The Fan-Owned Football Clubs With Supporters Leading The Charge

In the modern world, football is big business. In fact, it’s richer now than it ever has been before, with clubs being owned by incredibly wealthy businessmen and the emergence of state-owned sides. For many fans, while the investment is welcome, it has left them feeling more detached from their clubs than ever before. This feeling doesn’t apply to all fans within the English football pyramid, though, particularly when looking at the fan-owned clubs that are putting the power in the hands of supporters.  


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Beloved Clubs 

While these same sets of fans will still get involved in Premier League debates online and indulge in some Champions League betting, perhaps by tipping Bayern’s Harry Kane to top the scoring charts in the competition at 3/1, their main passion is their beloved clubs. These clubs are owned by them and not the billionaires and global businesses that have purchased so many other teams within the English football pyramid.  





Also watching Match of the Day on a Saturday evening and reading useful football tips, the riches of the Premier League and the high-earning professionals is essentially another world to them. Perhaps mismanagement from previous owners has left them feeling disillusioned with where the game in this country is heading, while some fans have helped reform their club and climb up through the non-league system. Their stories vary, but around 40 clubs in the football pyramid are owned by fans at the time of writing, including three professional sides in the Football League.  


AFC Wimbledon’s rise has been remarkable  

The most successful fan-owned club, AFC Wimbledon’s journey up through the leagues has been well documented given the decision to relocate the original Wimbledon Football Club 67 miles from south London to Milton Keynes and be renamed as MK Dons. With Wombles supporters being powerless to stop the decision, they banded together to start again and build a club up from scratch that would represent the town of Wimbledon. Starting in the Combined Counties League, the Dons powered their way through the non-league system and into the Football League in just nine years since they held trials on Wimbledon Common as an entirely new club. Nowadays, the League Two team play back at home in Wimbledon in their very own Plough Lane stadium as The Dons Trust, the supporter’s trust that owns the club, continues to succeed.  





Exeter City are thriving in League One  

While the aforementioned AFC Wimbledon are adapting to life back in League Two, fan-owned Exeter City are now at the top of the fan-owned tree after shining in League One and showing how well-run they are under the guidance of the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust. Taking on relatively large clubs like Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth, the Grecians and their respected academy system that is responsible for Premier League talents like Ollie Watkins are now an established League One club. This comes after the supporters tackled extensive debts of £4.5million that left the club in the mire under previous owners, chairman John Russell and vice-chairman Mike Lewis, both of whom were arrested over financial irregularities.  


Some other well-run fan-owned clubs  

AFC Wimbledon and Exeter City are two clubs leading the way in the fan-ownership world, but they aren’t alone. League Two side Newport County deserve a mention after being reformed by 400 fans due to the old club going bust in 1989. FC United of Manchester are another fan-owned team that was established by disillusioned Red Devils who were against the Glazer family’s 2005 takeover of Manchester United. Even in the Scottish top-flight, St Mirren have been owned by their supporters since 2021. 


As these fan-powered clubs are demonstrating, an ownership model of this type can clearly work.  


Image: Mika Korhonen on Unsplash





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