At 5pm this evening a unique plan to try and take control of Liverpool FC by the fans was launched. Within 10 minutes the website had crashed due to massive interest worldwide.
Below is some of the text taken from the site before it crashed.
Why should Liverpool Football Club become a source of profit for anyone?
We propose a model of ownership similar to that at Barcelona. This club is owned by their ‘members’. Over 100,000 fans have bought single ‘member’ shares, which entitle them to elect a Board who will run the club until the next election. At Barcelona it is once every four years.
That way, no one can ever buy the club. Its structure makes its sale to the next sporting conglomerate that fancies a Premier League football club a legal impossibility.
The shares can never be sold; the club can never be sold.
Lets stop Liverpool Football Club becoming a trinket any rich man might like to wear around his neck. This club is close to the hearts of millions of people all over the world.
How much will it cost?
We estimate that a sum of £5,000 each will be enough. We need 100,000 members. 100,000 x £5,000 = £500 million
That should buy the club and go a long way towards building a new stadium.
How does it work?
No one can own more than one ‘member share’ and, apart from the initial purchase, these ‘member shares’ cannot normally be sold on. If you buy a ‘member’ share: No one will ever own more of Liverpool FC than you do, and you will be able to take part in any election to decide who runs Liverpool FC.
It’s one member, one vote. It’s democratic, it’s fair, and it protects Liverpool FC from becoming the target of corporate buyers ever again.
What more could you ever do for your club?
- Secure ownership in law
- Debt free
- Real involvement
Sounds good, what do I do now?
If you want to be a part of this, and are interested in hearing more, simply use the ‘Your feedback’ link at the bottom of the page, or click ‘Count me in!’ above to add your name to the list. Once we get an idea of the scale of interest in this idea, we’ll know whether it’s a real possibility. If you want to be a part of the ongoing history of Liverpool FC, now’s your chance.
Isn’t this a pipe dream? You’ve no chance have you?
It’s no pipe dream; its do-able. Liverpool Football Club has millions of fans across the world. Most of them will have been worrying about what has been happening to our Club lately. And they’ll be realising that life as a Liverpool fan could get much more expensive. There may be no plans yet, but ticket prices may have to be steeply hyped in years to come to help repay debts. We’ve seen what’s happened already to season ticket holders at Man Utd. You have to commit IN ADVANCE to buy all home Cup games – without even knowing how many games that will be! It includes all League cup; FA and Champs League home games…. Say ten in total on average. That’s an extra £400 – £500 to add to the price of your season ticket at Old Trafford.
What will happen at Liverpool FC when the debts bite (and we have seen more and more debt secured on the Club’s equity)? There is around £180m of debt secured in Kop Holdings Ltd. and no answer to the question: Who will repay it when it falls due in a few years time?
Our guess is that fans will bare the brunt in the end, not just in Liverpool but all round the world as the Club ‘sweats’ every asset. So instead of us paying off the millionaire owners’ debts, why don’t we just buy it ourselves instead? Why would anyone want to pay off someone else’s debts?
Are you really going to get 100,000 people to sign up in this short a space of time?
We took nearly 50,000 fans to Istanbul – Athens too. In reality, it cost most of us between £1,000 and £2,000 to make the trip; more if we took our partners & kids along. Liverpool fans have always turned out when the Club needed them. They find the money somehow, even at short notice. And remember, there are literally millions of us round the world who really care about LFC.
Yes, but £5,000 is a lot of money. Won’t many Liverpool fans be effectively priced out of something they’d love to take part in?
Take your point. We don’t want to see any Liverpool fan excluded. We will seek to provide opportunities for groups of fans to purchase one ‘member share’ (carrying one vote) between them, providing they can nominate one individual to represent them.
Why shouldn’t I just wait and see what happens, without putting up any money?
You could miss out badly. The list will close. Also we will propose giving the first 20,000 people to respond special staus and possibly enhanced advantages for ticket purchase. Those who commit first deserve some reward for their enthusiasm.
Modern sports clubs can’t be run like this, can they?
Why not? Many people know that Barcelona and Real Madrid are owned by their fans. So are German clubs, apart from Bayer Leverkusen. In fact, teams owned by their fans like this have won the European Cup 6 times since it became the Champions League in 1992. Even in USA, the NFL Green Bay Packers are run by a not-for-profit company; they’ve won the Superbowl 3 times despite having by far the smallest population of any NFL team.
That’s fine, but in Britain, especially if you need a new stadium, you need a sugar-daddy. That’s the reality, isn’t it?
No. Look at Arsenal. They’ve no sugar-daddy. The club costed up its plans, secured loans and convinced people to lend to them at a fixed-rate. The Banks trust the club’s finances will be well-run and that fans will continue to watch the club. If we could show how much fans of this club care, and how they’re prepared to back their faith with hard cash, then everything changes.
