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Is Corbyn right about Mike Ashley and Newcastle United?

Posted on October 8th, 2019 | 7 Comments |

Corbyn in Newcastle
Jeremy Corbyn with NUFC fan group representatives.
“Barcelona is not a business, it is a feeling. We are not owned by anybody, we are an association.” Sandro Rosell, President of FC Barcelona (owned by 180,000 fans).

In case it has escaped your attention, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn was recently in Newcastle with North East Labour MPs Chi Onwurah and Ian Lavery meeting NUFC fan groups and outlining his proposals to democratise football clubs in a similar manner to clubs in countries such as Spain and Germany.

The plans would include legislating to give supporters’ trusts the right to purchase shares in a club when it changed hands. Other parts of the proposal included ensuring that the Premier League invests 5% of its income from TV rights in the grassroots game and legislation to stop ticket-tout websites selling tickets at inflated prices, as well as improving access to stadiums for disabled people. The MP for Islington North also took several swipes at Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, whom he accused of “marginalising supporters.” A Labour ‘community organising unit’ is also currently advising Newcastle fans as they organise protests.

In a quote similar in spirit to that of Sandro Rosell above he also told the Toon fans:

“Football is more than just a game, it’s more than just a club, it’s an institution rooted in the social fabric of our communities. They’re too important to be left in the hands of bad owners who put their business interests ahead of everything else, marginalise their supporters and even rip them off.”

But is he right?

The huge and consistent success of European clubs which are owned or majority owned by their fans such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, or much smaller examples of success under fan ownnership here in England with clubs such as AFC Wimbledon would indicate that he has a good point. They are consistent, democratic, involved and not at the whim of an Oligarch or Sheikh who might get bored, displeased or no longer have a use with his or her investment.

On the other hand, successful fan owned clubs such as those mentioned above either started as members clubs and stayed that way, or at least have been operating that way for many years. What will be the upheaval caused if Corbyn’s proposals were started from scratch? I had a very civilsed debate on Twitter (a rare thing on there!) with an Everton fan who wasn’t so sure. He was (undertandably) concerned because now his team have at last found owners who can back the club financially to compete at the highest level, would they be frightened of by Corbyn’s proposals? I cannot answer that question and I don’t think that Corbyn can either, though I strongly suspect that the owners who would be most averse to it are the bad ones like Mike Ashley.

Big questions such as this (it’s a big question for football anyway) are seldom easy, but what do you think?

Labour’s proposals

· Legislate to give supporters trusts the power to appoint and remove at least two members of a club’s board of directors;

· Legislate to enable supporters trusts to purchase shares when clubs change hands;

· Review all aspects of football governance, including fan participation;

· Ensure that the Premier League invests 5 per cent of income from television rights into grassroots football;

· Enforce anti-bot legislation to crackdown on ticket-tout websites selling tickets at vastly inflated prices, and implement the recommendations of the Waterson Review;

· Ban zero-hours contracts and guarantee a Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all staff, including those working at football stadia on match days;

· Add women’s sporting events including the Women’s Football World up, to the list of key sporting events to be broadcast free-to-air;

· Improve access provision for disabled sports fans by ensuring that rapid improvements are made and by prioritising action to make clubs comply with obligations under the 2010 Equality Act.

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1063 articles on this blog.

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7 Responses

  1. Jeremy Corbyn sat anything he thinks will raise his popularity in the moment
    Just like he did when he promised an end to student loans when he knew he could not deliver

    He knows the dissatisfaction Newcastle fans have with Ashley so when in Newcastle ……….
    No one in the their right mind would think he gives a damm

  2. Could agree more

    The man is so shallow it’s unbelivable

    I am staunch Labour but this guy is a fraud and making us look like idiots

  3. “Just like he did when he promised an end to student loans when he knew he could not deliver ”

    Mike, he still is promising to end student loans. When I went to University, it was completely free and after I left I bought a house for a tiny fraction of what they cost today. The youth of today have my sympathies.

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