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British government plan greater fan power

Manchester United fans have protested against the club's American owners at recent games.
Manchester United fans have protested against the club's American owners at recent games.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The UK government confirm they are looking at plans to overhaul ownership of football clubs
  • Supporters' groups could be handed over 25 per cent of their club under new plans
  • Fans would have a window to purchase their club if it goes into administration
  • UEFA president Michel Platini welcomes the proposals

(CNN) -- British football fans could have a greater say in the way their club is run after the national government confirmed they are investigating a raft of radical measures to reform the game.

The proposals are said to include a stipulation that supporters' groups must own over 25 per cent of their club and have the option to buy it should they encounter financial difficulties.

The new measures could be included in Labour's upcoming election manifesto, with a vow to become law within a year, if the ruling party are returned by the public at the general election, which must be held before June 3.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told CNN: "Football clubs were built on the life-time loyalty of fans and every care should be taken to protect clubs' long-term financial futures.

"That is why we have consistently said that we want to see a greater degree of supporter representation at football clubs. We believe this could give fans a greater say in how their club is run and financed.

"There are many good examples of the beneficial effects of supporter democracy across Europe. There is widespread recognition that more needs to be done to improve transparency and the financial regulation of the game."

We believe this could give fans a greater say in how their club is run and financed.
--UK government
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UEFA president Michel Platini welcomed the plans at a news conference in Brussels. 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. There are clubs now where the president is not a national of the country, the coach is not of a national of the country and the players are not nationals of the country. The only ones to have any kind of identity are the supporters."

English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Liverpool have a combined debt of over $1.4 billion and supporters of both have protested against their owners, both of whom are American.

A group of wealthy businessmen calling themselves the "Red Knights" have signaled their intention to launch a takeover bid for Manchester United, and the government's plans have similarities with their campaign.

The battle for Manchester United explained

Last month, Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to go into administration with debts of around $90 million, according to their administrator Andrew Andronikou.

The UK's main opposition party, the Conservatives, called for more clarity in a statement given to CNN: "Given that Labour have overseen an unprecedented period of instability in football club ownership, fans will be looking for reassurance that Labour are serious about this move."