white and black ball on white metal frame
Photo by Chaos Soccer Gear on Unsplash

The Co-operative Party know how vital football clubs are to their communities. As our national game, they bring people together from every background – united by a passion for their team. Despite this, over recent years the game has increasing felt more distant from the communities they were set up to serve. Even between the leagues, the vast wealth of the Premier League clubs has increased the gulf between those at the top and those further down the football pyramid.

 At the Co-operative Party we have long championed fan ownership in football. Without meaningful reform through fan ownership, clubs will continue to be mismanaged – putting the long-term survival of important community institutions at risk. In recent years, we have seen clubs across the UK enter deep crises – from Bury FC and Derby County to Bolton Wanders and Rangers – with the outcomes ranging from administration to liquidation. This has devastated the local communities and businesses which rely on these institutions. That’s why fan ownership – which provides real fans with a democratic stake in their club – is so important to the future survival and financial health of our football clubs.

This week has seen the launch of the new Fair Game Index – which provides an important tool in assessing the nation’s football clubs’ sustainability long-term. The Index assesses every club in the football league on their financial sustainability, good governance, equality standards and fan engagement. The aim of the Index is to have well-run clubs rewarded financially for upholding the values fans demand of their clubs, providing an incentive which could reduce the prevalence of unscrupulous owners and financial mismanagement in the future.

 If implemented by the proposed new Independent Football Regulator, the Fair Game Index will be an important step in the right direction for reform in football. By providing a fairer distribution of the giant television revenue generated by football – clubs can begin to prioritise better governance, financial sustainability, and fan involvement.

 The Co-operative Party want to see this help move football towards a new era of fan ownership. Only through developing fan ownership models can we ensure the long-term permanence of clubs as central pillars of their communities. As legendary manager Jock Stein famously said – “football without fans is nothing”.

 To read the full results of the Fair Game Index and find out how your club performed, click here.