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Fans club together to claim fair share

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Matt Slater | 12:57 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

When people knock at my door, it is usually because they want me to give them money. Nothing wrong with that - they are nearly always polite - but it would be nice if it was the other way around for once.

Sadly, that is unlikely as I don't think any of my ancestors lived in south-east London a century ago. If they had, there is a chance they might have taken a £1 gamble on a new company called Arsenal Football Club Limited.

Pressing debts had seen its predecessor go bust in 1910 but this firm, whose only product was Woolwich Arsenal, seemed to have more get-up-and-go about it. So much get-up-and-go, in fact, that three years later it moved to north London, dropped the "Woolwich" and became a football giant.

A century later, many of those shares, of which 1,280 were issued, have been forgotten about or lost. But they have not stopped growing in value. That £1 punt is now worth almost £90,000, which is why some fortunate people have been getting knocks on the door from private investigators with good news.

They will expect a commission for their efforts but the most likely purchaser of your newly reissued shares will be somebody a bit like your Woolwich Arsenal-supporting forebear: a regular fan who wants a stake in their club.

Except it will not just be one fan. It will be hundreds of them.

The Arsenal Fanshare scheme is one of those ideas that seems so simple you wonder why it has taken so long to come up with it. And while there are elements of it unique to Arsenal, the general idea could become a template for all future relations between clubs and their supporters.

Woolwich Arsenal in action

Woolwich Arsenal play Middlesbrough at their pre-Highbury home in Plumstead in 1906. Photo: Getty

Launched last August by the Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST), Fanshare has more than 1,600 members who have invested over £350,000 in Arsenal shares.

The genius of Fanshare is that it made a virtue out of the biggest obstacle AST faced to achieving its goal of being a critical friend to the club. That obstacle was the runaway price of the shares.

Currently trading at £11,200, Arsenal's stock has been rising ever since English football's earning power changed forever with the advent of the Premier League in 1992. That was one year after Arsenal performed a 1-for-8 share split, making a few lucky people with south London links a nice profit.

But that profit started to become potentially life-changing a few years ago when Arsenal became the focus of a bidding war between an American sports magnate called Stan Kroenke and an Uzbek oligarch named Alisher Usmanov.

With those two snapping up shares - and only 62,219 of them in circulation anyway - AST had a tough time converting good intentions into actual power. Prior to Fanshare, AST had gained three Arsenal shares in eight years.

And then came the light-bulb moment: let's really club together, like a racing syndicate, and buy shares of shares.

A "Fanshare" is a 100th of an actual share, so approximately £110. Members of the scheme, having paid a £20 membership fee, can invest between £10 and £1,000 a month.

Once they have enough in their account, they can buy a Fanshare, bringing them direct ownership of a stake in Arsenal, the chance to attend the Arsenal AGM (100 Fanshare members went to October's), quarterly financial information from the club and a vote on key resolutions. Buy 100 Fanshares, equivalent to a full share, and you are given full voting rights and a guaranteed AGM place.

I should probably make it clear at this stage that Arsenal's fans are not the first to come up with a share-save plan. Rangers supporters, to give just one example, definitely got there before them. But unlike Arsenal's Fanshare, the GerSave scheme has not really delivered yet. There is one crucial reason for that: there is no relationship between the fans at Ibrox and the club's ownership.

Run by the Rangers Supporters Trust, there are 500 GerSave members with almost £70,000 in the bank. But until club owner David Murray relinquishes control of the Glasgow side, the fans do not want to prop up his regime.

This brings me back to what is so special about Arsenal's Fanshare. It has been done with the full support of the club's board - and even the major shareholders not on the board. AST has been able to convince everybody that a bigger say for "real fans" does not mean a storming of the barricades.

It is this attitude that has attracted praise for Arsenal and its Fanshare from interested onlookers, such as the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and Uefa chief Michel Platini.

It is also why MPs sitting on the parliamentary select committee hearings into football governance went to the Emirates last week for their first fact-finding mission.

They met AST representatives, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, wanting to know how other teams could replicate this consensual approach - no easy task when so many club boards seem to be at war with their fans.

As for the parliamentary select committee hearings, they start with a bang on Tuesday, when former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman give his opinions.

