Would you pay 5,000 pounds for a share in Liverpool?

January 31, 2008

From the cold-blooded capitalism of the leveraged buy-out to a socialist utopia of a club owned by its fans in one fell swoop.

That will be the result if a group of influential Liverpool supporters succeed in getting 100,000 fans of the club to raise 500 million pounds in a “Barcelona style” member share scheme.

England is abuzz with reports that the Share Liverpool FC Group plan to buy out American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who recently completed a 350 million pounds re-financing of the deal that brought them ownership of the club last year.

Whether the group stands a chance of raising the money, and whether the Americans would have the slightest interest in selling up, are questions that will take a while to get answered.

As Tom Dunmore notes at the always excellent Pitchinvasion.net, the people behind the bid are “serious and knowledgeable”. They include Rogan Taylor, a well known Liverpool academic and founder of the Football Supporters’ Association.

The idea is nothing new. Barcelona, Real Madrid and other clubs in Spain have always run on this model, with members electing the president every few years and owning a stake in the club. Fan-owned clubs are also common in Germany. Still, many will wonder why such a scheme was not launched before Hicks and Gillett bought the club.

We’d like your views on whether this would be a good idea for Liverpool. Are fans just being overly optimistic if they think they can buy out the Americans? Isn’t 5,000 pounds too risky an investment for fans to get into? Or is it time a big English club showed there’s another way to go?

I’ve got a feeling Bill Shankly might have been attracted to the idea anyway.

“The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards,” he once famously said. “It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.”

UPDATE: The Web site supposdly has more details at http://www.shareliverpoolfc.co.uk/ but, interestingly, it seems to have collapsed under the strain.

Kevin Fylan


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

what’s 5,000 pounds? A quarter of a car. I know 2 or 3 Liverpool fans who would definitely invest if it meant they had some say in the running of the club…or even just to show off to their mates.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

As a professional cynic I cannot imagine that this has even the slimmest sliver of a chance of working. It’s a beautiful idea though. It would be nice to think that it might prompt Liverpool’s current owners to address the high level of fan disapproval.

Posted by Iain | Report as abusive

I would most definately invest my money, if it’s only going to cost me £5000.00 to have a say on how Liverpool F.C. is run that that price is an exceptionly fair deal.I’m sure 100,000 true Liverpool investors would love the chance to run the club the way it should be.However I feel the Dubai investment would be a far greater deal for Liverpool F.C. but only with a little comment in their contract saying that their ownership will be reviewed by the 100,000 liverpool supporters association every 2 years, then if they are not doing well the supporters will be able to buy the shares back. Still I guess that’s far to complicated?Anyway, who do I write the cheque out to?

Posted by Brett Towerton | Report as abusive

“Fan-owned clubs are also common in Germany.”I think except for Leverkusen and Wolfsburg that this is true for every single club in Germany. Though fan-owned is probably a bit misleading. You pay an annual fee to become a member of the club. A fee you are basically paying for the psychological value of the membership (another way of displaying your allegiance/identification to/with the club) and for a couple of privileges. A few democratic rights to vote for the board of people who run the club. In case of a club like Schalke you can also discuss the ticket prices for the next season. You get privilged treatment when it comes to ticket purchases and stuff like that. A much more elegant scheme compared to e.g. the habit of selling “Personal Seating Licenses” in US Sports.But apart from that I don’t profit from my membership, when the club rakes in huge amounts of money and profit. I can’t sell my membership for more money than I bought it.But that would be something, which would make this Liverpool ownership scheme interesting. If I understand this correctly, the 5000 pounds equal a small share of Liverpool FC. So I could see this as an investment, hoping that the new stadium and the billions of TV money pumped into the EPL over the next decades will elevate the worth of the club even further, meaning I can sell my share for a good profit ten years later.Why should only Glazers and Hickses get a chance of potentially benefiting from the EPL’s success?

