Following the lead of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, more fans are being offered a stake in their club.
‘Barca’ has 130,000 club members and more than 1,600 fan clubs around the world. Members make democratic decisions, including electing the club’s president every four years. The club runs a foundation which actively campaigns on a wide range of social issues including HIV/Aids. And in a departure from the usual football sponsorship deal, Barca donates €1.5 million every year to Unicef, whose logo appears on the players’ shirts.
In Britain, meanwhile, there’s growing interest in supporters’ co-operatives taking ownership stakes in clubs, as has happened with Exeter City and Wimbledon. Further north, disgruntled Manchester United fans who opposed the takeover of the club by US businessman Malcolm Glazer, set up their own semi-professional club, FC United. - Simon Birch