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Supporters able to bid for insolvent football clubs following government review

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Football supporters will be able to bid for their clubs in insolvency situations with the Premier League pledging £1m (US$1.4m, €1.3m) to provide support on ownership issues.

Following the publication of the Government Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has moved to remove barriers to supporter ownership through a number of measures.

If a Premier League, Football League or National League club becomes insolvent, administrators are now required to meet with supporters trusts, with a credible trust given the opportunity to bid for the club. Funding from the Premier League, which will be set aside for the next three years via the Fans Fund, will be used to develop a database of suitable professional experts willing to advise on supporters’ bids.

The government will also investigate the benefit of offering Social Investment Tax Relief for supporters trusts as a tax-efficient way for them to make a bid.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters Federation (FSF), said the report was a “step in the right direction”.

“All too often, crucial club decisions have been taken over the heads of fans, with the real financial and strategic positions of the clubs shrouded in mystery,” he added. “Fans aren’t only concerned with facilities and team performance; we also care deeply about ownership, governance and strategic direction of the clubs we support.”

In addition, the football authorities have agreed to keep the Owners and Directors Test under constant review, taking account of feedback from supporter organisations. Clubs will also have to meet with a representative group of supporters at least twice a year.

“Supporters are the lifeblood of the clubs they support but over time there has been a growing disconnect between them and those that run their clubs,” said sports minister Tracey Crouch. “So it was right that the government set up this group and brought the football authorities and supporters together to see what more can be done for clubs to engage with fans.”

The Premier League, Football League, National League and Football Association boards have all endorsed the report alongside FSF and Supporters Direct. The FA will assess how to best engage with representative support groups as part of its current review process.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “Football has changed significantly in recent years with the introduction of financial regulations and sustainability criteria which have helped ensure that clubs at all levels are run more sustainably than ever and are protected for their fans and communities.”

Joanna Manning-Cooper, independent chair of the Expert Working Group, added that the report offered “credible and sensible solutions” which would lead to the improvement of communication between clubs and fans.

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Football supporters will be able to bid for their clubs in insolvency situations with the Premier League pledging £1m (US$1.4m, €1.3m) to provide support on ownership issues.
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Sports minister Tracey Crouch said the report measures would counter the 'growing disconnect' between supporters and clubs
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