SFSA offers support for Community Empowerment Bill as Fan Ownership is debated at Holyrood

Date: 18th June 2015

The Community Empowerment Bill, set up by Green MSP Alison Johnstone, has been debated at Holyrood and amendments are now set to be discussed by Scottish Ministers over the summer.

The powers enabled by the Bill would give supporters’ groups the right to become the first and preferred bidders if the owner of their club decides to sell, or if the club is facing closure after a financial collapse.

This would be a monumental achievement and could change the shape of Scottish football in years to come. Fans would be given first option in buying their club, giving them the chance of saving it from potentially neglectful owners which have plagued Scottish football in recent years.

Given the incredible achievement of the Foundation of Hearts in saving Hearts FC from administration and then prospering to win the Championship, it is clear that community ownership is achievable in Scotland.

Given the growth of other fan groups such as Rangers First and The Well Society, it is also clear that Fan Ownership is set to become a much more integral part of Scottish Football in the very near future.

On the Bill itself, Johnstone said that; “The principle of a fans’ right to buy is overwhelmingly popular and parliament is doing the right thing by backing it.”

The SFSA’s board has vast expertise in Community Ownership in Scotland, and we are writing to all MSP’s and Scottish MP’s to offer them assistance and aid understanding of the opportunities and difficulties which can arise from Fan Ownership.

Not only this, but we are offering to host events for fans groups and clubs around the country at the start of the new season to help educate and consult on these proposals and the potential for Fan Ownership at every club in Scotland.

Paul Goodwin, the founder director of SFSA, believes that; “In a very short period of time we have seen the changing dynamic within Scottish Football where alternative community  models have emerged that have offered clubs and fans a vision for a longer term sustainable future with the people who love the clubs at the heart of that debate.

“We fully accept that there is still a place for a range of business models and we do believe that a deeper community involvement can attract new people to the game; which we have seen as Stirling Albion, Dunfermline Athletic, Motherwell and Heart of Midlothian where successful business people and football supporters working together have seen new investment driving community benefit.

“In our dialogue with the Scottish Government we will push for these proposals to be developed as soon as possible. We also look forward to hosting a range of forums across the country where we can discuss and debate these implications with both clubs and fans”

We have also confirmed our attendance at the annual Fans Europe Conference in Belfast on 3rd and 4th of July, the first Scottish representation at the event, and the move from the Scottish Government will be discussed at that forum.

Community Ownership is something the SFSA will always champion, given that football fans will largely always have their clubs best interests at heart, whereas some benefactors see only profits and margins.

As a result we will do our very best to help everyone involved better understand the process and the many advantages which Fan Ownership can bring to every club.

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