But Triesman - and Arsenal - are not the only ones with good stories to tell.

FC United fans

FC United have risen from English football's 10th tier to the 7th since their birth in 2005. Photo: Getty

Perhaps the most interesting example of a new way of doing things for football can be found a long way from Arsenal at FC United of Manchester, the club started by disaffected fans of Manchester United.

FC United have shared Bury's Gigg Lane ground since their formation in the wake of the controversial arrival of the Glazers at Old Trafford in 2005. And the last six years have seen steady growth for a club many thought was a protest movement that would fizzle out.

With average gates of 2,000, the semi-professional team want to move to a home of their own in Newton Heath, the birthplace of Manchester United.

The plan is to build a £3.5m community sports venue, part-funded by grants from the local authorities, Football Foundation and Sport England, with £2m coming from the club's own coffers and a Community Share Scheme. The target is to raise £1.5m by 28 February. They are nearly there.

Members of the club, which is run as a co-operative, have invested sums between £200 and £20,000 in the new ground. The money is ring-fenced for three years but, after that, 10% of the pot can be repaid a year, enabling fans to get their money back should they need it. They could also earn small dividend payments.

FC United's general manager Andy Walsh told me the Community Share Scheme was the most exciting project they had attempted so far and thinks it could be spun out across the leagues.

As he pointed out, if FC United can raise £1.5m from a committed fan-base of 2,000, what could a team with gates of 10,000 or more achieve? More wholly supporter-owned clubs should be possible.

So there are positive signs of football fans organising themselves to be heard and respected at both ends of the spectrum. This is heartening news if lessons from recent high-profile financial failures are to be learned.

Football clubs are far more than just the current squad plus fixtures and fittings. They are assets to nurture and treasure, because one day, a 100 years down the line, they could be something really special to an entirely new generation of custodians.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Very interesting piece, have always loved reading about FC United and wish them nothing but the best, they seem very well intentioned and are going about things the right way!

    I can't say I knew much about the fanshare scheme at Arsenal prior to this but my question is how will any future battle for control of the board (Kronke/Usamov) affect the scheme ? If somebody manages to get their hands on enough shares from elsewhere (perhaps Bracewell's shares) then could they not simply force them out or, perhaps with less reputation damage, simply push them aside ?

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog. Arsenal should be praised for the fanshare scheme. The board room operations of so many big clubs are so far removed from the ordinary fan, that it's no wonder so many of them feel so disillusioned with their clubs. Man Utd being a case in mind and hence the birth of FC united.

    As a lifelong Arsenal fan, I've always felt that our club has been run like one big family, many players would say the same thing. From the Chief exec right down to the tea lady, everyone is Arsenal through and through. The fanshare scheme is a natural extension of this ethos - bringing the fans views to the boardroom in a real and effective way

    Well done Arsenal football club - an example to others

  • Comment number 3.

    Very interesting blog :)

    Good to see that its one of the country's top teams who are getting their fans more involved, and they are setting a good example. Well done Arsenal :)

    My point is how will a club like Manchester United implement this, given that so many of their fans share a huge dislike for the current owners?

    Also, all the best to FC United, would like to see them progress and challenge for league football in a few years time :)

  • Comment number 4.

    Matt your blog needs a little clarification re the lack of investment in Gersave and I think its fair to say that Rangers are:

    At least £27m in debt and possibly liable for a further £25m to HMRC because of possible tax avoidance;

    In the midst of a possible takeover delayed due to the lack of resolution about the tax issue;

    And any other debts that are owing but not publicised in the spiders web of accounting of Murray International Metals (the owners of the club) reputed to be laden with debt to over £700m.

    David Murray is desperate to sell but against this backdrop who would invest heavily to buy this club at this point? Supporters may be picking the club up for a song come this May. But not for the 'songs' usually associated with this club!

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog. Any initiative that allows fans to have more say in the running of their club can only be a good thing. Any well run club should have a combination of business expertise and people who genuinely care for the team concerned.

    Too many times in the past, fans have been taken in by 'businessmen' who have promised the world but delivered nothing.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 6.

    Excellent blog post that. It is refreshing to see one of the country's leading clubs trying to make their club more accessible to their fan base when so many others are heading in the opposite direction.

