If it’s true or not. It’s a big question. Some will say No, some will say Yes but the very first aim of any Supporters Trust is to take a hold of the shares. Shares are be and end of all. No amount of green and gold scarf waving, protesting or watching FC United can compare with owning a percentage of shares. Owning shares should also be the start of something much larger and just owning them should give you some amount of communication. In 2005 Shareholders United as an organisation wasn’t anywhere near where others are today. The way it was set up hindered it’s very aims and objectives. You only have to look at todays clubs and other supporters trusts to see just how far we’ve moved on. 26 clubs are now 100% owned by the fans with another 110 clubs that have shares in them owned by the fans. 40 supporters trusts have directors on their board. That 26 clubs owned by the fans will likely raise this year if the Wrexham and Tranmere Rovers Supporter Trusts can take over their clubs with their current plans. In 2005 it was rare to hear of a club owned by the fans but now each season one or two go that way. The Famous two being AFC Wimbledon and FC United. In the higher leagues this is harder to come across but there are fans who have holdings. The Arsenal Supporters Trust currently own 3% of Arsenal which might not seem a lot but they refuse to sell them to either of the two major shareholders over the last few months. Swansea City fans own 19% of their club and Norwich City fans are buying as many shares as they can currently afford.
Since the early 1990s taking a share of the club has been the aim and it’s never got to the stage where they could be protected. The issue people will have with taking up any future share is money has to be paid out to the Glazers. Either a 5% share, 25% or 100%. There isn’t much getting around the fact that if as fans if we want a say we have to pay out. Boycotting on a mass scale didn’t work for the very simple reason that its creates a conflicting argument. We couldn’t even get all fans groups to agree on it and under current conditions its only a personal view which when explained many people don’t like. They don’t want to give up season tickets and they want to watch their team but that said a lot of people have given up season tickets. For what reason is unknown but I’d estimate that between 2008 and today that an average of 16,000 have given up tickets. 2008 season tickets numbered 66,000. 2010 numbered 55,000 and last summer 5,000 went on general sale and with this years tickets again being on open sale. I’d call 16,000 a low average on what might have really happened but I’d vote on price increasings and loss of jobs affecting this summers sales.
There are two ways of seeing how a share could be taken in the club. In 2005 when the shares were sold the Glazers paid other shareholders and shares held in Shareholders United cash for their shares. Using this cash to buy back the same shares in a more controlled manner could be the first allowable option. During the Football Governance Inquiry MUST called on the Government to create an opening where supporters could buy into their clubs. They set an aim out and argued that Supporters Trusts should be given a window to buy 25% of the shares within a club. One could argue that window is going to be the same window that would be created under an IPO but it would be open to all. If the aim is to buy 25% of the shares in the club and an option comes along it cannot just be ignored. The only other problem here is market price, I think we all know the Glazers will over value any share offering and many could fall for it but this is the stock market. Any major price drops after the initial offering could be a blessing in disguise. If the Glazers plan to sell £600 Million in shares am pretty sure they can’t just make up a value and hope for the best. Valuing the club at $1 Billion for 25% would seem like a very risky investment. $4 Billion or £2.5 Billion is likely 50% more than the club is worth. Buying a share and then watching it’s value drop more than 50% would only be a waste of money. Seeing £250 million spent on personal debt should also act as a warning as to how the company might operate. If the Supporters Trust want to take a share, the price for them has to be right. Am pretty sure if the value above was true they wouldn’t touch it but if the £600 million value was near the 40-45% mark it should be considered a possibility. Starting to take shares in the club is the only way of a takeover and its the only way of having a say. Everything else is just superficial and it’s the start of the ultimate goal.