Special report: Supporter share schemes - can they deliver?

14 September 2021

Glasgow Rangers
Photo: Alamy Over the summer Glasgow Rangers raised £4.5 million from 5000 small investors in a share issue. The Rangers scheme, with investment parameters set between £500 and £100,000, gave supporters voting rights and the right to attend annual general meetings. Pictured are Rangers-fans in the sun watching their team play against Hearts at Ibrox.

Supporter share schemes are likely to feature heavily in English football over coming years, with a government review considering technical detail and Manchester United promising “the biggest fans ownership scheme in world sport.”

Technological advances have brought share schemes – previously the preserve of the biggest clubs and stock market listings – into the hands of even the smallest clubs.

Fintech CEO: “The ongoing costs are modest, and it provides the opportunity to transform a business financially, and also its relationship with its fans.”

Chairman who ran successful supporter share issue: “I think a lot a lot of it was driven by an emotional investment in what we're trying to achieve…There's a bit of a kind of halo effect, isn't there?”

James Corbett, Senior Correspondent corbett@offthepitch.com

In a tumultuous year for English football, which has seen a wide-ranging government review into the game’s governance, as well as conciliary action by clubs battered by the Super League backlash, one of the most lasting consequences may be a fundamental change in the ownership of clubs.

Supporter share schemes have been around since the 1980s, with supporters buying into share issues – usually in public listings of large football clubs.

But now clubs, large and small, are looking at alternative schemes to incorporate supporter shareholders into ownership structures.

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