Fan Ownership

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Alan McCabe
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Fan Ownership

Post by Alan McCabe » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:24 pm

I can't believe the latest guff that some MSPs have passed for consideration at Holyrood. They are stating that fans' groups should be granted a virtual 'first refusal' if clubs are put up for sale.
Not surprisingly both the SPFL and SFA have criticised the move. Quite how private limited companies can have their futures determined by a government decree in a free market is unbelievable.
Can this lot not just concentrate on governing the country rather than sticking their collective noses into issues over which they should have little or no say? Nanny state gone mad!

the hibLOG
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Re: Fan Ownership

Post by the hibLOG » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:27 am

Alan McCabe wrote:I can't believe the latest guff that some MSPs have passed for consideration at Holyrood. They are stating that fans' groups should be granted a virtual 'first refusal' if clubs are put up for sale.
Not surprisingly both the SPFL and SFA have criticised the move. Quite how private limited companies can have their futures determined by a government decree in a free market is unbelievable.
Can this lot not just concentrate on governing the country rather than sticking their collective noses into issues over which they should have little or no say? Nanny state gone mad!
Valid points to an extent, but at the same time Alan we fans on here and elsewhere are frequently critical of the commercial imperative that private companies impose on our game and clubs and bemoan the absence of more community oriented management of these institutions which to us are far more important, socially and culturally, than mere profit. The wording and import of the resolution may be ill-thought through but the sentiment may have some value in it, no?
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Re: Fan Ownership

Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:41 am

Fan or community ownership only seems to come into play at the moment when the market fails. In other words it's the fans who are left to pick up the pieces when the boardroom screws up and there's no sugar daddy (or mammy, I wouldn't want to offend Hearts supporters) on the horizon. I agree it's not the role of government but the SFA & SPFL should be taking a lead here and insisting on supporter representation on club boards. They set the terms for membership of their respective bodies and there's nothing to stop them doing this themselves. As it stands, someone who rarely or never attends a match can snap up shares but supporters of decades standing who have ploughed thousands into clubs via the turnstiles or season tickets see no return for their "investment." Some can even buy a club for a quid, put sod all in, determine their own level of remuneration and walk away with half a hotel in their pocket.

Look at Rangers over the past three years. It's only now that their supporters are getting organised and they may yet find they have yet another false god running the club. But at least this time they have found their voice.

Look too at what fans have done elsewhere - AFC Wimbledon, FC United of Manchester, FC Halifax Town, Darlington 1883, 1874 Northwich FC. These are all clubs which wouldn't exist without the fans keeping them going. And in every case bar Manchester, they built on the ruins of clubs destroyed not by fans but by the suits. There's an excellent example of a community-run club near me - http://www.lewesfc.com

Fan ownership is the end product of fanzines and websites. It brings supporters together, gives them a voice and makes sure that the days when clubs could ignore the supporters or regard them as mere cash cows are gone - and a good thing too.

If the concept of community ownership had been around in the past then Third Lanark would still appear on the annual fixture list.

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Re: Fan Ownership

Post by bobby s » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:17 am

Fan Ownership. Funny old thing.

Hibs are going through a process just now and 50% - a controlling stake, no less when taken with the 1% already held by fans - has been made available to fans to buy. But, as far as I can see the fans might "own" Hibs at some point in the future, the won't "control" Hibs, that will remain with the 49% stake held by STF & RP. Hibs already have in the region of 1700 shareholders holding 1% of the club, so where we land with Hibernian Supporters Limited and more individuals buying shares no one can really tell. I don't feel there's been enough dialogue on the process, and many fans don't really understand what we are going to get at the end. So, it's not a straightforward process and that's with Hibs being perceived as having one of the best owners in Scotland.

Should the government legislate? I've not read through the plans, I think there's more important things to worry about [like standing at football or alcohol at grounds - NOT] so I'd be surprised if I read a compelling argument. What could be done is incentivise clubs who do offer fans "ownership", but that just makes me think of clubs spunking other peoples money on madcap schemes.
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lbb
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Re: Fan Ownership

Post by lbb » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:15 am

I don't know really know anything about the proposed legislation mentioned in the OP but not knowing anything has never previously stopped me commenting.

Something 'scottish' mentions - the fans are already the biggest investor. In my experience, this has been the most difficult part - getting fans to understand that they already put the most money in through tickets, merchandise, TV subs, hospitality, etc. and yet they have nothing to show for it. Some Walter Mitty character could walk in and wreak havoc and there's nothing they can do about it. There seems to be a mentality - and I don't know if it's a particularly Scottish one - of deferring to the 'man in the big hoose'. 'These guys know best', 'I'm just an ordinary guy, I don't know about anything about business'. The problem is a lot of people running the clubs don't know anything about business. If nothing else, the fans will have the club's interests at heart. For me, it always goes back to the 2003 Rangers AGM and John McClelland's dismissal of fan representation - 'if the fans were in charge, we would be in even more trouble' or something like that. This at a time when the Rangers oldco owed around £100m. It turns out the 'captains of industry' knew absolutely nothing either.

I see nothing wrong, in principle, with fans being given first refusal or option to purchase a (usually distressed) club. It has to be a better option than the club can getting passed around a group of sharks.

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Re: Fan Ownership

Post by Scottish » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:38 pm

The 'I'd be in over my head' mentality exists in England too with the over-reliance on billionaires, chancers, billionaire chancers and billionaires who are only billionaires because they are chancers. Until, as in my previous post, all seems lost. That's what sparks fans into action and they realise what they are capable of collectively.

Even in countries with a different ownership model, deference still exists though. Spain is a good example of this with multi-millionaires running supposedly democratic clubs. That's because the supporter/members tend to vote for who will promise signing the best players. Juan Laporta is one smart cookie and an exception to the rule. Wealthy by most people's standards but nowhere near enough to individually own and control a major football club, he was elected President at Barcelona by promising to sign David Beckham and we all know how that went.

But he delivered success and no matter the murky waters he has often waded in, many Barça fans would take him back, even though on a personal basis it would be unlikely if he could personally pay one player's salary for a season.

Italy, it appears, is more like the UK regarding ownership. Worse in fact. I doubt if the Berlusconi empire would be allowed to so blatantly intertwine their "brands" here.

I don't know enough about the German model but I am impressed by the number of former players who take up senior positions in an executive capacity, if less so than by how often they are requested to have a little chat with their tax authorities.

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