Labour proposal could address supporters’ concerns
Are football clubs being run badly? The Labour Party clearly think so, and under new legislation proposed by the current government, club owners may be forced to hand over up to 25% of the lucrative sporting assets to supporters groups, as well as giving fans the first option if they do plan on selling.
It’s a proposal that, if implemented, could answer the prayers of those supporters who feel their club is being mismanaged by those at the top. The news will most notably be of interest to the supporters of Manchester United and Liverpool, whose public protests in recent months have clearly struck a chord with those currently in charge in the capital.
If the government proposals were to be put in place then, along with the 25% handover and first option, fans could expect the FA to be given a deadline for reforming the association as well as removing all “vested interests” from the board. Additionally, the FA would be allowed oversights of club takeovers, ensuring that new owners are ‘fit and proper’.
The Premier League will no doubt be unhappy with the proposals, staunchly backing their free-market system even when the financial feasibility of some of the biggest clubs in Britain has come under scrutiny.
But with Portsmouth’s financial woes and the supposed impending doom at United and Liverpool, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to club ownership.
Possibly the most important question here is: where does the control end?
Of course some clubs would benefit from fan ownership, especially those currently facing financial uncertainty. But what of the Manchester City’s and Chelsea’s? Would fan groups really want to claim such a huge stake in clubs which are already being comfortably bankrolled? Perhaps they would want a small stake so they could have their say, but if the government tried to force the owner’s hand there’s no doubt they would be less inclined to keep hold of the club in the long-term.
The Conservative Party have claimed that the proposals are simply an election gimmick by Labour in order to win votes ahead of the next general election before June, but even if this is simply a false promise it is still a sign that football as an industry is of concern to the powers that be in the country. It is a sign that regardless of all the money in football, the government are still as worried about the ticket office worker whose job is under threat, or the fan whose pride and joy is at risk of extinction.