Footballing community ‘shares’ love of ‘Beautiful Game’

There is nothing unites a community more than the love of its local football club and that’s why more and more supporters are taking the community share option to protect the long term future of their local team.

FC United is of course the most famous example of a group of supporters taking ownership of a club, gaining lots of media coverage when it was formed back in 2005.

But their case is different from most – they were not seeking to bail out a financially-stricken club but to form an entirely new entity because of their objections to the takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family.

FC United is owned and democratically run by its 3,894 members and while not scaling the dizzy heights of the Premier League or the Champions League it is a successful and ambitious club playing in the Northern Premier League and has reached the second round of the FA Cup during its short life.

It is a community benefit society and its membership enjoy an equal voting share in the club. It carries out a host of community-based activities, including adult education, health and sports development working with young people and vulnerable adults.

The oldest club in Wales, Wrexham FC was in danger of going out of existence when its supporters decided to form the Wrexham Supporters Trust and launch a community share offer in April 2012.

Under the banner ‘Our Club, Our Future’ its aim was to secure a solid financial future and protect a club beloved of the local community. It is another success story and proof that community shares can be a great option for raising money and keeping tradition alive. The club now has 3,935 members and has raised more than £2 million since it was formed.

It is playing in the Conference Premiership, the fifth tier of English Football but no doubt has ambitions to return to its glory days in the Football League with its Welsh counterparts Swansea City and Cardiff City.

Closer to home, Cork City FC is another club run by its supporters. It is owned by the Friends of the Rebel Army (FORAS) Supporters Trust and members can buy a share in the club for as little as 120 Euros a year.

The Trust was launched in 2008 to provide Cork City with a meaningful future and formed the FORAS Co-op in 2010 when the club was liquidated. The club is now thriving and is playing in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

These successful clubs are proof positive that community shares are a great option for supporters who want more of a say in the running of their home town teams and want to protect and maintain them for future generations.