‘Take action now’: FC United say government report into fan ownership ‘can’t be left to gather dust on a shelf’

FC United of Manchester say the time for talking is over on the issue of supporter-owned football clubs in the wake of a government report on supporter ownership and engagement in football.

The club welcomes the publication of the Government’s Expert Working Group report but say they need to implement its recommendations without delay.

The club’s Press Officer Andy Walker hopes the recommendations are acted upon now in order to increase the number of supporter-owned clubs and fan involvement in the game.

“Why should there be any significant delay if everyone agrees with them?” Walker questioned.

“Steps should be taken for implementing the main conclusions as soon as possible and if the proposals are implemented quickly it will be a big step forwards.

“There have been many reports in the past into the future of football and the running of football that have gathered dust on a shelf so this can’t be like those.

“There needs to be some action taken now.”

The report’s main conclusions seek to level the playing field by removing a series of barriers to supporter ownership which it says are currently too high and prevent fans from taking ownership of their club.

It recommends that in cases of insolvency, administrators should meet with a club’s supporters’ trust to invite it to bid for the club.

Recognising the significant costs involved in bidding for clubs, the report also recommends that funding be made available to supporters’ trusts to help them develop bids for clubs and engage professional advisors.

Walker particularly welcomed the report’s endorsement of Supporters Direct’s proposals for Community Owned Sports Clubs (COSCs) which would reward supporter-owned clubs with tax breaks.

“The recommendation to allow supporter-owned clubs to enjoy tax relief will enable them to attract finance in a better way than they currently can,” he said.

“The fact that football clubs are going to have to speak to supporters trusts in a more structured way than they have done in the past is a positive thing.

“It’s unfortunate that it needs a report because football supporters have got a lot to offer and are running clubs up and down the country to good effect.

“The football authorities should be engaging with their supporters in a better way than they currently are.”

Walker also reiterated the club’s view that supporter-ownership is ‘the way forward’ for many football clubs, particularly those who are currently in financial turmoil.

“It’s the way to engage supporters in how clubs are run and supporters are best placed to take decisions on the running of their club,” he said.

“As we’ve seen in the past wealthy individuals don’t necessarily have the interests of the club at heart and in many cases that has ended up in tears and the bankruptcy of the club.

“Over time we will see more supporter-owned clubs being developed and if these measures are implemented then it will be more attractive to have a supporter-owned club.”

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