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23rd Apr 2021

Government review to consider 50+1 ownership in English football

Simon Lloyd

50+1 ownership is one of several models to be considered by the fan-led review

A fan-led government review of English football will look at the club ownership structures currently in place following the controversy of the Super League fiasco.

The review is set to consider a number of different issues within the game, including ownership, finance and the role of supporters in making key decisions at their clubs.

The proposal put forward by 12 of European football’s wealthiest clubs – including England’s ‘Big Six’ – was met with fierce criticism from supporters and players alike, eventually prompting a majority of the owners of the clubs involved to pull out of the plan.

The review will explore the viability of introducing a number of different kinds of ownership models to the English game, with the 50+1 rule amongst those to be looked at.

The 50+1 rule is used in Germany, preventing clubs from playing in the Bundesliga if one commercial investor owns a stake of more than 49%. As a result, supporters have a huge say in addressing key decisions made by their clubs.

Nigel Huddleston, the UK Sports Minister, stressed that the review must be “a watershed moment” for football. Tracey Crouch MP, who will chair the review and feed recommendations back to the government and the Football Association, added that it will l “take the necessary steps to retain the game’s integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community”.

“While foreign ownership has undoubtedly benefited the development of the game, the review will seek to test whether existing oversight is sufficient to protect the interests of the game,” a statement from the UK government said.

Despite the Super League plan falling apart, supporters of the clubs involved have held protests throughout the week.

On Thursday, after their club had announced they had withdrawn from the plans, Manchester United supporters entered their training ground to protest against the plans and the club’s ownership by the Glazer family.

Tottenham and Chelsea fans have also staged protests this week, with Arsenal supporters set to hold protests against their owners on Friday, ahead of their side’s Premier League encounter with Everton.