    It is a shame what happened at Man Utd as they had a similar scheme (Shareholders United [now MUST]) until the Glazers ripped the club away from those fans.

    All the best to FC United also, they are doing things the right way and Andy Walsh is right in what he says. If a club with a core fan base of 2000 can raise £1.5 million then just think what kind of sums a club who regularly get attendances of 50,000 could achieve!

    http://www.myfootballwiki.com

  • Comment number 7.

    Exactly how much influence will fans have at Arsenal? An 100th percent share of 1 (single) Arsenal Share does not seem very influential to me? Or is this just a 'feel good about owning your club ' gimmick, to impress the gullible? I suppose it might get them a better seat in the Clubs Restaurant.
    In todays multi-million pound business world of Premier League Clubs I cannot see it having much success, however with such as FC United of Manchester thats another thing again, they can help paint the stadium as well!

  • Comment number 8.

    Really nice blog here, very insightful.

    Taking inspiration from writers like this, There is a new blog on the Internet called thefullcircleblog.wordpress.com. It has a section about Manchester united and there is a tribute to Gary Neville. Coming on tomorrow will be a tactical analysis on Manchester uniteds defeat to wolves. There will be many more blog posts coming this week and in the future. Please could you have a look and if you like it, comment, follow @fullcircleblog and subscribe! Thank you for your time!

  • Comment number 9.

    That sort of scheme is an excellent idea for a successful club. At AFC Bournemouth following our financial difficulties in the 90's fans subscribed for shares in the new company through a supporters trust mutual and had approx £500,000 investment in the club. Sadly the club went into administration and the shares became worthless.

    I think the best scheme that has been developed in the last 25 years is the Chelsea Pitchowners Scheme. When Chelsea were going through hard times back in the 80's someone had the novel idea of forming a company that just owned the pitch area at Stamford Bridge to stop the march of property developers asset stripping their football club. Chelsea fans own shares in the company that own the pitch and shares continue to be issued.

    At AFCB we entered into a sale and lease back arrangement for our ground a few years ago and we would dearly love to buy it back because paying out approx £360k a year in rent is dead money. Now our finances appear to have improved through recent player sales the next logical step would be how to achieve this. Perhaps a pitchowners scheme could work for us.

  • Comment number 10.

    No mention of Ebbsfleet Utd and/or myfootballclub.com? A very real case of fans owning the club. A free trial membership too. Look it up!

  • Comment number 11.

    dominic wrote:

    .....I can't say I knew much about the fanshare scheme at Arsenal prior to this but my question is how will any future battle for control of the board (Kronke/Usamov) affect the scheme ? If somebody manages to get their hands on enough shares from elsewhere (perhaps Bracewell's shares) then could they not simply force them out or, perhaps with less reputation damage, simply push them aside ?
    -----------
    Undoubtably, this is exactly what happened to Manchester United, I had a few shares which the Glazers compulsory took from me, there was no choice. Once they reached a certain percentage of shares themselves they are allowed to buy everyone else's shares whether you like it or not.

  • Comment number 12.

    Agree with you totally, Tony #11. I was also a MUFC shareholder although I sold my shares before Glazer time. Schemes such as that run by Arsenal are very nice, but in the cold hard world of business they are little more than a novelty. As former MUFC shareholders (including those members of United's scheme "Shareholders United") found out, once a major shareholder passes certain thresholds, they can simply buy out the rest....and there's nothing you can do about it.

  • Comment number 13.

    Arsenal fans will be wasting their money. They will get no real say in anything. It may give them a warm feeling inside that they own part of the club, but I see these things as yet again exploiting the most loyal supporters.

    Why couldn't Arsenal (or other clubs) just GIVE AWAY shares to those fans who have held season tickets for more than 20+ years or have not missed a home and away game in a certain number of years?

    That's rewarding loyalty, not exploiting it.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't say I knew much about the fanshare scheme at Arsenal prior to this but my question is how will any future battle for control of the board (Kronke/Usamov) affect the scheme ? If somebody manages to get their hands on enough shares from elsewhere (perhaps Bracewell's shares) then could they not simply force them out or, perhaps with less reputation damage, simply push them aside ?


    That is what happened at United when the Glazers took over.

