Villa fans chief slams idea for ‘50+1’ ownership in England

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The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust Director has slammed the idea to introduce the ‘50+1’ model of football ownership in England.

Following the collapse of plans by the Premier League ‘Big Six’ to become part of a breakaway ‘Super League’, fans of English football have started a petition to ‘Enforce the “50+1” Rule for professional football club ownership in the UK’.

Image showing the petition for 50 plus 1 football ownership in England
A petition to introduce a new model of ownership has received thousands of signatures. Image: petition.parliament.uk

The ‘50+1’ rule is a German style of football ownership where ‘members’ – such as registered fans of a club – own 50% of their club plus one share to ensure no single investor can become the majority shareholder.

The petition has so far received more than 85,000 signatures from people across the UK and surpassed the 10,000 signatures mark, which requires the Government to provide an official response to the petition.

However, Villa Supporters’ Trust director, Jonny Gould, believes the current style of ownership in England is a better model: “In a more active free market, it’s great to have an owner because if they are passionate about their club, they know how to make it prosper.

“I prefer our style of ownership because the football is more democratic and more free market.

“There were four or five teams fighting for the Premier League this season – which is more than you can say about the European leagues.”

Gould doesn’t believe a move towards fan ownership is viable. He said: “The problem with the climate as it is, is that fan ownership would secure more security and stability but those hearty people have got to keep a club afloat and sometimes the weight can be too big.”

fans in stadium
Jonny Gould believes the pressure on fans to run their club would be too much

Kieran Maguire, who runs The Price of Football blog, doesn’t believe the idea would work in England.

He told ITV News: “I think it would be very difficult because Manchester United shares for example are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Therefore, we’d have compliance issues over in the US and the UK and there’s certainly no appetite as the US authorities are concerned for changing ownership regimes in English football clubs.”

Last week, the Government announced the start of a fan-led review into English football led by Tracey Crouch MP, which will look at football governance and the impact of clubs on local communities for example.

Maguire believes if the ‘50+1’ model was to be introduced, it would need the backing from government.

He added: “I think we would need some form of support from government through legislation.

“There’s no reason why the Government couldn’t legislate that fan representatives have to sit on the boards of directors, so therefore they could act as the eyes and ears of the whole fan base to ensure that decisions were not being made that were counter productive to the interests of fans.”

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