Supporter groups call for Fan Led Review to put community ownership of clubs within reach

An independent regulator is expected to be the big recommendation from the review

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Tuesday 09 November 2021 21:51 GMT
(Getty Images)

More than 20 supporters groups from the Football League and beyond have signed a joint letter to Tracey Crouch MP, calling for action to bring community ownership of clubs, ahead of the publication of the Fan Led Review of Football Governance.

The Independent has been told there has been some frustration from those within football at how the process has so far gone, having been initiated following the collapse of the Super League plan in April 2021. There is a fear that some obvious concerns at the top of the game will be addressed, but little being done for more core issues lower down the pyramid.

With issues like the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United only putting further focus on the nature of ownerships, more than 20 groups from the Championship through to the National League have signed a letter that calls for more mechanisms that facilitate supporter ownership.

The letter states:

"We write to you today – as representatives of Supporters Trusts and community organisations – to both make the case for greater fan ownership of our football clubs, and to demonstrate the widespread support for community ownership across the game.

"We understand that the Fan Led Review of Football Governance is likely to recommend a football regulator to help place the game on a more sustainable footing and a ‘golden share’ to ensure that the most egregious anti-fan steps can be blocked.

"That’s a good start. But it’s not enough. Fans should have more than an opportunity to block the very worst an out-of-touch owner can do. We should open the door to allow more fans to own their own clubs.

"The Fan Led Review must, therefore, find a way to open the door for fan-ownership. When clubs are put up for sale, all too often Supporters Trusts can’t even get on the pitch because of the need for day one capital – even when they can show a sound long-term business plan. That has to change - Power to Change, for example, have suggested the establishment of a Community Club Ownership Trust to help fan groups get over that first hurdle.

"Football without the fans is nothing. It’s time to shift the balance of the game back towards the communities that make it what it is.

"Today, there are too many barriers to supporter ownership. The Fan Led Review should help tear them down.’"

Publishing the letter, the CEO of Power to Change, Vidhya Alakeson said:

“Football may be our national sport but it is the clubs and grounds, large and small, that are the beating hearts of our communities. That’s why it is vital that the Fan Led Review addresses all the issues facing all clubs and avoids becoming a sticking plaster for the problems at the top of the game.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to put football back on a sustainable footing. But the review must create real change beyond the Premier League and ensure clubs up and down the pyramid remain tethered to the communities from which they were created. Greater support for fan and community ownership of our football clubs will help to keep these precious spaces in the community.

“Supporters Trusts want to see the door opened to community ownership, and more than 70 per cent of all fans do too. The desire is there – now it’s up to the Fan Led Review to deliver real change.”

The Football Supporters' Association Head of Community Ownership, Andy Walsh, meanwhile added:

"The Football Supporters' Association believes that 20 years of supporter ownership has shown that clubs can be more financially stable when supporters own a stake in their club. The football pyramid in the UK is made up of over a thousand clubs and is the deepest and strongest anywhere in the world. Clubs at all levels could benefit from the active involvement of supporters as owners or part owners of their clubs, with benefits for the club and community as a whole. We believe there is huge scope for greater supporter ownership across the game."

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