Storify on Spanish Member-Owned Clubs

August 7th, 2013|

Dyke and the Blazers

March 28th, 2013|

The appointment of Greg Dyke as new FA Chairman had me pleasantly surprised, not least given his on the record views about FA Councillors and the organisation as a whole. […]

10 Things I Know About Football From a Decade at Supporters Direct

March 25th, 2013|

I've written a piece for Stand: Against Modern Football for their latest edition, themed around ownership. They asked me to write abut 10 things I'd learnt about fans and football in my time at Supporters Direct; some of them I kind of knew already, and my experience confirmed the suspicion, so it;s more 10 things I know for sure about football and fans.

Swansea Memories

February 22nd, 2013|

Swansea City’s presence in the League Cup Final has occasioned lots of pieces on their rebirth as a force in football, and the role of the Trust in that.

It brings back some fond and strong memories. Swansea City was, with Chesterfield, my first proper case when working at Supporters Direct, and it bookends my time there to some extent. […]

Not in the Wider Interests of Football

December 3rd, 2012|

This article was first published in Yellow & Blue (incorporating Fanzines United) on 2 December 2012, a fanzine put together by fans on the occasion of AFC Wimbledon’s 2nd round match in the FA Cup against a town in Buckinghamshire which stole a league place some years earlier, to be sold at a gathering at the club’s ground, Kingsmeadow where fans from other clubs had been invited to show solidarity with them.

It was such a weasel phrase in the FA commission report, that fans creating AFC Wimbledon was “not in the wider interests of football”. It sounded all high and mighty and considered, but on closer inspection, all it revealed was what the panelists thought of fans and the notion that fans could run their own clubs. […]

A funny kind of democracy

May 17th, 2012|

Back in the day when I was at Supporters Direct, I set up a google RSS feed to feature any mention of ‘supporters trust’, and it brought me this article on Monday, about events down at Exeter.

This post isn’t about the League Two salary cost management protocol. It’s about  what is meant by fan democracy. […]

Would your football club be better run as a co-operative?

May 9th, 2012|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]I’ve done a piece for  The Guardian on football clubs and co-operation, making the case for why it’s the best form for them to take, what progress has been made in the last decade, and what challenges they still face to become a successful part of the landscape.[/author_info] [/author] […]

Football in 2011 – Speaker’s Corner Trust Debate

February 10th, 2011|

Football Fans Do Not Expect to Pick The Team

January 20th, 2011|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Published in The Guardian’s Right of Reply page following a piece by Louise Taylor which asserted that the fan-ownership movement was misguided in its aims and not the best way forward for clubs. I was given a chance to respond to her piece several days later.[/author_info] [/author]

Supporters just want clubs to be run democratically, rather than by the dictatorship of chairmen

In her column on the role of fans in the ownership and governance of football clubs, Louise Taylor debates whether it’s better to have “benevolent dictatorship or democracy” (Power to the people is false economy, 13 January). But in siding with the former, she says that “some supporters need reminding that purchasing a season ticket buys the rental of a seat rather than the right to elect a new manager or left-back”. […]

Barca – Co-operation & the Future of Football

June 14th, 2010|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Commissioned by Co-operatives UK for publication during Co-operatives Fortnight in 2010 alongside the first publication in the UK of the English translation of the club’s statutes. You can download a PDF of the pamphlet here, and a PDF of the statutes here.[/author_info] [/author]

What is a football club?
Before you can decide what a club should do, you really need to have a clear picture of what it is for. Such questions are rarely, if ever, asked in English football; such a failure may explain the fact that if we try to reverse engineer a club’s purpose from its activities, we’d get a strange variety of answer. […]

That Sinking Feeling, or How Not To Waste a Crisis

May 14th, 2009|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in May 2009 as the UK entered recession and, for the first time since the creation of the Premier League, English football would not be buoyed by the wider economic climate.[/author_info] [/author]

In the last two months of the season, four Football League clubs entered administration, and in the space of one week, three non-league clubs were wound-up. Nobody believes that’s anything but the start. Football Conference Chairman Brian Lee says he can’t remember a more challenging time for clubs at that level, and he’s right to be worried. The issue is not whether clubs will be insolvent, but how many, how far up the leagues the problems will go. […]

Should Football Allow Leveraged Buyouts?

January 23rd, 2008|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Published in The Guardian’s Sporting debate column where I went head-to-head with Joe McLean of Grant Thornton’s football unit. Joe was in favour of a relaxed attitude to the leveraged takeovers of football clubs, whilst I took the contrary view.[/author_info] [/author]

The idea of a leveraged takeover is that an asset is undervalued and somebody thinks they can make more money out of it so they use debt to acquire the club and then try to make the money back. It’s based on speculation, so the only sure-fire winners tend to be the people who sell up and leave the clubs behind.

Once the debt has been taken on you are at the whim of capital markets and that means the size of the liability can be beyond the club’s control. At least at Arsenal – though they are hardly without debt – they are on a long-term fixed rate deal. Debt can help achieve new goals but if the only reason is to transfer ownership from one party to another, then the question of most fans would be ” Why are we doing this?” It seems like if you have this kind of debt you have to make more money just to stand still. […]

The Case for Salary Caps

August 20th, 2006|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Written for Supporters Direct’s quarterly magazine in 2006, making the case for cost-control in football to bring an end to seemingly continual inflationary pressures; the policy ideas behind this were part of a wider debate which influenced UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative.[/author_info] [/author]

In a recent article in the magazine, I mentioned the idea of wage constraints on clubs. It’s an issue that’s increased in profile recently, a sure sign that the debate is shifting. The issue is particularly relevant within the Trust movement, as it addresses a major problem they all Trust-run and Trust-influenced clubs face. […]

Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

July 20th, 2006|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Written for the match day programme for the Supporters Direct Cup, played between AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester in 2006. The Cup is an annual match played between two fan-owned clubs, for a trophy purchased by donations by members of the Supporters Direct mailing list.[/author_info][/author]

We’re delighted to be involved in the fourth hosting of the Supporters Direct Cup. On a personal level, I’m especially delighted that for the first time, the match is taking place outside the M25, at the ground where my Granddad watched his football and where there is a seat named after him as part of the Save our Shakers appeal a few years back. […]

Oh, FC United!

June 13th, 2006|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Written for Supporters Direct’s quarterly magazine in 2006, reviewing life at fan-owned football co-operative FC United of Manchester, one year after their formation in May 2005 soon after the Glazer family’s takeover at Manchester United.[/author_info] [/author]

When it was first reported that disgruntled fans of Manchester United were thinking of starting their own team, many in the football world scoffed. Some couldn’t see the point, whilst others couldn’t see that it would work.

There was certainly scepticism amongst many football administrators and club officials in the leagues where the new club was being touted to play. More than one thought that such a club would be little more than a three-game protest. They couldn’t have been more wrong. […]