Search Menu

Fans Should Own Newcastle, Not Run It

Share

According to the Times, Newcastle United have 7 parties with a strong interest in buying the club, with 3 of them showing proof of funds as well. For a club without a permanent manager and an emotional owner who is the textbook definition of a glory fan, it’s good news.

Whether the interested parties can cough up the 300m Ashley wants or whether they’ll offer 200m for a club with transfer fees to pay and a massive wage bill is irrelevant. Ashley wants to sell more than he wants to make a profit at this point, and while he’ll push to cover his investment he will sell before he spends another 20m next season.

What’s important is that fans are also interested in taking over Newcastle.

Now I’m not a fan of the MyFC project nor do I think the Liverpool group will be able to raise the funds needed but in this case there’s a certain poetic appeal to it. As a institution, Newcastle are as low as they can be sans relegation. After years of turmoil fans have turned on the owners and in the age of billionaire buyouts a Premier League club owned (or partially owned) by fans is the best way forward for Newcastle to bring the fans back into the fold.

Can ‘Newcastle Fans United’ raise enough money to buy out Ashley? I doubt it, but if they do, or if they do a partial takeover which is enough to leave Ashley as a major shareholder but not in charge of running the club, it must be with two things in mind:

One – fans can own Newcastle, but professionals should run the club.

Democracy is over-rated. Democracy attached at the hip with mob-like emotions is downright dangerous. A community-owned club is a great idea but the fans should be limited to fundamental, structural decisions (such as voting on the club’s constitution). For decisions that involve running the club – team selection, transfers, who’s elected to the board of directors, etc – let professionals handle it.

Two – mistakes in Spain and England should not be repeated.

People often cite Barcelona and Real Madrid as examples of fan-owned clubs. There’s plenty of politics and power struggles going on at Barcelona, some of it unhealthy enough to affect the club, and then there’s Calderon at Real Madrid. In England MyFC is a shining example of what to do right and wrong in buying a club for the fans.

No model is perfect. If NFU can learn from the mistakes of others, that’ll be much more than what we’ve seen at St James’ Park in a long, long time.

Comments (4)

  1. Interesting thoughts Ahmed. My two cents (or more):

    1. MyFC is fan-owned, but not fan-owned in the traditional sense infosar as many of the members aren’t (or weren’t until the takeover) Ebbsfleet fans so there’s not that connection there.

    2. I agree totally with point one that there should be professionals in charge, but with a democratic way of holding those in power to account. To that end, the fans should look to the examples of supporter-owned/controlled clubs like Stockport, Brentford and Exeter, or Swansea, where the fans don’t own the club but have a significant say.

    3. Ian King at 200 Per Cent did an excellent post around this subject a couple of days ago:

    http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?p=1095

  2. Gary,

    I agree to an extent with point 2. My argument is that you don’t allow fans to vote in and vote out people (except for fan-based board representation) but you have fans vote on rules and regulations that govern the running of the club as well as standards for dismissing and hiring employees. Then you sit back and let the experts handle it.

    Ian’s written a lot of good stuff on MyFC and the whole fan ownership thing.

  3. The thing with ebbsfleet and myfc is that the members do NOT pick the team. They are merely members of a fan club.

  4. Jack, we do have the option to pick the team but the majorety decides, and so far the majorety believes the manager is the best man. So we are picking the team in a sense.