With the proliferation of fan-owned clubs and their continued success (with “success” usually defined as running a sustainable business while remaining under the fans’ control), there has been a lot of talk about fan ownership in the higher echelons of English and European football. In a time of billion-dollar TV deals for the Premier League, the tidal waves of corporate cash flowing through the Champions League, and the ungodly sums being paid in transfer fees by the continent’s mega-clubs, teams like AFC Wimbledon and FCUM have been touted as both a welcome respite from and a strong rebuttal to the current state of football.
Jim Keoghan, a writer and lifelong Evertonian, talks about this extensively in his book Punk Football: The Rise of Fan Ownership in English Football. The book offers a snapshot of fans who were convinced they could run their club better than the owners and, in many cases, did just that. Keoghan’s book places this emerging movement in the wider context of English football and investigates what makes fan ownership work and where it falls short.
I had the opportunity to talk with Keoghan about the fan ownership revolution, the current state of the English game, and what the implications of supporters with genuine stakes in their clubs could be for the future.