, a government-backed body that is best known for helping fans to run football clubs, shows that teams and their local areas would benefit from breaks such as Gift Aid on donations and exemption from corporation tax.
Although this would cost taxpayers nearly £26,000 a year per club, the boost in investment and volunteering would be worth £294,000.
Jesse Norman, the Conservative MP who is chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, launched the research on Monday. James Mathie, club development manager at Supporters Direct, said: "With the right model, sports clubs can be central hubs of delivering benefits in their community - and community ownership provides added value that other forms of ownership cannot. We believe it's time to help clubs that embrace democratic ownership, binding community benefit functions and protect sports assets."
Supporters Direct is working with HM Revenue & Customs to refine the proposal. At present, the suggestion is that a new status would be established, called Community Owned Sports Clubs (COSC) , for teams that are more than 90 per cent owned by a democratic community organisation.
The German model, whereby 51 per cent of top-flight Bundesliga teams must be owned by club members, is held out as a shining example of how football should be run. Fan ownership has also been popularised by the success of AFC Wimbledon, now in League Two, which was set up by fans after the original south-west London team moved to Milton Keynes.
The report states: "The COSC scheme is specific, realisable and founded in evidence of the public benefit it can generate. It builds on an existing tax scheme and precedents."
Clive Efford, the shadow sport minister, has a private members' bill going through Parliament that would require football teams to sell supporters shares in the club upon a change of ownership.
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