Labour’s Proposals For Fan Ownership – Are They Credible?

The Labour Party’s commitment to legislate for partial fan ownership published today by Clive Efford, Shadow Sport Minister, is admirable for its intent but worryingly short on detail says Mike Dyer, Director of Portsmouth law firm Verisona Law .

Dyer said that “there is a tendency to think of Football Clubs as being somehow different from any other business organisation.” In many respects, perhaps they are, but the underlying fact is that they are companies and as such bound by Company Law in the UK.

The proposals do not seem to address the fact that fundamental changes would be required to the Companies Act 2006 surrounding (in particular) Shareholder rights.

For example, the proposed right for a Supporters Trust to appoint and remove Directors whilst only being a 10% Shareholder represents a significant departure from the present legal position.  As the law currently stands, a Shareholder with only 10% of issued shares would not have such a right unless there is a Shareholders Agreement in place (a document setting out various terms between Shareholders and regulating the voting rights on certain issues).

Without such an Agreement, a 10% Shareholder will be unable to pass the necessary resolutions to give effect to this “right” without new Company Law legislation.

I sincerely hope this proposal is not just a poorly considered populist vote catcher – but if it is to be treated as credible then significant further detail of the proposal is needed.

Mike Dyer

Director, Verisona Law

What Links….

Question: What links Paul Clark, Trevor Birch, Bob Young and Harvey Madden?

Clue: From a club and fans’ point of view these are the names of the men you hope will never be associated with your football club any time soon.

Answer: Unfortunately for Rangers (Paul Clark), Portsmouth (Trevor Birch), Port Vale (Bob Young) and Darlington (Harvey Madden) these are the administrators who have been drafted in to sort out the mess of these mis-managed clubs.

RangersYes, these are the latest names that are making more headlines than the players on the pitch at these clubs. No Roy of the Rovers last minute equaliser in this story.

No longer are their names the preserve of dusty old accountancy journals; these guys are at the forefront. Football’s bean counters are de rigueur these days but how long will this unwelcome fashion last?

For the sake of the game, we hope it’s not long!

Why Sky will be winners even if the pubs win

Glasses are being raised across the land after the European Court of Justice released an interim statement that backed English pubs which continue to show 3pm kick offs broadcast from foreign satellites.
But, a note of warning before the warm beer is accompanied by champagne. If this is the final decision, it will deal a bitter cash blow to UK football at all levels and will allow Sky to become far more powerful than it is now – and here’s why.
The interim statement says that rights should not be sold on a nation-by-nation basis, but on a pan European basis.
So, only one set of Premier League rights will be available for the whole of Europe. The same will be applied to every league in the Union.
If that happens, it is safe to say only the biggest TV companies will be able to afford pan-European Prem League rights. And, all one broadcaster would have to do is put all their cash into buying rights for the three top leagues (Prem, La Liga and Serie A) and they would have enough football to fill their network – leaving deals with smaller leagues like the Football League, SPL and Dutch leagues of less interest and dumped, or sold off at a far lower price.
That would then leave one dominant network with Grade A rights which people will want to watch, and leaves very little chance of a rival making money from what’s left.
In this world, there are only really three TV networks who could pull off a mega-deal like this. ESPN, Canal Plus or Sky. In the current set-up of European TV, you have to say Sky’s presence in UK, Italy and Germany puts it in the driving seat.
So, even if they lose this case – it opens up a whole new market for them throughout Europe.
And then we come to the holy grail of 3pm kick offs. Will people really fill the terraces of smaller League clubs if they know they can watch a top flight European game from the comfort of a pub or their home, instead of freezing in the away end?
So Karen Murphy and her customers in Portsmouth may have the champers out now – but the change she is proposing could leave a bitter taste in all our mouths. Especially hers – as she could be forced to take out a subscription with Sky Sports Europe soon!