MSPs back fan ownership of football clubs law change

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone's amendments to the community empowerment Bill were unanimously supported by the Holyrood's local government committee. Picture: TSPL
Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone's amendments to the community empowerment Bill were unanimously supported by the Holyrood's local government committee. Picture: TSPL
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A HOLYROOD committee today approved plans to allow fans to buy their football clubs though community ownership schemes, that would see them register with ministers and then have six months to raise the cash for the buy-outs.

The move could allow supporters trusts to take over clubs facing financial meltdown, such as the crises experienced by football giants such as Rangers and Hearts.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone’s amendments to the community empowerment Bill were unanimously supported by the Holyrood’s local government committee.

The bill sets out plans to expand community right-to-buy to public sector land and buildings, and will now be extended to include football clubs’ membership shares.

Ms Johnstone’s proposals mean that fans’ trusts will have first right of refusal if their club is being sold or has gone into financial administration, and the right to make a bid at any time if they have clear backing from supporters.

She said: “Football has been dragged from the back pages of Scotland’s newspapers to the front by a series of catastrophic failures, from small clubs like Gretna to clubs at the very top like Hearts and Rangers,” she said.

“The current model of ownership has failed, and we know from Scotland and elsewhere that fan ownership works.

“Fans are obviously going to be the people with the long-term interests of their clubs closest to their hearts.”

She added: “There are many well-run Scottish clubs in private hands, but those owners come and go and when they go, we want to see fans have the first right of refusal.

“Where there’s a committed and well-organised group of fans with strong support on the terraces for a takeover, we want them to have the power to do so.”