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Barry Rathbone
1 Posted 26/04/2021 at 20:18:17
Does this refer to fans voting on club policy or is it a financial commitment, ie, fans stump up 51% of the share value?
Dennis Stevens
2 Posted 26/04/2021 at 20:31:22
If you click on the link, it takes you to the petition to sign:

"Petition

Enforce the “50+1” Rule for professional football club ownership in the UK. Bring in a law which enforces professional football clubs to have at least 51% fan ownership similar to how the Bundesliga operates this rule.

The new “European super league” plans show the clear greed of elite football club owners in England. This precedent of profit over people is already taking the game away from everyday people who founded and made the sport what it is. This law would ensure decisions made around the clubs would take the fans and good of the game as a priority over money."

So it's about ownership. I think there's a suggestion that clubs could be obliged to offer supporters trusts first refusal on any share sale, up to 51%.

It may be worth signing just to push the total past 100,000 (it's nearly half-way already) and oblige the Government to have it debated in the Commons.

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:00:30
Now, having harped on many times about my admiration for the structure of German football, I'm going to sound very contradictory to my own views. I can counter that by stating my real love of the German game is the grass roots.

The 50 plus one rule is a sound moral concept and does provision for regulating the governance of clubs. The aim is to ensure members maintain 51% voting rights over external influence (investors).

But being pedantic, they are members, not necessarily fans. They pay for the privilege of being a member. Now yes, we can call it a supporters trust, and of course most members will have interests in the club, most probably as fans. Bill Kenwright is a fan.

But it leaves loopholes. It's how RB Leipzig have overcome it much to the disgust of a lot of German football. Their "members" pay a higher premium than was traditional to generate more funds. Also, if a member has invested for over 20 years, the external tag is wavered. Think Bayer, the sponsors of Leverkusen, or Volkswagen with Wolfsburg.

Unfortunately, despite it's magnificent grass roots set up that continues to produce players of the highest quality, the German professional game is too being taken over by money. I was dismayed when I started seeing the Sky logo in German bars several years back. The revenue generated by the Bundesliga has doubled in the past decade and a vast majority of that is apportioned to Bayern and Dortmund. They too argue over distribution of wealth just as we do. The majority promote spread, those two want what more of what they consider theirs. Sound familiar?

Okay, that's an advocate of German football putting a negative spin on what is in principle a sound concept. All I would add is that German football didn't necessarily adopt the 50 + 1 rule, it has built it's foundations on it. To change our model to this would be a massive challenge. Even if the billionaire owners were forced to give up their over 50% share of the spoils to "members", they will command a premium for that. Who is going to pay? Fans? Or other investors looking for a return of investment? We got ourselves into a viscous cycle of greed many years ago I'm afraid and it won't be undone quickly.

I'm playing Devil's Advocate to my own views. I like the 50 + 1 rule, but it isn't the sliver bullet solution many believe it to be. Not at the professional, elite top flight level. It just means the money men have to figure out a different way to exploit it.

Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:08:11
I agree with your concerns, Danny. I suspect the way to protect the game in England is to beef up the control that the Premier League & FA have, backed up by Government legislation. Sadly, I really can't see anything of any real substance coming to fruition.

The Superior Six will just feel encouraged to have yet another attempt, but better prepared, organised & marketed.

Barry Rathbone
5 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:19:47
The 50+1 does seem to be a buzz word answer picked up by fans seeking a simple solution and as the excellent explanation from Danny O'Neil shows it's not a silver bullet the answer lies elsewhere
Dale Self
6 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:20:44
There are protections that we need to seek for the game itself and then there are actions that we need for restricting big money men moves that are simply about asset capture and increased valuations. I have not a damn clue as to what they are, just speculating.
Robert Tressell
7 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:44:57
Before ruling out the 50 + 1, I'd be interested to know how many insolvencies etc there have been in Germany. I suspect it achieves something of use even if it does not solve everything. As Danny's post suggests it's not the end of all ills in UK football.

Getting a commons debate at least seems like a step forward, because it at least puts pressure on the greedy 6 and forces the discussion into the open.

Barry Hesketh
8 Posted 26/04/2021 at 21:45:32
The Guardian ran a piece yesterday which shows that Danny is spot on about the true state of the German game particularly at the top end - there's not much difference twixt the English elite and the German elite in terms of ideology.


German Model

Tony Everan
9 Posted 26/04/2021 at 22:00:36
Thanks for that post Danny, very informative, and I can't see how it would work here. I think they will like the ethos of it and try to nail down owners in some other way.

The biggest issue now may not be the formation of the ESL. It will be the creation of a similar beast via the current Champions League. For starters the VIP pass Legacy Coefficients are almost like the no relegation ticket. Then they will be relentless in pursuit of more TV money.

These creeping, stealth like inequalities, will begin to add up to protectionism. It will become an anticompetitive, cartel like the super league, but by the back door.

