After our proposal last month in the Mutuals Manifesto for football fans to have a right to bid for ownership of their club, it is great to see the report in the Guardian that there is an open door to community ownership.
According to our own recent survey, conducted by YouGov after we launched the manifesto, 83 per cent of Manchester United fans and 72 per cent of Liverpool fans who expressed an opinion felt their club would be in better hands if it was owned co-operatively. Across the country 56% of fans, who gave an opinion, feel the same way.
According to the survey, Manchester United supporters would be willing to invest an average of just over £600 each, to buy their club. If all the club’s supporters in Great Britain did this they would be able to raise £2.34 billion – more than enough to buy the club.
Duncan Drasdo Chief Executive of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) told me that: “We know there’s a huge appetite out there to change the ownership at United – and this shows there’s the commitment and the will amongst supporters to play a significant role in any bid and new ownership structure. £600 as an average is a credible figure but obviously some will put in less and some will invest substantially more.”
And Dave Boyle, Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, the organisation that promotes the democratic ownership of football clubs and a federal member of Co-operatives UK, commented that: “fans are realising that the choice is a simple one – pay someone else’s debts off and at the end, those people own it, or buy it yourself. These clubs should never have been allowed to be bought on the back of leveraged debt, but if the game’s authorities won’t act in the defence of our clubs, fans will have to.”
For less than the price of a Premier League season ticket, fans could share in ownership of their clubs and ensure that they are run in the long-term interests of sport. They really could be their team’s twelfth man!