WHAT IS SUPPORTER OWNERSHIP?
When SD talk about supporter/community ownership we mean that:
- A minimum of 50% +1 of the voting rights of the Club to be controlled collectively by a democratic entity which has an open and inclusive membership.
- The clubs are 'Democratic’ and the membership of the entity work on a one member one vote principle
- The clubs are ‘Inclusive’ and that there are no substantial barriers to participation as a voting member, with membership open to all that are sympathetic to the aims of the Club.
- Any profits are reinvested back into the Club as opposed to being distributed to shareholders.
- The Club is committed to running as a sustainable business.
Some of the potential benefits to being a community owned club are:
- Strategic Partnerships
A club owned by its community has the potential to develop deeper longer term strategic partnerships, particularly local authorities who historically favour this model
Clubs operate to more financially responsible standards, and can attract a different type of investment and utilise a different type of finance
A community ownership structure can be beneficial to attract and retain sponsorship above and beyond what a privately-owned club can expect
- Developing/securing facilities
Community owned clubs offer greater protection and transparency within their constitution, which appeals to partners and funders.
Giving people the chance to own a Club, can increase their connection with it, so people share the responsibility of sustaining ‘their’ club
- Volunteering and participation at the Club
A greater buy-in and trust from the community can unlock more volunteers and participation
- Match day spending/donations
If supporters know that the money they spend will be reinvested in the Club, they are more likely to spend or donate more.
Some of the common challenges to overcome are:
- Collective responsibility
The club will only be big as the community willing to support it. Most supporters are familiar with a private ownership model where although their may be a moral sense of ownership in reality it is more akin to consumers rather than owners of a small enterprise.
- Expectation in decision making
Although the ownership will be equally distributed of course it is impractical and unworkable for everyone to be involved in every decision. In reality decision making powers will need to be delegated to the Board, sub groups as well as individuals who are employed and empowered to undertake roles.
Cashflow in any small business is king. Having the ability to fall back on wealthy individuals to plug short term gaps such as games being called off might not be possible or desirable. The club will need to adopt a different strategy to many of their competitors when it comes to managing money.
You can find a list of clubs that SD has worked with that are supporter owned here
Find more about the potential benefits of supporter/community ownership here
Read a case study about a group of fans who decided to set-up a new club called FC United of Manchester here