Bernstein Backdown Evokes a Sea Breeze of Change

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5 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    “Even if they are not originally fans of that club they do understand that there is no club without its supporters and that its inextricable link to its community is what makes every football club special and unique.”

    When is Bernstein closing franchise down then?

    More meaningless tripe from those (mis)managing our national sport.

  2. fred says:

    I think the idea that big business is always bad is also rather tired.

    Yes there are the well known examples that you cite but frankly a lot of these are more regulatory failures than failures of “big business”, seeing as several of those shysters were only pretending to be big business and therein lay the problem.

    Those with lots of money and the willingness to spend it have fared well, trophies in the near term and more importantly more organic growth of the club via improved facilities and academies that will last well after the people in question have moved on.

    Next, there is the issue of ownership versus control. There are many supporters movements that have ownership but nothing approaching control – AST for example at Arsenal have shares but they give them little more than admittance to the AGM. Even clubs such as Swansea City and Portsmouth are majority owned – and therefore controlled – by business owners. Portsmouth couldn’t raise enough money through PST to stop the majority of shares being owned by the high net worth individuals without whom the rescue would never have taken place. Swansea are nearly 80% owned by a few business owners with the supporters group having a representative on the board but again nowhere near control. Even significant influence would be a questionable claim.

    So perhaps this is where the long term solutions lies: representation without control.

    Supporters get a say, get a board member, but have to cede control to those with the real firepower in financial terms. Would this be better than now? Well it ought to be better than supporters getting short shrift or completely blanked But when the two sides disagree who will get their way?
    As for oft-cited foreign clubs, Bayern and Barcelona may be “fan owned” but they are hardly fan controlled. Bayern’s big pockets are thanks to the ownership stakes of Audi and Adidas who between them invested over €160m for their shares. As for Barcelona well good luck being elected their next president, their presidential elections mirror those in the USA: pay to win. It also wasn’t too long ago they were struggling to pay wages and having to dump recently signed players at a large loss just to get by.

    So I don’t believe that fan ownership is the panacea it is often portrayed as. In the future fans will keep hoping they get owned by wealthy benefactors, not pwned by frauds and wannabies.

  3. SJMaskell says:

    Interesting to hear the other POV fred but generalities do not stand up to particularities.

    The benefactor model has pretty much been killed off by Abramovich and Mansour raising the stakes so high that it is difficult for others to compete. The wage inflation they have induced has more or less cornered the market. That is Burnham’s point. These vested interests have retained the spoils and are knocking the game out of kilter.

    The argument is not ‘big business bad’ but big business not an appropriate model to encourage competitive balance and sustainability in football clubs.

    Nor is the argument that Supporter ownership is the panacea. Supporter ownership can only work if governance of and by the clubs is appropriately structured. That structure needs to be as much ethically based as it is financially sound. If a so called ‘big business’ (your phrase, not mine) came in with a strong community philosophy that was enshrined in its governance laws then I say, let them try their hand.

    One factual matter – the Pompey Supporters Trust is the majority shareholder at PFC. It currently holds around 60% of the the shares in the club, although the share issue is not yet closed. I think that gives it a fair deal of control. The other 40% shareholders, of whom there are 11, are Pompey fans of long standing, not businessmen who have bought in for reasons of profit or control. The share agreement forbids dividends.

  4. Niamh says:

    As someone over from the League of Ireland, I thought Andy Burnham made some excellent points – and credit is due to Berstein and his response.

    The summit / SD event is always worth attending and it was great to see people from all over Europe at this time around.

  5. Margaret says:

    I was at the Supporters Summit and think this is a great summary of the main points that were made there. I have referred to this article on my blog but didn’t cut and paste and did provide links.

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