Time to own up at Toon...
FANS should be given the chance to own a stake in their club.
Whether it be £10, £100 or a £1,000, any self-respecting owner SHOULD sell supporters a shareholding, so they are invested in the team they love.
This week Newcastle United fans were given the chance to put hard cash into a fund that the club’s 15,000 strong Supporters Trust (NUST) hope will grow to £3million – which at current values would be enough for a one per cent slice.
The NUST want to be able to go to the next owners with cash to buy a stake, get a seat on the board, or simply be heard.
It’s a bold move, that has been three years in the planning by the likes of leading fans including the NUST’s chairman Greg Tomlinson and Alex Hurst.
The practicalities may not be to everyone’s liking. You’ll not get your money back if any bid is unsuccessful, with unnamed charities benefiting instead.
And you’ll not get a personal shareholding, no matter how much you give. That would be held by the Trust with decisions made by members’ vote.
But these campaigners have kicked off the debate. They say meaningful fan engagement with the current regime has been “hopeless”.
So it would be an open-goal win for someone to buy out Mike Ashley (above) and hand back a significant stake to United fans, with an elected seat on the board from the terraces.
Newcastle are nothing without these fans’ loyalty, through thin and thinner.
I’m not comfortable seeing fans parting with any hard-earned cash that they won’t get back, and won’t earn them a personal stake. Call it practical reality over emotional pull.
But I would be interested in the Trust setting up a virtual pledge register, where fans could vow to invest a sum of their choice, big or small, should new owners see a future which puts fans at the centre of rebuilding the club.