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The Football League responds to Labour proposals for increased fan ownership

17 October 2014

The Football League has responded cautiously to the latest contribution to the debate on ownership of football clubs in England and Wales by warning against exposing supporter groups to increased financial risk.

Labour has today announced a proposal to give accredited supporter trusts the right to appoint and remove up to a quarter of a football club’s board of directors and purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership.

The Football League’s Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, said: “As ever, we welcome dialogue with the political parties regarding football, as our clubs represent communities across England and Wales.

“Many of the individuals that choose to invest in football do so without expecting any financial return on their investment, as they too are supporters of their club.  Instead, they do so for a variety of different reasons and we have to be careful not to create barriers that act as a disincentive to the next generation of owners and directors, as the game will only suffer as a consequence.

“It is also important to understand any proposal for supporters to have a legal right to purchase a stake in a club within the context of the obligations that come with it.  For example, the average annual loss of a Championship club in 2012/13 was more than £13m with that shortfall having to be met by the club’s shareholders to enable it to continue playing football. 

“Improved communications with supporters shouldn’t come at the cost of exposing those same supporters to unacceptable levels of financial risk.  From personal experience and that of club directors that I speak with, there is no surer way of jeopardising a Saturday afternoon’s enjoyment than being responsible for it on a Monday morning.”

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