Chairman Of The Terrace: The Rise Of Fan-Owned Clubs
November 13, 2015
You only have to look at Blackpool FC to see that football fans aren’t always happy with their owners. They often make decisions we aren’t happy with and quite often will leave your club in a whole heap of debt. It’s unfair on the supporters who stick with their team through thick and thin. Whose Saturday afternoons are what they look forward to all week.
In recent times some fans have just become pound signs, others have seen their sides completely vanish. Just look at Wimbledon. Or Darlington. Or the dozens of others who have spent too much and disappeared.
But this doesn’t always have to happen anymore, fans don’t have to rely on moneymen. And there are plenty of teams out there proving it.
FC United of Manchester
One of the most high profile cases rose from the Glazer buy-out at Manchester United in which the American owners heaped £525million of debt on the club forcing disgruntled fans to form their own rebel club FC United of Manchester. For the fans and by the fans, the club now has over 5,000 members and after a decade they now sit towards the very top of the non-league pyramid.
They hit the headlines recently by protesting about the movement of their FA Cup game against Chesterfield, believing their matches should kick off in the traditional Saturday 3pm slot. Their fans are active in the way the club is run and this season moved into their own stadium for the first time, giving them another asset to be proud of as they continue to prove fan ownership is a viable option.
AFC Wimbledon have also proved this over the years, with a number of fans unwilling to travel north to watch the former Wimbledon play in Milton Keynes.
The club stormed through the leagues under a fan regime which saw them enter the Football League less than a decade after forming. They are strong in their stance on balancing the books, not wishing to fall like many clubs have over the years.
The club’s chief executive, Erik Samuelson said, “Clubs like ours are proof that you can balance the books, stay true to the community model and compete against privately owned rivals. Hopefully, our example, and that of other supporter owned clubs, offers hope to fans right across the game that this model can work.”
There are currently dozens of fan owned clubs proving it really is a viable option with them only having to answer to themselves. The likes of Chester, Hyde United, Wrexham, 1874 Northwich and Darlington 1883 are doing it, and their clubs are certainly a better place.