Government review of football will explore alternative ownership models for clubs

Tracey Crouch says finances and governance will be up for grabs

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 23 April 2021 13:23
<p>German football teams are all majority-owned by fans</p>

German football teams are all majority-owned by fans

The government's review of football will look at how the sport is governed, its finances, and alternative ownership models for clubs, it has been confirmed.

The terms of reference of the inquiry, to be chaired by former sports minister and Tory MP Tracey Crouch was announced after six Premier League clubs announced their intention to join a breakaway European Super League.

The clubs has since U-turned after a near-unanimous backlash from fans, but the episode raised questions about the role of money in the Beautiful Game.

"Football means so much to so many people in this country and my review will be firmly focused on the fans," Ms Crouch said in a statement.

"It will look closely at the issues of governance, ownership and finance and take the necessary steps to retain the game’s integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community."

The English premier league is one of the most financialised football competitions in the world, with huge inflows of cash from investors taking over clubs.

Proponents of the current model say it has made English football renowned over the world, but critics say the free-for-all has created instability and made clubs remote from their supporters.

A number of football clubs have collapsed in recent years, including Bury who were expelled from the Football League in 2019, and Macclesfield Town who were wound up last year after a High Court ruling, having been founded in 1874.

Other countries have different ownership models and operate tighter restrictions on how clubs can be run and finances.

One model often named is that of Germany, whose rules say 51 per cent of any sports club must be owned by fans – limiting the input of private capital.

Proponents of the approach say this was one factor behind no German club deciding to join the super league.

Announcing the inquiry's terms of reference, sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: "Football begins and ends with fans and we have seen that passionately displayed this week. It must be a watershed moment in our national game.

“We must capitalise on this momentum. Clubs are the beating heart of their local communities and this important review will help put football on a surer footing for the future where supporters voices are heard."

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