This is the real and present danger and it already has roots. Most worryingly the unstoppable PR and media control will steer it away from any overt criticism before it becomes the new normal.

Hey presto, whilst everyone has been bolting the front door, the thief had climbed in through the back window and stole the gold.

The authorities via a new regulator have to look at ALL anticompetitive moves and be legally able to veto them. If not we'll end up the same destination but via a different route.

Any other watered down outcome from the review will be a complete and utter waste of time and amount to a gift to the greedy, cartel elite.

Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 26/04/2021 at 22:04:40
Very good point Robert (on insolvencies). This is key to understanding how a model that has worked for German football may not necessarily work here.

One of my arguments, probably not very popular, is that at all levels, we have too many clubs. We effectively have 5 professional leagues now when you look at the clubs in the Conference (or whatever its called these days). That is not sustainable and why clubs are financially on their arses.

The German league only added a 3rd professional tier in 2008. After that you are into regional and semi-professional space. In a country with a population of over 85 million in comparison to England's 55 million.

Some may not like it as it is radical to suggest and clubs and names would go, but one of the cures could be streamlining of the game.

John Pickles
11 Posted 27/04/2021 at 14:10:52
Closing barn door.

Horse.

Bolted.

Andrew Ellams
12 Posted 27/04/2021 at 15:08:26
I agree with Danny's theory on too many full time professional clubs. I think there is something like 120 in the pyramid.

This season Chorley made headlines because of their cup run but last year they were relegated from the National League because being a part time club their players struggled with the commitment and fitness levels required. It's crazy at that level and sucks money out of the game too because clubs costs are way higher than they ever were before.

Alan J Thompson
13 Posted 27/04/2021 at 15:30:15
Sounds all well and good but at the moment it is not known where all Everton's shares are or who now owns them. Easy to remedy, I know, but just a matter of fact and what are they worth now, 2-3000 quid a throw? And if the major shareholder was to own 49% (or would it be 50% less 1?) not many would be needed to agree or even just "abstain" from voting for the power to remain where it is. Or if Mr Moshiri was forced to sell/lessen a proportion of his current holding could this then mean Mr Kenwright could possibly hold the balance of power? A lot seems to rely on all the Fan Holding voting as a block.

Or am I totally misunderstanding it all?

Ian Burns
14 Posted 27/04/2021 at 15:32:26
Danny - 3 - an excellent post and spot on in that the 50+1 rule was built from the bottom up and to try to incorporate that into the English league is unworkable, certainly at the top of the PL which is what this petition is really trying to affect.

I also agree with the point about the number of clubs in our leagues, especially when you see such as Plymouth vs Carlisle on Christmas Day (an exaggeration I know but I was just trying to make a point).

I feel the game has gone too far in favour of the elite and we have to find a way to plug the leak, so to speak, before the 6 drain the life out of domestic competition.

The PL has to bring in legislation that if any club enters into competition not sanctioned by the PL itself (or UEFA/FA etc) then they have to forfeit their place in the domestic league. That very simple change to the rule will kill the ESL from ever taking off because the supporters of these clubs simply wouldn't allow it to happen.

Two other points, I read somewhere that the Glazer brothers would sell out for 4bn. So I ask this Man U supporter where he thinks their support base is going to find 2bn+?

My final point is something I posted on another thread. If I am working and it is not EFC playing (obviously) I will follow the PL games on the BBC website. At the top of their football page it tells you how many people are following the game on that page. If a so-called top six are playing, the people on the page number far in excess of 200,000. However, if there isn't any top 6 team involved, it can be as low as 30,000. (50,000 last night on the Leicester vs CP game).

I mention this simply to point out the value the ESL 6 are to Sky and other media platforms, so a re-set is necessary but be careful what we wish for.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 27/04/2021 at 16:23:30
No, and that is another factor Alan and why it isn't the total solution for the English some are latching onto. Don't get me wrong, I love the German game, and to my earlier point, it is a much fairer concept on paper and gives an element of control back.

But to outvote a 49% major shareholder requires the 51% to be in absolute unity on every topic. Highly unlikely most of the time and only requires lobbying and swaying of a few voters.

You have to take into account cultural and political differences. I will apologise now for drawing in politics, but I feel it relevant as it explains.

Germany is a country of 16 states, each with it's own parliament and Prime Minister. It has run the last 4 or 5 Governments with our equivalent of a Conservative minority Government yet Merkel is considered Europe's most powerful leader. She hasn't had an absolute majority in those 4 or 5 parliaments. On 2 occasions, they have governed with the equivalent of a Conservative-Labour grand coalition.

Can you imagine that in our country? Melt down. We freaked out when we had a coalition and were in turmoil because Theresa May didn't have a majority (even though her margin was slightly more than Merkel's at the time). We can't even cope with devolution between 4 states let alone 16.

Okay, I'll wind this back in from politics, to football, but reiterate the relevance. Culturally, they are used to dealing with a minority shareholder negotiating with the other interested parties to move forward. We are more used to going with an absolute leader or shareholder and tribal politics. In business, in football, in politics.

