Editor’s Pick: Fan-owned football club – Need of the hour

Fan owned football clubs will help in the development of players and also satisfy the ambition of fans in India.

Football is one of the most liked sports across the world. Millions of people are engaged with the universal game. However, the future of football in India is at stake due to private ownership of the clubs. The intervention of private ownership in football has made the game more about money rather than the passion of fans.

The privatization of football clubs in India is also declining the quality of the game. Professional private clubs such as FC Cochin, Viva Kerala, Bharath FC, and Pune FC have been impacted badly on the field. Currently, India is ranked 109 in the FIFA world rankings, further highlighting the lack of quality in India.

Despite being the second most followed sport in the country, football fails to attract fans for domestic games. Football is driven by passion and esteem of fans rather than greedy bussinessmen. It is not a case of having just one of those qualities.

Big European clubs such as Real Madrid FC, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund are all owned by fans. Most of the football clubs in Spain and Argentina are owned by the fans. It is mandatory in Germany that a minimum of 51% of the shares of a football club must be with its fans. India also has the potential to succeed in football with the introduction of fans owned clubs at a larger scale.

Ideally, a club needs great financial stability, great opposition teams, great fans, sponsor interest, and great opportunities irrespective of the profit earned business. All of that can be achieved by investment, endorsement, prize money, gate collection, having quality players in the team, more matches and tournaments, and top-class management personnel. All these boxes are generally ticked off at most fan-owned clubs across the globe.

India can learn from the classic structure of the UK, where over 200 fan-owned football clubs are functioning. It is an umbrella organization set up originally by the British Government to provide support and assistance for its members. The organization focuses on getting a greater level of accountability and delivering democratic representation within football. Supporters Direct also works in other sports. It is also funded by UEFA to work in football across Europe.

Features and advantages of fan-owned cooperative sports club

Having a fan-owned cooperative sports clubs comes with its own advantages. The success of the club is prioritized heavily by fan-owned clubs rather than filling their own pockets. The target is to make the club sustainable and invest money earned by the club for its progress rather than filling the pocket of other organizations.

In this model, there can be at least one club in every district and one mother club at the state level. Also, the fans or locals will invest in the club. Such a model can create direct employment in its initial years of functioning. While the club engages in other sports, the employment will be increased proportionately. Also, a football match between two cooperative sports clubs will create 1,500+ temporary jobs.

Fan owned clubs also benefits to the government

The government can create employment opportunities without spending any money. Moreover, the cooperative or fan-owned clubs will provide revenue to the government by taking the existing government-owned sports facilities on lease. The government does not need to spend money on the maintenance of the sports infrastructure.

The government has to make a new policy to promote these fan-owned clubs in India and must ensure hassle-free registration. Asia’s first fans-owned cooperative sports society applied for registration in March 2016, but it is yet to be registered.

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