The Galway United Friends Co-operative hopes to achieve the vision of a community owned and sustainable run Galway United Football Club. It is not alone in this idea. Not only in Ireland, but across Europe, fan ownership is commonplace. If you want to be part of the journey consider joining the Galway United Friends co-op.
In Europe, co-operative and mutual ownership is commonplace, with almost a quarter of the top-flight clubs in UEFA’s 53 member countries being owned and run this way. When Bayern Munich play in the Champions League final in 10 days’ time, they will make it the 14th final in the past 21 years to feature a fan-owned and run club.
(The Guardian, Dave Boyle, 9 May 2012)
The following is an example of some of the clubs and models in Europe.
All German football clubs, except for some historic works teams are required to have at least 51% member ownership. In 2008 The German Football League (DFL) voted to maintain the 50+1% rule for German Clubs. Speaking at this occasion, the DFL president Dr Reinhard Rauball said
The Bundesliga thrives on its stability and balance. The protection of the competition must be maintained. […] The decision we have taken should help maintain this.
Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s fan-members (socios) have owned and operated the clubs since their inception. Other such clubs in the top flight of Spanish football that have membership ownership are Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna. It is not possible to purchase shares in the clubs, but only membership. The members form an assembly of delegates which is the highest governing body of the club. As an example Barcelona had about 170,000 members in 2010.
Sweden & Turkey
In both Sweden and Turkey all football clubs are entirely fan owned as No other form of club ownership is allowed.
In the United Kingdom (UK), most fan-ownership revolves around the idea of a trust operated under their industrial and provident societies legislation. Much of the work done to establish a level of fan ownership has been achieved by the Supporters Direct umbrella body. They have since their establishment in 2000 helped to found about 170 co-operatives that have some level of ownership of their clubs. These range from Dundee FC (100% fan owned), Swansea City (20% and an elected director), and Doncaster Rovers (director on the club board).
And it not only football clubs…
In the United States the Green Bay Packers American Football team are entirely owned by the community.