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For fifteen years now, media moguls, TV corporations and, latterly, self-interested millionaires and billionaires have ploughed cash into English football (or soccer, if you prefer), changing the upper echelons of the game beyond all recognition.

Top Premiership clubs report annual profits running into tens of millions of pounds. Players take home weekly pay checks that exceed the average annual salary in the UK – with the top players getting four or fives times that.

And the British Government mops up too, taking an estimated £4.3 billion (yes, that’s right, £4.3 billion) in tax from the sport every year.

So, you’d think, with all this money flying around, everyone would be a winner? Well, no. Unfortunately not.

Whilst blank chequebooks are being waved at Premiership clubs by investors from the US, Thailand, Russia and even Iceland, only a fraction of this money trickles down to the lower leagues. Whilst the top clubs have gone from strength to strength, the clubs in the lower leagues are, if anything, slightly worse off than they were 15 years ago.

Not a season goes by without half a dozen smaller clubs having to be dragged back from the brink of bankruptcy by a last-minute deal. This season is no exception with Coventry City & Luton Town already having accepted the 10-point penalty that comes with going into administration. Bournemouth are rumoured to be close to doing the same, just as Leeds United and Boston United recover from the same experience last season. These clubs are some of many that hover dangerously close to going out of business completely – tragic endings to centuries of football tradition.

The simple fact is that the commercial aspects of lower league football in England no longer add up. Spiraling costs, ridiculous player salaries, agent fees and fierce competition from an ever-increasing number of televised games which serve to reduce gate receipts are all making the smaller clubs tighten their belts season after season. No wonder some clubs are reporting weekly losses running into thousands of pounds.รู้จักกับของสะสม

A bleak picture that is repeated at clubs up and down the country. But, amidst all the financial gloom, there are a few tales of optimism that football fans everywhere cling onto for comfort. Indeed, it is the fans themselves that are often the forgotten but essential ingredient to any football club’s success, something some of the Premiership clubs could do well with remembering.

Increasingly it is the fans and, more specifically, supporters groups that are helping and orchestrating the survival of the smaller clubs in professional football.

Over 60 English football clubs are now supported financially in one way or another by a supporters trust. Some teams, such as Exeter City, only exist today because they were saved from being dissolved when supporters groups invested their own hard-earned money into their clubs.

The idea of supporter’s trusts is not new. In the early 1900s, clubs such as Leicester City invited local residents to raise a ‘working man’s subscription’ to enable the clubs to attract better players, but it’s only really in the past 20 years that the concept has really been considered as a viable means of financially stabilizing a football club.

Such has been the emergence of supporters groups, that in 2006, the then UK Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, petitioned UEFA to consider the benefits of fan ownership of football clubs, not only in the UK but across Europe. Top of the list of considerations was the idea that Supporters Trusts could be used to supplement or even take full ownership of football clubs. With Mr. Caborn known to be a fan of Supporters Direct, the company that has orchestrated the creation of many of the trusts already in place, the likelihood is that more trusts will be formed over the coming years.

 

 

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