    I got £10 for my 'share' because the Glazers could buy it whether I liked it or not. Once someone buys over a certain amount of shares they can buy all the rest.

    As far as I can remember I put it into FCUM

  • Comment number 15.

    Soz just seen #11 & #12

    Whoops

  • Comment number 16.

    Ironic that Arsenal moved from South London to North London and now Spurs want to do the same in the opposite direction.

  • Comment number 17.

    Arsenal fans will be wasting their money. They will get no real say in anything. It may give them a warm feeling inside that they own part of the club, but I see these things as yet again exploiting the most loyal supporters.

    Why couldn't Arsenal (or other clubs) just GIVE AWAY shares to those fans who have held season tickets for more than 20+ years or have not missed a home and away game in a certain number of years?

    That's rewarding loyalty, not exploiting it.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't see how the fanshare scheme exploits the fans. Arsenal get nothing from supporting the scheme.

  • Comment number 18.

    Not sure if you watched the Super Bowl the other night Matt, but the best example of a fan owned business doing well were Sunday night's winners, the Green Bay Packers. Despite having a population of roughly 100000 they sell out their 70000+ seat stadium every game, with another 70000 on a waiting list for a season ticket. The team can never be moved from Green Bay and competes amongst even the most financially powerful sports franchises. It is a fascinating situation, probably unique.

  • Comment number 19.

    #18 - don't forget FC Barcelona

  • Comment number 20.

    3. No need to worry, the owners would never countenance the idea of fan ownership. Until they are gone, this model of Arsenal's would never get off the ground at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 21.

    The blog is interesting in itself, but its on the back of a fending political inquiry. Government intervention is dangerous, and yet again the powers that be are partly pandering to what they feel is public opinion in a way to win votes.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    the shares thing is sweet, but such a small idea. clubs' only value is in the support. fans merely need to threaten to stop buying tickets, merchandise and sky subscriptions and politely ask for the current owners to hand over the club. no customers, no profits. the glazers' bankers would not have supported a takeover if there had been a credible threat of a mass boycott. they could be forced to sell at a reasonable price by the same. ultimately, they could be broken and fans could take over the club for a pittance. it's the same for every club. forget a slow, meaningless build-up of shareholdings. collectively, you have more power as consumers than as voters.

    this is also true regarding all the big corporates ruling your lives. you have all the power. is it too much to expect a jasmine revolution in football? it's just a question of desire. then we could reform the f.a., uefa and fifa and we woudl have our game back.

  • Comment number 24.

    It cost 800m to buy United. Who would listen to someone paying £10 for "their say"?

  • Comment number 25.

    "Ironic that Arsenal moved from South London to North London and now Spurs want to do the same in the opposite direction."

    Buy a London atlas Tony :)

  • Comment number 26.

    Good luck to all those involved. I think for many clubs community ownership is the way forward as the 'owner' model is failing. A similar model has been adopted by a lower league team in Scotland:

    http://www.stenhousemuirfc.com/cic/

  • Comment number 27.

    Exactly how much influence will fans have at Arsenal? An 100th percent share of 1 (single) Arsenal Share does not seem very influential to me? Or is this just a 'feel good about owning your club ' gimmick, to impress the gullible? I suppose it might get them a better seat in the Clubs Restaurant.
    -----

    A fan with a full Arsenal share has a vote in club decisions. Any fan with an Arsenal Fanshare has a vote that determines the voting decision made by the full Arsenal share e.g. 100 fans with 100 fanshares that make up 1 full share decide by 90% to go with decision A and so at the AGM decision A is voted on for that 1 full share.

    The point with the scheme is that over time it builds up members and acquires more full shares and so has more influence over club decisions.

    At no point does the club gain anything from the Fanshare members. The club doesn't own the shares, the shareholders own the shares and they are the ones who sell shares to the scheme and the ones that "profit".

  • Comment number 28.

    #19. I don't think FC Barcelona is a good example as they are hugely in debt and couldn't pay their players salary over the summer until they got a bridging loan.

  • Comment number 29.

    Great blog and great to hear about FC United. I think there are a few other cases that would be nice to hear about such as AFC Wimbledon. It is also interesting with the recent financial difficulties that some clubs have had such as Crystal Palace and Portsmouth that it has been fans/groups of supporters that have purchased the clubs. Do you know if there is any plans to extend the fan ownership at such clubs?

