Thursday, March 01, 2007

Supporters Trusts In The Premiership And Beyond

What have Premiership clubs Arsenal, Aston Villa, Fulham, Manchester United, Reading, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford & West Ham all got in common? Answer: All of them currently have a Supporters Trust.

Supporters Trusts in the higher echelons of English football are on the increase. Eight already exist in the Premiership and more are in the pipeline. Seventeen Championship clubs currently have one and all twelve Scottish Premier League Clubs have one.

The Supporters Trust movement is also set to move into Europe. As you may know, Supporters Direct in partnership with UEFA are launching a one year feasibility study across a select number of countries in Europe. The aim of the study is to examine the potential expansion of the Trust movement across Europe.

Whilst Supporters Trusts do not exist in Europe as we know them, there are many European Football Clubs wholly or majority owned by their members via democratic/ mutual organisations.

Most German clubs, where football is currently thriving, are structured as members' clubs with a supervisory board elected by members, who are match-going fans. That board generally selects the make-up of the management board that runs the club on a day-to-day basis and is responsible for the football and non-football sides of club activities.

German clubs that are not wholly owned by their members generally have two entities, a company and an association, and even the private limited companies are minimum 51% owned by the members' association. The German FA requires that a minimum 51% of a football club be held by the members' club thereby keeping the control with fans.

Deloitte's recently published Football Money League 2007 list details the top twenty clubs in the world (ranked by revenue). You might be surprised to know that half of those clubs either have an active Supporters Trust or are owned by their supporters (thereby giving the fans a large degree of influence). All ten are listed here with their Deloitte ranking in brackets:-

Real Madrid (1) - supporter owned
Barcelona (2) - supporter owned
Manchester United (4) - supporters trust
Bayern Munich (8) - 90% supporter owned
Arsenal (9) - supporters trust
Schalke (14) - supporter owned
Tottenham (15) - supporters trust
Hamburg (16) - supporter owned
Rangers (18) - supporters trust
West Ham (19) - supporters trust

Next time someone tells you that Supporters Trusts or clubs owned by their supporters is for the lower leagues, ask them where they get their information from. Ten of the biggest clubs in the world have proven that their models for success fully involves their supporters.

We are fully committed to forming the MCFC Supporters Trust to play a positive part in the future of our Club and in so doing give supporters a voice at the highest level. We are just the catalysts in its formation however, it will be up to the supporters/ members to decide the trust's aims and vote in who they want to represent them on the trust board.


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