As the Co-operative Party announces a campaign to bring football fans the 'right to buy' a failing club, Co-operative News examines why Germany has been highlighted as the blueprint for fans' engagement in the sport . . .
In Germany football clubs abide by the principle of “50+1 ownership”, which means that fans own at least 51 per cent of the club and no one group or investor can take control of the club.
The rule enables fans to invest in their clubs, while preventing foreign investors from taking over. Fans show a higher level of commitment to the club, while investors can decide to sell the club at any time.
Bundesliga and Champions League winners, Bayern Munich is run as a private company that is 84 per cent owned by its 130,000 fans.
This model enables supporters to be involved as major stakeholders and to have a real say in the way in which the club is run.
Due to this rule, German football clubs are also more likely to build a real connection with their fans and get more involved in the local communities.
Debt is also banned in Bundesliga. By contrast, top Premier League clubs are faced with a debt burden — Manchester United (£366m), Chelsea (£878m), Liverpool (£87m) and Arsenal (£98m). Because a high percentage of their revenue comes from broadcasting the games, rather than ticketing, some Premier League clubs are less inclined to encourage more supporters to come to the game by lowering ticket prices.
This is not the case in Germany, where football clubs get only 30 per cent of their revenue from broadcast. Furthermore, according to police data, Manchester United’s team has not have a single crowd over 70,000. Last season, all of Bayern Munich’s games sold out, meaning that every single game played on Alianz Arena stadium was in front of a full house.
With fans being the ones actually running the club, ticket prices are more affordable. Bundesliga fans pay on average £207 for a season ticket, as opposed to £468 in the Premier League. Bayern Munich fans can pay as little as £12 for a game and £104 for a season ticket. This explains why Bayern Munich had sold out 16 out of their 17 league home games for the 2013-2014 season before the new campaign had even started.