How to buy your favourite football club
The beautiful game of football is enjoyed by more than 3.5 billion fans from all corners of the globe. Most of these fans would readily admit to having dreamt of buying their favorite club at one point.
Whether you are a childhood fan or an investor looking to spread your wings, owning a football club is an exciting proposition.
Despite this collective desire to own a football franchise, the vast majority of fans lack the information on how to go about it. And frankly speaking, they wouldn’t know where to begin.
For such fans, you have come to the right place. Read on to learn more about the business side of football and how you can buy your favorite club.
Ways of Ownership
Football clubs are separate legal entities. As such they are registered companies either private or public.
The ownership model of a club determines how to buy it. Ownership falls under three main categories:
1. Purchase of a Privately-Owned Football club
The rules governing the purchase of a privately-owned football club are a little different. For an investor to buy such a football club, the current owner or management must be willing to sell.
There is very little one can do if they say no. Once an agreement is reached, ownership is transferred. The amount agreed upon depends on outstanding debts and other liabilities.
For instance, Reading was sold in 2015 for the total sum of 1 euro. But the catch was the new owner would have to settle the 38 million debt the club owed. Other examples include the purchase of Manchester City in 2004 for $210 million while Chelsea FC was sold for $140 million.
Not everyone can afford the astronomical figures for top-flight teams. Smaller clubs in the lower divisions are regularly put up for sales. If you have your ears on the ground, you can go this route as they are often less costly.
2. Takeover Bid through Shareholding
A football club registered as a public company and is listed on the stock market follows standard takeover rules. Such clubs allow their fans to own a small piece of the club through Initial Public Offers (IPO).
Depending on the price per share, fans can acquire shares for as little as #10. A common example is Manchester United. The Glazier family who currently owns the club started by acquiring only a 3% stake in the club in 2003. They continued to buy more shares until they finally reached a 30% stake.
As per Takeover Laws in the UK, a shareholder that acquires 30% or more is mandated to launch a compulsory takeover bid. Just like the Glaziers family, you can start small, steadily acquiring shares until you finally attain complete ownership of the club.
For top premier league clubs, this could mean millions. The cost reduces down the league. Other popular football clubs listed as public companies include Arsenal, Juventus and AS Roma.
3. Membership of a Fan-Owned Club
Fan-owned football clubs technically cannot be bought. In this type of ownership, there is no one owner. Such a club is owned by shareholders who are the fans. All executive decisions about the club are deliberated by a board of directors elected by the fans.
The main advantage of this type of ownership is the commercial aspect of things can never overshadow the football. Each fan owns a small fraction of the club, but collectively you own the entire club.
This model is very rare in England. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the major examples of fan-owned successful football clubs. In Germany, the “50+1” rule requirement allows the clubs to retain majority stakes in the club.
Dreams Do Come True
Buying a football club is an expensive venture in all respects. The financial obligations are even higher for popular and successful teams.
While the majority of football fans can only dream of owning their favorite football club, some lucky people have managed to live this dream. They mostly include wealthy childhood fans, lottery winners who have bought their favourite clubs and investors looking to make money.
Whichever way you choose to do it, there is no better feeling than owning your favorite football club in real life. Think of all the changes you would make!