    I am a member of the Arsenal Share scheme and think it is a great scheme. It is regulated by the FSA and you subscribe to a standing order each month (minimum £10) or you can make one off payments. The way it works is once there is enough money to purchase a share and you have "saved" enough to purchase 1/100th the scheme arranges purchase of 1 share. Judging by the figures above the share scheme would have about 35 shares. I agree with the article it is also about the culture of the club and the way that it is run with the fans. We know we will not have the deciding say but we are also listened to and have a right to be at the AGM. (Where you own a percentage of a share there is a "draw" for who can attend the AGM) Over time the number of people in the sharescheme will only grow and the number of shares we own will only increase and I think that can only be a good thing. The club itself wanted "Plurality of ownership".

    In case of a takeover you are correct the shares would be purchased at the agreed takeover price the same as any company takeover.

  • Comment number 30.

    The differing interests of shareholders illustrates a critical point.

    The fans of a club want to buy shares because they believe in the club, because they want to be part of the club, because they support its aims.

    Most owners, certainly those such as the Glazers, are clearly in it for the financial returns. I can imagine they have some interest in sport, and may even get a kick out of Man U winning a big game, but there is no doubt that their principle interest is making money.

    This epitomises all that is wrong with capitalism.

    The vast majority of those investing in companies on the stock exchanges across the world have no interest whatsoever in the activities of the companies they are invested in. They are simply interested in the financial returns. They may want the company to observe laws, or to avoid morally difficult areas such as child labour, or poisoning local waterways, but the reality is that the only reason they care about such matters is that they might put off future investors from buying the shares, resulting in a lower share price.

    The world needs a new class of shareholders to emerge - shareholders who truly care about what the company they are investing in is trying to achieve.

    Football is in many ways a parody of life as a whole. Let's hope that Arsenal and other clubs can create a path to supporters owning clubs, and that this serves as an inspiration for the wider community's attitude to share ownership of companies.

  • Comment number 31.

    unfortunately, upside down, that new class of shareholders cannot emerge under the current system (and the concept mooted above is little more than a sop). therefore, it is up to consumers to drive the corporate ethos. the reason companies shy away from sweatshop labour is because people refuse to buy the product. consumer action works. shareholders are, indeed, motivated by profit. which makes them an easy target.

    all that is needed is for consumers to have a conscience.

    so... when you knock capitalism, remember you have three long fingers pointing back at you. it's not a criticism; I'm just offering some hope. :0)

    if fans unite, knowing that they represent the only value in the club, suddenly they are the only ones to whom it has any value.

    no need for a mass boycott, incidentally. all that is required is an agreement (say, via an online petition), that if enough fans sign up, all who have signed will boycott. once the threshold is met, wander along to the owners and provide an ultimatum. you don't need to miss a single game.

  • Comment number 32.

    Matt, not sure why you did not mention the attempt by Liverpool fans to raise enough money to buy the club? Clearly this was an ambitious goal, perhaps overly, and perhaps the best first step is to do as Arsenal have done.
    Once a board agree to this then it would be very difficult to ever get rid of without risk of a huge backlash from the fans, even if one shareholder were to acquire enough shares to have the right to buy them out.
    Fingers crossed this is the first of many and we see far more fan representation on the boards of many football clubs up and down the country. It can only be a good thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    probably the most boring blog i've ever read, struggled to stay awake towards the middle and the majority of the facts are inaccurate.

  • Comment number 34.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 35.

    Fans acquiring shares in clubs only has value if they obtain sufficient shares to carry any voting weight and the major shareholders in Arsenal will not lose any sleep over minority shareholdings whilst their motive remains to squeeze every last penny they can out of fans - the ticket prices at the Emirates illustrating the point

  • Comment number 36.

    You fail to mention AFC Wimbledon. After our club was disolved into MK Dons, the fans started the club again and have moved up the ladder from the Combined Counties League to the top of the Conference, on step away from the league again. They are the model for a fans club. They carry a regular crowd of 3,000 + and have a strong away support. Their support carries around the globe, in particular with strong supporter groups in both Australia and the USA. AFCW actually helped and supported FCUM in their set-up and we regularly hold pre-season games with them. Certainly we deserve a mention?