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

They’re paying you too much, Mark.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Without a doubt you’ll find 100,000 fans who’ll pay £5000 each. I imagine you’d find a few fans that would come in for a much larger share. Former players, even some current players may each come in for £50,000 or even £100,000. That’s 10 or 20 shares out of 5,000.There will need to be a method in force for the plan not to back-fire. E.g. DIC coming in and putting in £250M for 50% of the share.. still a bargain for them, and getting a controlling interest.I agree that this idea could generate value in the future, the risk remains the need for additional funds to keep the club going as its building its stadium. Do the 100,000 fans have to chip in another £5000 in a year’s time?Still… with all the risks… I’d buy in for £5k in a heartbeat.Go Reds

Posted by Huss | Report as abusive

Seriously, though, I think the 5,000 pound price might just be in the sweet spot to tempt quite a few fans. You’d have a small but not infinitesimal stake in the club and it might be the sort of sum people would be prepared to risk.It’s a good point about how much good being a member actually does you, mind. My father-in-law is a member of Real Madrid and apart from voting in increasingly absurd elections every four years ago I’m not sure how much he gets out of it.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

[…] Reuters Soccer Blog thinks an idea that old socialist Bill Shankly would approve of — maybe it is communism, after […]

Posted by Pitch Invasion » Politics and Economics » Liverpool supporters want to buy…Liverpool | Report as abusive

I think in principle its a terrific idea. But full ownership by the fans has its flaws as well. You have to make sure they are “fit and proper” people to run a football club of such a magnitude.If they are organised properly such as board of directors which is balanced with people who love the club, the game and people who have a good business sense.But in a time when football is losing touch with the fans and dominated by money, the idea of fans having a greater say needs to be supported.UEFA president Michel Platini knows hope important this is. He wants to give the fans a seat at his organisation’s mtop table if they can organise themselves properly. Democracy at its best.

Posted by darren ennis | Report as abusive

five grand. that’s barely a week’s salary for the shlonkiest players in the side, so it might help put a few things in perspective. the notion is certainly appealing, but the comparison with spanish clubs who also get bailed out by the state whenever the doo-doo hits the fan seems optimistic. but perhaps i am ill-informed.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Oh, I just read the FAQ, there’s no selling individual shares for a profit planned, so it really is all about paying 5000 pounds for a few privileges.

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

As has been raised elsewhere today, where would the money come from for future transfers?The fans may be able to raise the goods to buy the club but then what? How many £5,000 contributions will be needed to raise the cash for another Torres style transfer bid?

Posted by Steve Wilson | Report as abusive

The idea is that a well run club generates enough money to fund transfers (they wouldn’t have to pay interest on debts, for example).As Jan says, at 5,000 quid for a few privileges it’s really just a badge of honour (and a bit of charity?) for the club’s well-off fans around the world. Real benefits? Somewhat nil…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

There is a lot of interest in Australia at the moment with Liverpool fans hoping to buy into the club.Judging from the reaction there will not be enough shares for the demand.

Posted by Carl Eaton | Report as abusive

When is the Share Liverpool FC Group web site opening.It was supposed to be 5:00pm 31/1/08

Posted by Carl Eaton | Report as abusive

I can guarantee that there will be more than100 000 crazy Liverpool fans willing to ‘throw away’ £5,000. I’m one of them.I do recognise the difficulties though and know that this is close to a utopian dream.But what the heck… if you never try, you never know. Money is sitting in my bank waiting to be donated hehe

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

Deffo,5k is a sum of money that at least 100,000people would be interested in . I would like to see rtk and the sons of shankly join in the debate and arrange a public meeting away from the ground and not on a match day , the manager and the team need us more than anything now its easy going to Barca,Istanbul,Athens and such places .Get behind the team !!!!!!!

Posted by kjn | Report as abusive

Yes, I will pay 5,000 pounds for my beloved teamI Will never let my team down in time of need

Posted by Riyo | Report as abusive

For those interested, the Web site, with plenty more details, has been up and running for a while at http://www.shareliverpoolfc.co.uk/One final thought: Couldn’t Robbie Fowler just put up the money himself?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

[…] comes after the high-profile Liverpool campaign to get 100,000 fans of the club to raise 500 million pounds in a “Barcelona style” member share […]

Posted by Should fans have the right to buy into their clubs? « Read NEWS | Report as abusive