Source: The Guardian
* The Guardian, Saturday 13 February 2010
English football's endemic financial crisis claimed another bouffant hairdo yesterday as Sven-Göran Eriksson moved on from Notts County. "The problem with this club is that it has been living beyond its means," said Ray Trew, one of the new investors. Notts County, like Portsmouth and Cardiff City, are in trouble with the taxman, who comes low on cash-strapped clubs' payment priorities. Time to think again about football finances. It may be impossible to divorce success on the pitch from money in the bank, but that shouldn't mean it's impossible to devise a sustainable financial settlement. In the end, supporter-owned clubs would be the answer. Some of the great Spanish sides – Barcelona, Real Madrid – belong to their fans, hundreds of thousands of them. Defenders of the English system point out that they can only afford it because they sell TV rights individually rather than sharing out the cash across the league. But look at the German example. Last November, the clubs in the Bundesliga, their premier league, again backed the rule that fans own a majority of shares. They claim it guarantees stability, continuity and proximity to the supporters. In practice it really does seem to mean accessible ticket prices go hand in hand with excellence in depth. Here, brave pioneers like FC United of Manchester and AFC Wimbledon fight to break through the daunting cost barrier. They need a limit on corporate investment if they're to succeed. A supporter on every board would be a start.