  • Comment number 37.

    Many people focus of FC Utd and AFC Wimbledon during this debate but there is a Supporters Trust owner club in the football league, Exeter City. From the depths of relegation to the conference and the arrest and conviction of the key people running our club the supporters club trust have owned the club since then. Some success with 2 promotions has followed. I think however that many fans need to get real and realise that a business model based upon running up huge debts and hoping a rich benefactor will rescue them isn't sustainable. Realistic budgets and expectations of success are required. I note the current plight of our rivals and the lack of coverage the premiership obsessed media have given them.

  • Comment number 38.

    Aassttoonnvviillaa

    "the majority of the facts are inaccurate" is a contradiction in terms.
    Aside from that, would you care to enlighten us as to which ones, being as you are so knowledgeable?

  • Comment number 39.

    Bayern Munich are incredibly rich and pay sky high wages, have a new magnificent stadium and are more than 50% fan owned. They have little debt, can afford the world's top players and can compete with Chelsea,Madrid etc on a financial and footballing level.

    German clubs have strict rules where a club must be owned by I think 50% fanshare and other bundelsiga clubs have managed to build huge stadiums, have record attendances and be in far better financial health then prem league clubs although they dont get anywhere near the huge sky tv windfall of their english counterparts.

    The UK gov could implement similar rules perhaps???Fanshare is the way forward

  • Comment number 40.

    Here's a link to explain the bundesliga system in a bit of detail

    //www.guardian.co.uk/sport/david-conn-inside-sport-blog/2009/nov/13/bundesligafootball-bayernmunich

  • Comment number 41.

    Evening all, apologies for delay in joining the debate, here are some replies:

    dominic (1) - The short answer to that question is nobody really knows. Many observers have been expecting either Kroenke or Usmanov to make a move for some time but we're still waiting. There are pretty good arguments for why one or both of those would launch full-blown takeover attempts but there are also good arguments for why they won't. But whatever they - or any other potential owner - decides to do, the Arsenal Fanshare concept can only bolster those who support Arsenal's traditional 'plurality of ownership' model. Members of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust say they now account for 2-3% of the total ownership, making them the fifth largest shareholding group (behind the four main shareholders). OK, in overall scheme of things, that doesn't give them a huge voice or a blocking vote, but it does give them some influence and a platform to keep making their case for 'custodianship', sustainable investment and transparency.

    Jamos1992 (3) - I'm sorry to say that as things stand Man Utd fans can't really replicate the Arsenal initiative. The Glazers are the sole owners of the club (although there are rumours about how they repaid their hedge-fund debt recently) and there is no talk of any imminent return to public ownership. I suppose you could argue that Man Utd's legions of fans could organise themselves to buy the corporate bonds the Glazers issued last year but that would be very complicated and expensive, and would not bring the same benefits as actually owning shares. I think the only thing they can do is watch, wait and get ready for whatever happens next.

    Rob04 (4) - You're right, and thanks for providing it. I had a few more pars on it but chopped them out as the piece was getting very long. I wanted to mention the Rangers scheme simply to give it its due, as it does pre-date the Arsenal Fanshare and they share a lot of similarities. Hopefully, once the Murray situation is resolved, the fans can really mobilise themselves to push for a bigger say in what happens at Ibrox.

    GavW (6) - You're right to highlight Andy Walsh's comments about what a bigger fanbase could achieve with this...I couldn't help thinking about Blackburn Rovers or Portsmouth.

    Paul49 (9) - Good shout re: Bournemouth and I've been heartened to hear more positive news from your club in recent seasons as you've all been through the mill a few times. The Chelsea Pitch Owners organisation is an excellent idea although it is slightly different to the two share schemes above. As I understand it (and this completely off top of my head), CPO came into being to provide the club with the "deed of covenant" protection most other clubs have at their grounds ie that property developers can't simply bulldoze the stands as the land is reserved for "athletic use" or some other similar wording. This means most redevelopments are only granted by the authorities if the club is rehoused. Chelsea fans may be able to correct me on this but I think CPO also owns the club's naming rights and badge.