Alan J Thompson
16 Posted 27/04/2021 at 16:55:41
Danny(#15); But is there a German Constitution that divides responsibilities between States and the Federal Government. For example, Defence would be a matter for the Federal (National) govt while Education or Health might be a State matter which doesn't mean they negotiate any better. It is quite probably easier to reach a common understanding under a set of rules/rights with a few who also have to please an electorate than it would be dealing with several thousand shareholders that can't be removed.

However, how are such day to day matters such as funds for player transfers or changing Coaches/Managers dealt with or does a club Constitution have to be set up allocating some responsibilities to the Board and others to a full AGM type meeting?

In short, how does a Fan Base Holding work in German clubs and how are objections raised to force a full shareholders vote on any matter?

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 27/04/2021 at 17:12:23
At the national level absolutely Alan. The Federal Government is responsible for foreign affairs, global economics and defence etc, the states generally govern themselves (health, education etc).

Bringing it back to football, that's the reality. If the governing entity has 49% majority, they wield power. They only need to sway a few, especially if they are a big money investor.

That's the point, the 51% is generally owned by members not fans. As I said earlier, they may well be supporters, but ultimately they are investors. I revert to my Bill Kenwright example; supporter, but member and investor.

Next season I will go to watch my German club, Schalke, play in Bundesliga 2 with their relegation confirmed. A club that is so close and attached to it's community in many ways like Everton is. Breaks my heart, but I'll make the trip(s). It's always great as they have the academy open on match day so you can walk up and watch the youth teams play in the shadow of the stadium.

Alan J Thompson
18 Posted 27/04/2021 at 17:21:32
Cheers, Danny.
Interesting but I'm not convinced that this sort of amendment to the shareholding will necessarily bring about a change or that which most fans may consider as good for the future of a club or a football competition. And regardless of government legislation this could be fought in the Courts for years without necessarily closing all loop holes.
Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 27/04/2021 at 17:28:27
Oh Alan, that's been my point. I don't think this works for English football.

As I said on my earlier post, I'm contradicting myself in some ways, but what works for one system won't work for another.

Alan J Thompson
20 Posted 27/04/2021 at 17:39:09
I got that, Danny, but you seemed to have a little more knowledge as to how it works in Germany while many seem to think that once this system is implemented then making a lot of noise will always be the answer and are under the impression that it appears to be what happened with German clubs not participating with the ESL 12. To me it was more a case of them doing nothing rather than democratically rejecting it because of the make up of shareholders.
Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 27/04/2021 at 18:30:14
At the top level, if you have 49% control you pretty much have power given that a lot of those members on the 51% side will vote with you a lot of the time. This model serves well at the lower end of the game, not necessarily at the elite layer as discussed earlier.

I think the way the German clubs behaved was admirable but there are 2 aspects to consider.

On the plus, you can argue that the 50 plus 1 rule kept them in check. There is merit in that because it genuinely will have installed morals into the clubs' ethos and their responsibility to their fans. Even Bayern and Dortmund. It goes back to them building their foundations on this vice reverse engineering like we would be.

But then, if you look at the language, they promote the route to change being through revamping the champions league. Which would potentially be a super league in all but name.

Bayern and Dortmund are supporting it by stealth and suggesting a different means.

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 27/04/2021 at 18:47:18
**I should say supporting change and restructuring of the Champions League. Not "it"; the ESL.
Stan Schofield
23 Posted 28/04/2021 at 11:04:06
The 50+1 issue is a detail, which might or might not work in the UK. What is really needed is more fundamental than that: Independent regulation of football.

Like any sphere where the public interest, the interest of the majority over the vested interests of wealthy and powerful minorities, is paramount, this is best secured through the rule of law, which is the societal regulation of human behaviour.

The current review of football, including the Crouch review, should provide a route to effective regulation. If that is not achieved, and behaviours of powerful minorities are not controlled for the benefit of all, then elite football is wrecked, and the latest attempt at a Super League will be a mere episode in a long process of a number of select clubs achieving increasing success whilst increasing numbers of lesser clubs fall by the wayside.

Alan J Thompson
24 Posted 29/04/2021 at 07:11:25
If the Government are so interested in stopping any future attempt at a European Super League then they need only change footballers work permits to allow them only to play for clubs that are members of and participants in an FA recognized British football league. The downside, of course, is that if approval is given for an acceptable ESL with relegation and promotion would this then still count as members but not participants, or could they adopt a lower League team as a European style "B" team or would that too be stripping some smaller club of its name and history? Alternatively, but most unlikely, could an ESL be set up where all but the "Champions" are relegated and replaced by the Champions of their National League, or would that be spreading the money too far for their liking.

Whatever way you look at it you keep coming back to the fact that it is all and only a matter of greed.

Brendan McLaughlin
25 Posted 20/05/2021 at 14:40:41
Got the numbers and due to be debated mid-June.

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