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Men’s football Scottish Labour: Football belongs to the fans — not to a cartel of billionaires at the top

SCOTTISH Labour are backing fan ownership in Scotland as well as reforming football as the continued fight against the European Super League ramps up.

The heavily scrutinised ESL would see 12 clubs “compete” in a league with no relegation. A further three clubs will form the core group while five additional clubs would then be invited on an annual basis to participate in a 20-team competition.

Six English Premier League teams have signed up to take part, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.

But with English supporters protesting against the move, Scottish MPs are using the proposed breakaway as the perfect opportunity to once again raise the prospect of fan-owned clubs.

Ahead of Labour’s manifesto launch tomorrow, shadow secretary of state for Scotland Ian Murray said that “Labour is committed to democratising and energising the game in Scotland.”

“Football belongs to the fans — not to a cartel of billionaires at the top,” said Mr Murray.

“Scottish Labour is determined to reinvigorate the game in Scotland from grassroots to national team by supporting fan ownership of clubs and reform of the game at all levels in Scotland.

“Clubs are at the heart of communities across Scotland, and many have been hit hard by the pandemic. That’s why Labour is committed to democratising and energising the game in Scotland.

“Labour is back on the pitch, but too many football fans feel stuck on the sidelines.

“That’s why Labour is dedicated to supporting the future of the game in Scotland and putting fans in control, from the dugout to the directors’ box from grassroots to the governance of the game.”

Scottish Labour’s pledge also has backing from the Scottish Green Party, who echoed the call for fan ownership of Scottish teams, where various clubs are now owned by supporters, including Motherwell FC, Clydebank and Stirling Albion.

Scottish Greens spokesperson on sports Alison Johnstone said: “The sums of money involved in the European Super League are absolutely eye-watering.

“Its formation shows what happens when profits and greed are allowed to dominate football. As the famous quote says, football is nothing without the fans, and it is no wonder that so many are opposed to this move.

“In Scotland we were successful in ensuring that fan ownership has been pushed up the agenda. It is a model that has worked around the world, and something that is badly needed to stop the sort of moves we are seeing now.

“Football clubs are community assets and should be in the hands of those who care most about them. With a greater use of fan ownership, and more fan representation, we can ensure that communities are at the heart of our teams and our national sport.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the football authorities that no action by the government is off the table in seeking to stop the Super League, the same day the other 14 Premier League clubs “unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.”

In a statement seen by the Star, Football Supporters Association chief executive Kevin Miles warned the ESL that “supporters will do everything in our power” to stop the competition from being anything more than a awful PR pipe-dream.

“The greedy owners of some of our most historic football clubs have done nothing but unite fans throughout the pyramid, players, pundits, clubs, politicians and the government, in opposition to their plans to hoard power and wealth,” said Miles. “There must be no more appeasement of these vultures.

“Today the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) and some of our member organisations met with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and secretary of state Oliver Dowden to make clear the existential crisis facing football and the overwhelming support from fans for political action.

“The PM’s response was very positive as he committed to legislative action, if necessary, to support the football authorities.

“In addition he referred to yesterday’s announcement of the much-anticipated fan-led review into football governance, confirming that it would have a far-reaching remit.

“The FSA looks forward to working with the government and all political parties in Westminster. As well as meeting the PM we have also met today with the all-party parliamentary group for football supporters and, separately, Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.

“Supporters will do everything in our power to stop the European Super League.”

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