    HarryBag (10) - No mention of Ebbsfleet, no. But no need to look them up. We've done reams of stuff on them in past and I don't think the business/ownership model is that great, to be honest. As the club's dwindling membership would suggest.

    Tony (11) & pdlepage (12) - Yes, that is certainly a possibility. But it's been a possibility at Arsenal for 3 or 4 years now - if not a lot longer. There are big differences between the situations at Man U pre-Glazers and Arsenal, though. One is that Man U shares were much more liquid (ie cheaper and more available) than Arsenal's, so the club was a lot more 'in play' or buyable, if that make's sense. There is also the fact that the status quo position at Arsenal is backed by the board, the biggest single shareholder, the third biggest shareholder and vast majority of the minor shareholders. And even the two important shareholders excluded from the board, Usmanov and Bracewell-Smith, have given this scheme, with all that it implies about 'plurality of ownership', their backing.

    Chocolateboxkid (13) - Because that would dilute everybody's shareholdings. And I'm not sure why you think Arsenal the club is exploiting its fans through this scheme. Nobody is forcing anybody to buy anything.

    TheTomTyke (18) - I missed the game but I know all about the Packers. I've even been to Green Bay. You're right about their "story", and the connection they have with their area, but don't mistake what's going on there for something else. Basically, the Packers' success is a testament to the NFL's in-built checks and balances to foster competition AND its revenue-sharing prowess. As a one-team city (without even a huge college team to cause distraction), Green Bay can comfortably compete with the "bigger markets" that would dominate in a EPL environment. Throw in the fact that they draw in support from across the state and make the most of things like their fierce winters, and you have a number of reasons why they are so successful. For a good contrast, take a look at Major League Baseball. No salary cap, limited revenue-sharing and a less significant draft system and you have a league much more like the EPL than the NFL.

    jem (23) - You're probably right. But what I like about both the Arsenal and FC United schemes is that it doesn't necessarily have to be so black/white and confrontational. For slightly different reasons, both clubs are looking for a more consensual approach, one that brings people along and gives a sense of shared purpose. I'm all for giving it a chance.

    varsas (27) - Nicely explained. I also think it's worth pointing out that the Arsenal Fanshare has only been going for about six months. They've come a long way in a short time.

    jimmypoll (32) - I've written about that before (and the similar plans of fans at Newcastle and elsewhere) and this piece was about two new schemes that will both be looked at by the DCMS select committee hearings into football governance that started today. I'm not saying the Liverpool situation isn't relevant to that debate - it is - but there's only so much you can fit in one blog.

    asstttonnvilllaaa (33) - That's probably the most boring comment I've ever read. I struggled to..................nope, couldn't manage it.

    LimeyDG (36) - Not so much "failed to mention" them, but chose not to. A different topic for a different blog. Likewise Exeter City, who I have mentioned in glowing terms in about half dozen blogs over the last year or so. Go Grecians!

    Right, that's enough from me. Thanks for reading.

  • Comment number 42.

    There's too much wrong with football for a few fan-share clubs to make any difference.Yes, we need proper scrutiny of prospective owners to stop what happened at Brighton Doncaster Wimbledon over the years, but the FA cant/wont bring any needed changes as the premier league is over represented on commitees-its amazing how OUTGOING FA chairman bemoan the lack of needed change but do NOTHING when in office.
    Money speaks too loudly. I can only presume new fans (ieTV fans) are happy with the 1970's American MLS style game on offer and its Harlem Globetrotter style exhibition matches as so many teams cant compete.And as long as they are and keep paying, it doesn't matter a damn about the football fan who goes week in week out to games.Just look at Scotland to see how disasterous and tedious the English game will become and remain. Scots fans want a return to competitive football-the old 2 divisions with one home & away game a season, but there's no way thats going to happen for what little money is on offer, the TV demands (as do armchair addicts) endless Celtic v Rangers games.
    Just as the Champions league is turning Barcelona v...... into a bore for football fans (not those in armchairs) so the TV deal in Scotland has done the impossible and made old firm games a bore.
    The average age of a premier league match attendee is about 45, which is incredibly old when you factor in how small a percentage are 18-24.
    TV and money dictates and has ruined the game forever. FIFA Manager games on X Box create more competition and excitement!

 

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