Hearts were on the brink, there’s deep disquiet about investment at Hibs and the mighty Rangers are in trouble once again. All is far from well in the world of football finance, so can the Scottish Greens score with Fans First?
The proposals were set out in a consultation response to Holyrood’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee, which is about to start consideration of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill.
The submission also sets out plans by Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who is leading the Greens’ “Fans First” campaign, to broaden the 2003 Land Reform Act to include intangible community assets, not just land, in line with the general principles of the Scottish Government’s proposals. This would help communities to take on and run vital services like pubs, local cinemas, and even public transport.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said: “The time has come for the Scottish Parliament to give fans the power to take on their clubs when they come on the market or when they go into administration, or possibly even at any time for a fair price.
“We’ve always argued that fans will tend to be the best custodians of the clubs they love, and that the long-term security and strength of Scottish football requires a move towards the kind of community ownership common elsewhere.
“Scottish Ministers have set up a working group under Stephen Morrow to look at this issue, which we support. However, the group will report after this legislation has been considered, so it’s vital that this legislative opportunity shouldn’t be missed. The changes we’re proposing will still mean fans’ trusts will require Ministerial signoff, just as is already the case with land reform, so the only risk would be if Parliament rejects our proposals, leaving fans with no prospect of progress any time soon.
“So we’re encouraging all the trusts in Scotland to make their views known. Do they want to cross their fingers and rely on the current slow move to fan ownership, or do they want Parliament’s support to put them in the driving seat?”