The Labour Governments policy announcement that, if re-elected, it will seek to empower football supporters by forcing clubs either to hand over 25% of the shares to supporters groups or allow them first refusal on any shares that come up for sale is the sort of pre-election populist measure that may not survive long after the election, but at least it has opened the debate as an election issue.
There would be a number of problems under company law that would make it difficult to legislate for such plans and recognising this other parties have suggested alternatives such as supporter appointed directors and an overhaul of the FA but these wouldn`t have anything like the effect shareholding supporters would have.
The Guardian outlines the main points of the proposals as:
* Requiring clubs to hand a stake of up to 25% to fans in recognition of their links with their local community.
* Implementing a change-of-control clause that would allow fans a window to put together a takeover of their club if it was up for sale or went into administration.
* Giving the football authorities a deadline to reform the FA and remove ‘vested interests’ from the board, and streamline decision making.
* Introducing a unified system of governance that co-ordinates issues such as club ownership and youth development.
* Allowing professional leagues and the FA additional oversight of club takeovers.
The idea has the approval of Uefa chief Michel Platini who said: “Personally, I think it is a great idea ? that the supporters invest in a club because they, at the end of the day, defend the club’s identity”
Supporters would be right to be cynical enough to fear that the current political enthusiasm for their well being may not survive for long but whether it proves a vote winner or not it is encouraging to think that politics recognises the issue as important enough to think it might be.
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