Man United Supporters Trust applaud Labour plans for fan ownership

Manchester United fans could soon return to the club’s board if Labour win next year’s general election after promising to revolutionise English football today.

Should Ed Miliband’s Labour win power in May, England will see the ‘biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the game began.’

The radical plans, backed by the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), would see supporters have seats on the board of every club.

“We hope today is the start of each political party laying out its clear vision for football beyond 2015 and how it will protect the rights of supporters,” said Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of MUST.

“Football supporters have been promised a lot by successive governments but, in reality, have seen nothing of significance change.”

In addition the proposal would give fans the right to buy up to 10% of a club’s shares whenever its ownership changes.

MUST previously held a shareholding in United until the club was purchased by the recently deceased Malcolm Glazer in 2005.

Following the owner’s decision to take the club off the open market, MUST were essentially forced to give up the fan’s share in the club.

Now, MUST see Labour’s proposal as the starting point from which to re-establish its shareholding and build up equity in United over the coming years.

“These proposals seek to assist supporters to obtain equity in their clubs – something fundamentally important to MUST – without interfering in the current ownership,” added Mr Drasdo.

“Today’s proposals are specific, workable plans rather than vague principles, which could be clearly measured in the future by supporters up and down the country.”

Under Labour’s outlines supporters trusts would have to become ‘Industrial and Provident Societies’ and would be required to meet certain governance standards.

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

Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford MP said Labour’s plans are the only way to ensure supporters have a say in how their club is run.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

At present four football league teams, Portsmouth, Exeter, Wycombe Wanderers and Wimbledon, are entirely owned by fans.

However Manchester boasts two well-established fan run clubs.

Well-known FC United of Manchester were set up by fans angered by the Glazers’ controversial takeover of Manchester United in 2005.

The club, in their ninth year, are now semi-professional and yesterday were announced as the first ever football club to be recognised as a living wage employer. 

The team is managed by former Droylsden, Hyde United and Salford City player Karl Marginson, and play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, two leagues below the conference.

Meanwhile Maine Road Football Club was formed by Manchester City fans in 1955 and currently plies its trade in the North West Counties Football League Premier Division.

Main image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.

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