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  • 17 October 2014 00:00
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Labour propose greater ownership powers for football fans

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The Labour Party have proposed radical plans that would allow football fans could have a greater say in the running of their clubs. 

The proposals come after BBC’s Price of Football study showed that the average price of the cheapest tickets across English football has risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011.

The proposals would see supporters have seats on every board and the right to buy a significant slice of a club's shares when its ownership changes in what Labour say would be "the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game".

Only 14 league clubs currently have fan representatives on their board with Swansea City being the only Premier League outfit among the 14, with the Swansea City Supporters Trust owning 20% of the club.

But if Labour wins next year's General Election, fans' trusts could be able to appoint and remove up to a quarter of a club's directors.

Supporters would not be able to block takeovers or change corporate strategy, but could obtain financial and commercial information about the club.

Fans could also purchase up to 10% of the shares when a club changes ownership. 

The Government this week revealed plans for the establishment of an 'Expert Group' of football administrators, providing a platform for issues that affect fans.

Sports Minister Helen Grant said she was "concerned and cross" about the rising cost of ticket prices but Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford claims Labour's plans are the only way to ensure supporters have a say in how their club is run.

"Only this week, the BBC's Price of Football survey showed how average prices have risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011," he said.

"Too often fans are treated like an after-thought as ticket prices are hiked-up, grounds relocated and clubs burdened with debt or the threat of bankruptcy. We have reached a tipping point."

Labour says it has received expert legal advice confirming that the reforms are compatible with EU law.
Trusts would need to become 'Industrial and Provident Societies' and would be required to meet certain governance standards.

Grant responded to Labour's proposals by repeating the Government's commitment to helping supporters have "better engagement" with their clubs.

She said the expert working group would start work "imminently" and include representatives from across football.

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