Takeovers of English football clubs by the fans of the club

The takeover of football clubs in England

The Football Association Premier League in England is the biggest league in world football in terms of the income that can be generated. Accordingly it is becoming an extremely attractive market for wealthy businessmen throughout the World.

Over the last few years there has been a large increase in English football clubs being taken over by foreign investors.

How can foreign investors take over English football clubs?

The way in which foreign investors will take over an English football club will depend upon the already existing structure of the Football Club.

The ownership structures of football clubs playing in England can differ between privately owned companies and public limited companies (plc). Accordingly if a foreign investor wants to take over an English football club they will have to do this in accordance with the rules in relation to the existing structure of the club.

For example if the club is a privately owned company then they will simply have to have an appropriate offer accepted by the existing owners. However, if the club is a plc then there is a requirement that the new owner has a certain number of shares in place before they can take ownership of the club.

What is the problem with the foreign investment into English football?

Although there is the potential for new owners of football clubs to bring much more money into the game there is also the potential for the new owners to place the club in a precarious financial position. For example when one Premier League football club was taken over by American owners in 2005 the club was plunged into huge amounts of debts as vast loans were taken out in order to purchase the club.

This kind of investment has attracted strong criticism from fans which in some quarters have put together proposals to own the football club themselves.

How would the fans take over ownership of the club?

If a group of fans wished to take over ownership of the football club this would have to be done in exactly the same way in which a new owner would do it. This would be done either by making an offer to the existing owners or by purchasing enough shares to assume legal ownership of the club.

How would it be possible for fans to do this?

Many football fans will own a few shares in their football club but it seems a strange proposition for a group of ordinary fans to purchase enough to assume ownership of the club.

However, in relation to one Premier League club there has been a recent proposal put together by fans which has aimed to attract wealthy business investors who are also fans of the club to put together a body which would have enough money to purchase the club.

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For more information on:

  • Would this work in practice?
  • Are there any clubs which are owned by the fans in the top level of world football?
  • How are major decisions taken by the club?
  • How is the President appointed?
  • Would this work in English football?
  • Is the UK Government trying to do anything to improve the possibility of football fans owning their club?
  • Is it likely that these changes will be implemented?
  • Would these proposals be met with animosity from the footballing powers?