We don’t need a sugar daddy – we ARE the sugar daddy – because most of the money comes from us in the end anyway.
How do we get investment in the future or cash to buy players?
If we have a well run, debt free Club to start with, there will be money to buy players (how much do you think is spent servicing the Club’s debts?). Also the elected Board may wish to raise money (as any business must sometimes). At Barca, very rich individuals stand for election with promises of further investment. But it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ any part of Club.
But surely this way of running things ‘mutually’ belongs to the past?
The Co-operative group, with shops, a bank, insurance and undertakers is run like this. It’s got a turnover of £8 billion a year, and buries 1 in 4 of us! It is also the biggest farmer in the country and the biggest retail co-operative in the world. It‘s owned by over 2 million customers, all owning one share.
What if we don’t get the £500m?
Lets say we only get £100m – the equivalent of 20,000 fans signing up. At that point we would ask the 20,000 ‘members’ what they want to do. Some of us might want – as a group (Fans’ Trust) – to buy a significant portion of the club’s shares. Certainly, at that point, any individual member who wanted the money returned would be entitled to it.
Can I sell my share later on? What if I need the money back in a rush?
The simple answer to the first question is no. There will be no ordinary ‘trading’ in individual shares – no profit can be made from selling them – (otherwise the Club would be permanently ‘up for sale’ – just like Man Utd was). However, if a member can find someone who does not already own a member share, then a transfer
at the original price may be arranged through the elected Board.
Nobody will be asked to part with a penny until a detailed Constitution is presented in which all necessary details are made plain.
How do we know we’ve hit the target?
We will have a partner Bank where the monies will be kept until we reach the target. We will ask the two Bishops of Liverpool to act as verifiers for us – they’ll see the bank accounts, have access to all the books and be able to speak to the bank to certify that it’s all there. We will also ask the Liverpool City Council Treasurer to act as a scrutineer.
So, if we don’t make the targets and we all take our money back, what about the interest the money has earned?
We’ll donate it to a Charity of your choice, less any deductions for verifiable expenses incurred in running the ‘Share Liverpool FC’ operation (website server charges; legal costs to draw up a Constitution etc.).
What will we get to vote on?
Members will elect the Board of Directors for Liverpool FC, for a term to be decided by you. (Barcelona elect their President every four years.) After an Election, just like the Government, the Board will have executive control of the Club, but they may want an elected ‘Fans’ Council’ to advise them. The Board will know that – in a few years time – they will be judged on their performance by the owners – YOU.
Will we get a vote on the team or the manager?
No. The elected Board has responsibility for running the Club and will employ professional administrators and managers to deliver the targets it sets.
Will members be guaranteed a ticket if they want one?
With 100,000 members? You’re kidding!
Has anyone ever done this in UK before?
No, though there have been many formations of ‘Fan Trusts’ at professional clubs in the past decade– and three Football League Clubs are run by a majority shareholder Fans’ Trusts. Liverpool would be the pioneers in completing a ‘members’ buy-out.
What we propose would probably starta ‘revolution’ in Club ownership structures in UK. But then, Liverpool fans have often been at the vanguard of changing the culture of football.
We have a question to ask you!
We want this to be a genuine fans’ initiative and we know something about the costs of professional advice. Are you in a senior position in banking; accountancy; corporate finance etc. ?
Please contact us using the form below if you think you could provide voluntary assistance to this project.
If we go ahead with this, it has to be done properly and we will rely on Cobbetts and our other advisers to guide us towards a structure which is legally sound. This will mean detailed work in putting together a proposition and a constitutional framework which is clear and robust so that anyone who becomes a member will know exactly what is involved. At this stage, before this work is done, we confine ourselves to setting out in broad terms what we want to achieve.
In legal terms, Liverpool Football Club would have an ownership structure similar to that of Barcelona and to co-operatives in the UK and would be run on the principles used in modern mutuals.
The key principles are:
- That membership and elections work on a ‘one member, one vote’ basis
- That powers and responsibilities are divided in a clear and effective way between elected representatives and skilled and experienced executives.
- That elected representatives do not manage the club or pick the team, but ensure it is run properly and efficiently
- That the organisation plays a constructive role in the community
There will be predator protection to stop the mutual being taken over or dismantled, and at the start, members will be asked to approve a transitional board for the new mutual LFC on joining, and the first election of a Board will be held within the first year.
“The Barcelona model, to me, is how a football club should be run. They are one of the most pre-eminent names in world football, yet the club is owned by its supporters on a one-member, one-vote basis and they control it. That strengthens it because it’s never subject to the whim of one person; it’s a collective endeavour. English football should see that as a big strength. I’d love to see if we could grow the Barcelona model here.” (Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport)
Forum discussion on the subject is here