Bin the billionaire boys club – now is the time for 50+1…

Editor F365

Football billionaire’s boys club is bad for fans and bad for business, the time has come for 50+1.

“As far as I’m concerned you can throw all those medals you’ve won in the bin” so said the great Brian Clough to his Leeds United team, the way they had gone about their football, jarring to the romantic in ol’ big head.

You could stretch that quote to the “dirty dozen” European Super League plotters, most of them with some sort of rich history or another, their reputations damaged, possibly irrevocably in a show of gluttony not seen since Sloth and Chunk got at the rocky road ice cream in the Goonies.

Liverpool’s John W Henry, one of the billionaires who have picked off the top-level sport played by kids in the playground, made a video in apology but probably did more harm than good.

Football’s own Deepwater Horizon oil spill, that you can throw money at to correct, but the greasy film will remain and the damage to the eco-system is done.

English football fans did the thing that no-one expected them to by organising and taking to the streets. Manchester United fans went to the club’s Carrington training ground to confront Ole Solskjaer and ask him to speak out against the despised Glazer family debt leveraged ownership of the 143 year-old club. They brandished a banner reading “50+1 MUFC”

That 50+1 refers to the 51% fan-ownership model that makes German football tick but now sweeping its way into the English football lexicon. The basic crux, transferable to the English game is that members of club should retain the golden share of 1% over 50, to protect fans, the businesses themselves and to stop brain-farts like the Super League from ever getting into the ether.

ITV News reported that Boris Johnson’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden was “struck” by the 50+1 model.

No wonder, for the reputational and financial harm of the Super League disaster towers over any potential restrictions of the sensible and successful German model. While 50+1 does have benefits for German fans in keeping away your Glazers as well as your Steve Dales at Bury, the Bundesliga is hugely efficient at keeping tills ringing with over €4billion revenues in 2018-19 and €1.4 billion in taxes and duties paid.

That figure may be below Premier League incomings but the Bundesliga is not dealing with the fallout of the Super League with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund unable to commit due to the fans’ control of the clubs. They will be chuckling on the sidelines and tapping their calculators as the basket-case Super League plotters unravel.

50+1 has been all over social media and the airwaves and it is to the detriment to the English fans’ movement that an equivalent model, to use a Bojo phrase, isn’t quite “oven ready”. There’s been plenty of time to formulate our own version of a fan-ownership scheme that is unprecedented in its branding and popularity and the Football Supporters’ Association should take a lead on that.

Kieran Maguire, the football finance expert is proposing supporters on club boards, an idea achieved as far back as 1992 by the late Brian Lomax, who saved Northampton Town via the first ever supporters’ trust and secured two seats on the board. The fact that we are presenting old, clever ideas as new is part of the problem of where the game finds itself.

What next for American owners? Man Utd | Liverpool | Arsenal

There’s been plenty focus on just how you achieve 50+1 at clubs like Manchester United, with valuations in the billions but Utd’s 1.1 billion reported fans may just get their act and the wallets together to bite the Glazers one the arse. Outside the big six in the top four English Leagues there are 86 other clubs and thousands in non-league where 50+1 is not just viable but needed, with a potential vanguard to round on the vampires sucking the goodwill out of the game.

There’s no getting away from the feeling that football’s billionaires boys club is not just bad for fans and the soul of the game but also bad for business.

While fans of the six snakes consider the impact of this filthy affair on the achievements of their clubs over decades, an industry looking for a brighter future should throw away any piecemeal ideas for reform and commit to 50+1 globally.

Tom Reed – he’s on the Twitter