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Community Ownership. The way forward or a management doomed to failure?

As the Tranmere fans of this world will know. The clubs ownership has recently been in the spotlight regarding a takeover from the ‘Tranmere Rovers trust’ who are launching a scheme to raise funds for a purchase of the club. This would enable the Rovers to be owned and run by its loyal followers, and allow fans to play a major part in allowing the club to make positive strides.

Other projects similar to this include Accrington Stanley who last month announced a chance for fans to own shares of the club, and Scottish Premier League side St Mirren who like Tranmere are running a Trust named ‘10000 Hours’ which allows there Scottish following to voice their opinions, on how there club is run.

And although a lucrative and exciting prospect as it sounds for the SWA, the trust is a long way off from achieving there aims.The trust fund held a meeting last night to outline their proposal, but fans, onlookers and observers all echoed similar feedback that although the initial plans look promising, there is still a lot to be done if they are even considered by current chairman Peter Johnson. One time Apprentice candidate, and Rovers fan Christopher Farell who also attended the meeting on Twitter told a fan “I think they have got a long way to go yet, idea is there but they need a business plan”

The Benefits

It’s clear for all super white eyes to see that although a good servant for the club, businessman Johnson has neither the will power or bank balance to take the team to the next level, after leading them from the foot of the football league to where they are today. Fresh faces on the new management board could see cash injection, and the potential for an exciting new beginning at Prenton Park.

The club being owned by the community would presumably have reaps of benefits for the important faces of the football club, the fans. With fans being given the opportunity to have a say in how there club is run could see more community projects within the area, increased local employment, financial sustainability, and most of all, give the community its independence for the team they so dearly love.

A community run project as big as the ownership of Tranmere Rovers, will always make ideas and decisions with the interests of the clubs welfare at heart. Presumably the disastrous ownership of the ‘Cowboy Americans’ from next door was heard from across the Mersey, which consequently would of sent warning signs to all clubs like Tranmere that the bank balance of an investor does not automatically assume they are the next best thing for their team. A club run by its people would ensure there were no lousy businessmen/women who apparently are experts on the timing of the firing of the manager, and know which players to buy and get rid of, yet are clueless when asked how the offside rule operates.

The Risks

For all those who want to see The Rovers succeed, would welcome a community ownership run by its fans. With all the positives of a project taken into account however, the club would also have to address the negatives, and the weaknesses of the bid. For example the Trust would need technical aid, and expert advice if they were to proceed with their ideas as although the passion and money doesn’t seem to be a stumbling block, there knowledge of running a big business like a football club be it a Premier League side, or a Blue Square Premier side, is one that shows inexperience making it potentially a very difficult and stressful project.

There’s no doubt that Football in the modern day game, is a big business. There is an argument that a community run business in a massive market could add limitations for the club. Although the trust plans to raise a minimum of £300 000 in backing the scheme and the takeover would offer financial stability to the club. I sincerely doubt there is a fan out there willing to inject millions into the club whereas some non-Community projects would be able to invest the amount needed nowadays to be in the big time, and although currently this seems a long way off, the trust are looking at short term and long term plans, and a rise to the Premier League would surely be on the agenda of their Long term aims.

But despite these potential weaknesses, if the trust ensures they are organised and form a Business plan worthy of running a football club, there should be no reason why the trust can’t proceed, and succeed where many other trust funds have failed, in sustaining ownership of their club. Tranmere fans and interested observers, watch this space!

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