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Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Football fans want say over way their clubs are run

David Beckham
David Beckham donned an anti-Glazer scarf at Old Trafford

Over 80% of Manchester United fans and 70% of Liverpool supporters believe their respective clubs would be better run if they were co-operatively owned.

Supporters at both clubs, who meet on Sunday in the Premier League, have raised concerns over the debt their American owners have saddled them with.

"It's time to let the fans have a real say in the running of their clubs," said Ed Mayo of Co-operatives UK.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 fans was commissioned by Co-operatives UK.

Liverpool's American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are obliged to reduce the club's £237m debt with Royal Bank of Scotland by £100m by this summer.

United's debt is nearly three times that level - £716.5m - and a number of wealthy United fans - "The Red Knights" - want to wrestle control of the club away from the Glazer family.

Working with the "Red Knights" is the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (Must), which is running a vocal campaign to bring about a change of ownership and has recruited nearly 150,000 members.

"We know there's a huge appetite out there to change the ownership at United," said Must chief executive Duncan Drasdo.

According to the survey, United supporters would be willing to invest an average of just over £600 each to buy the club.

"This shows there's the commitment and the will amongst supporters to play a significant role in any bid and new ownership structure," added Drasdo.

Dave Boyle, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, the group that promotes fan ownership, believes debt had become the key issue for football fans.

"Fans are realising that the choice is a simple one - pay someone else's debts off and at the end, those people own it, or buy it yourself," said Boyle.

"These clubs should never have been allowed to be bought on the back of leveraged debt, but if the game's authorities won't act in the defence of our clubs, fans will have to."

Like the "Red Knights" and Must, a Liverpool supporters group - The Spirit of Shankly - targets supporter representation at Anfield.

Of the 2,132 fans polled, 172 were United supporters, 136 were Liverpool fans, with 56% of those surveyed backing the idea of co-operative ownership.

Co-operatives UK is the national member-owned and led organisation that promotes the interests of co-operatives.

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see also
Red Knights get advisers for bid
11 Mar 10 |  Business
Financiers 'discuss Man Utd bid'
02 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Red Knights get serious
11 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Who are the Red Knights?
11 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Ferguson rejects Red Knights link
07 Mar 10 |  Man Utd

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