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Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 16:22 UK

Government may offer fans chance to buy stake in clubs

Football fans
Fans could get an increased chance to influence the running of their club

Supporters could be given the chance to buy a stake in their club under radical proposals being considered by Labour in their election manifesto.

The party wants fans to have a bigger say in how clubs are run amid current concerns about debt in football.

That could include fans being offered a chance to buy a 25% stake in a club.

BBC sports editor David Bond said: "There's a feeling that football isn't quite working and that fans are getting a bit of a tough deal."

Government lawyers are trying to work out how to make the proposals work within the existing structure of the game.

The initiative comes amid increasing concern about the degree of debt at some Premier League clubs; foreign ownership of teams; and the perceived low levels of commitment from shareholders with little affinity with the clubs.


The idea has been backed by Michel Platini, the president of European football's governing body, Uefa.

He 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.

"They (the fans) are always there. They are always watching the games."

The government is also said to be looking at an overhaul of the governance of football.

The Conservatives dismissed the proposals as a "gimmick" ahead of the general election, which is expected to be on 6 May.

Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson said there were easier ways of increasing supporter influence in clubs such as by insisting on all clubs having at least one director to represent supporters.

"After 13 years of inactivity by the government on this issue this has all the hallmarks of a pre-election gimmick," said Robertson.

"There are massive, massive implications for company law and insolvency law."

Robertson said changing the rules on governance to increase supporter influence at clubs would be quicker and easier to implement.

Dave Boyle, chief executive of Supporters Direct - the group that promotes fan ownership of football clubs, welcomed the discussions at party level.

He said: "The two parties - one of which will form the basis of the next government - both agree fans should have a stake in the clubs they support and are pledged to work to make it happen.

"That's great news for the trust movement and long-overdue recognition that clubs aren't businesses like any other.

"We look forward to the next government - whoever it is - putting fans at the heart of the game and we will work with them to make it happen."

Liberal Democrat shadow culture, media and sport secretary, Don Foster said: "Supporter ownership is a nice idea but will be nothing more than a pipe dream for most fans.

"We urgently need a radical overhaul of the FA to better represent supporters and act in the interests of the game.

"Ministers need to promise to look at other issues of desperate importance to fans, like ticket prices, safe standing and facilities for disabled supporters."

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see also
Rangers boss open to fans' buyout
29 Mar 10 |  Rangers
Red Knights delay Man Utd offer
26 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Financiers 'discuss Man Utd bid'
02 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
Chester fans choose new club name
25 Mar 10 |  Chester

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