Quick Reads

Top five fan-owned football clubs around the world

Aditya Paharia

May 11 2022

Fans have an important say in the decisions of these football clubs.

Recently Chelsea was taken over from one billionaire to another. Todd Boehly purchased Chelsea football club from Roman Abramovich for a whopping £4.5 billion. Newcastle United is another example where Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund has taken 80% of the club’s stake. The concept of billionaires owning football clubs is common in countries such as England. But the concept of fan-owned football clubs is very common in countries such as Germany and Spain. It’s high time people put this concept popular in other countries because ultimately fans are the biggest stakeholders in any football club.

Here are the top five fan-owned football clubs around the world:

5. AFC Wimbledon, England

AFC Wimbledon is an exception to the private ownership concept popular in England. The story started with Wimbledon FC’s move to Milton Keynes to become MK Dons in 2003. This did not go well among the fans and supporters who decided to stand their ground and create a new team. The team started off at the ninth division and now are playing in League One.

They actually defeated MK Dons in their debut season by 2-0. Currently they are owned by the Dons trust which have 74.1% stake and 83.6% voting rights in AFCW PLC.

4. Rangers, Scotland

Club 1872 is the official fan’s representative organisation that owns Rangers (Courtesy: The Scotsman)

Rangers isn’t entirely a fan-owned football club. The fans have an 11% stake in the club. In the form of fans, a supporters group named Club 1872 hold the stakes. They are the second-largest entity in the boardroom and hence have more than just a say in the club affairs.

Club 1872 came into the picture post fan frustration against their former management. The fans accumulated money and invested in the club. With time the power of fans has only grown and so has their spending power. Recently club owner Dave King announced an opportunity for Club 1872 to have 25% stake in the club.

3. Athletic Bilbao, Spain

Athletic Bilbao is one of only four sides from Spain’s top tier that is owned by the fans. Though Athletic is never the most aggressive or active in the modern transfer market, one cannot rule out the talents the club has produced. Players such as Unai Simon, Iker Muniain, and Inaki Williams are a few examples from the list. The club’s focus is to develop talents from the Basque region and sign players who have local roots. Their most recent success has come by winning the Spanish Super Cup in 2021 defeating FC Barcelona.

2. FC Barcelona, Spain

FC Barcelona is one of the most popular fan-owned football clubs in the world (Courtesy: FC Barcelona)

One of the most popular fan-owned football clubs is FC Barcelona. They are far wealthier and more supported than their league rivals from Basque. Individual members or fans vote in the club elections. The club is also powered by various supporter clubs. The only problem with FC Barcelona is the presidential elections.

Any person who wants to be the president must deposit 10% of the club’s net worth as deposit. This ultimately passes the power to the rich rather than the general fans. Current president Joan Laporta needed £108m before running the office.

1. Bayern Munich, Germany

There is a popular rule in Bundesliga, Germany, the 50+1 rule. This means that the fans will have a minimum of 51% ownership. Bayern Munich has gone a step ahead and kept this to 75%. One of the reasons why Bayern Munich has consistently kept themselves as giants of Europe is because of the fans.

Their main focus is on the team and not on profits unlike clubs owned by individuals or private entities. No extravaganza for Bayern, only the glitter of trophies is what fans have made them.

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