Holyrood backs Greens’ Johnstone on fans’ right to buy clubs

Green MSP Alison Johnstone today successfully moved a package of amendments to the Community Empowerment Bill to bring in a fans’ right to buy their football clubs at any time.

The amendments were signed by Labour MSP Ken Macintosh, and were backed by all members of the Local Government and Community Committee. The campaign has also been backed by Scotland’s leading anti-sectarianism charity Nil By Mouth, by Supporters Direct, and by others in the supporter ownership movement.

In the Committee meeting the Minister pledged support for a legislative approach to the problems of Scottish football, and Stage 3 is now expected to see changes and refinements to these proposals before Parliament finally approves the Bill. This decision is overwhelmingly popular, according to the results of a Survation poll commissioned by Green MSPs, where 72% of those expressing a view supported a fans’ right to buy their local club for a market value at any point (2).

AJ in chamber for webAlison Johnstone MSP, who lodged the amendments, said:

“This is an extraordinary day for the future of Scottish football. We know how badly the game has been struggling, from Gretna to Hearts and Rangers, and we know fan ownership works. It’s great that Parliament has today united around the principle of a responsible fans’ right to buy their clubs. Once this bill passes at Stage 3, fans across the country will have nothing to fear from irresponsible owners like those who have undermined so many clubs. We know there are plenty of good private owners of clubs, and this will not require fans to buy them out, but when they move on, fans will be in the right place to take over if they wish.

“I am grateful to the members of the committee for seizing this opportunity to put fans first, and in particular to Ken Macintosh MSP, who co-signed these amendments and spoke powerfully in favour of them at Committee. We asked fans what they wanted, and they asked us for the tools to do the job and run their clubs responsibly for the long term. Today Holyrood has lived up to their aspirations.”

Dave Scott, campaign director for Nil By Mouth, said:

“We welcome such strong cross party support for Alison’s proposals for greater fan control and ownership of their clubs, and feel that this could be an exciting opportunity for the silent majority of fans to find their voice and use their increased position to bring about the real changes required to bring the Scottish game into the 21st century.”