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Fan ownership a step closer

This news post is over 7 years old

​Community ownership of football clubs a step closer

Increasing community ownership of football clubs has been backed by MSPs.

They supported amendments to the Community Empowerment Bill extending the right-to-buy to football fans.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone brought forward the changes and if passed by the Scottish Parliament would mean supporters' trusts would get first refusal when a club comes up for sale.

Initially the bill was designed to allow community groups the right to purchase land but the hope is that it will now be extended to football clubs.

Johnstone said: “This is an extraordinary day for the future of Scottish football.

"We know how badly the game has been struggling, from Gretna to Hearts and Rangers, and we know fan ownership works.

"It's great that parliament has today united around the principle of a responsible fans' right to buy their clubs."

The principles are the same for communities when trying to buy areas of rural land as contained in land reform legislation.

Local government minister Marco Biagi said: "Affirmative procedure for the development of the details, with the aim put in the bill, would allow consultation with the wider football community; it would allow consultation, as appropriate, with the parliament; and it would ensure that we don't just endorse the principle but we ensure that any legislation we introduce we get right," he said.



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Douglas J A Roxburgh MBE
over 7 years ago
As a lifelong Club and National Supporter, this is not only welcome but long overdue. Now, there are opportunities for a platform and pathway to further Fan ownership agreed by the Committee, but to be ratified by Parliament, this should galvanise our Club Supporters to call for a similarly representative body for all stakeholders in the governance of our game.Trusts and Supporters Groups from Football Clubs have demonstrated the strong sense of feeling and ownership of their Football Team, recognising that those who own or currently run them, are merely the custodians of history, tradition and Club.We have an excellent and well run Scotland Supporters Club that is the envy of many of our counterparts worldwide, whilst this is an unrivalled example - should we not have representation at Club Supporter level too. Ideally, Scottish Club Supporters need an organisation that is based, run and managed in Scotland as an independent body, but underpinning the need for collaborative working throughout all aspects of Football. Unfortunately, the present incumbents in that position - Supporters Direct Scotland are not fully independent and representative of Fans. They are an offshoot of their larger parent in England and so dominated by issues that are not wholly Scottish based. Further to this they have lost their way in terms of leadership and direction following personnel change at CEO level.There have been excellent examples of where models of fan ownership and representation on Football Clubs has recognised the primary stakeholders, the fans, but with the right model there needs to be the right people appointed to see that model can achieve and deliver. Whilst some Clubs have required the input of crisis management to maintain their survival recently, this should not be the only time and opportunity where Fan ownership is discussed, considered and then seen as a part or total solution to the problem.Finally, it is no surprise that the governing bodies of Football in Scotland have chosen not to agree or support this. If we are constantly told 'Football is for the Fans and their Communities' then this needs to be practised and demonstrated by our lead organisations, if not we will fall behind our current European and UEFA partners, rather than being at the forefront of innovative change. If other member Associations can and have embraced this then why can't ours.