Fan Ownership

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Co-operatives UK and David Conn:

"Sandro Rosell, criticising the Premier League's model of ownership. As Rosell says:

“Barcelona is not a business, it is a feeling. We are not owned by anybody.”

That’s not to say it can’t be operated as a business - between 2003 and 2009, turnover at Barca increased from €123.4 million (£108.2 million) to €384.8 million, so it’s a very successful business. As a co-operatively owned one, it’s owned by the members – so the 180,000 ‘socios’, rather than one or two individuals.

But what Rosell is obviously referring to is the true nature of a Club - Clubs need to run in sync with this and need to be owned by those affected most by the decisions, who respect the Club’s history and heritage, who understand it is not just a business. When an organisation is co-operatively owned, the interests and incentives of the Club and its members can be aligned.

Last year, Co-operatives UK translated the statutes for FC Barcelona into English and published these to spread awareness of the potential for large-scale fan ownership. Again, there is some survey evidence of potential public support for the idea of co-operative ownership:

  • 83% of Manchester United fans and 72% 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, felt the same way."