By 90Min
August 21, 2018

In an interview with award-winning documentary film maker Michael Moore, former Labour MP Tony Benn argued that democracy was the most revolutionary invention in the history of mankind. He argued that the by giving every man and woman one vote, it steered power away from the rich, but into the hands of the people. It was democracy therefore which created the NHS and the welfare state.

Whereas democracy is a staple in modern society, it does not exist in football. In football, the fans, the people who pay the wages of the players, who spend their money on tv subscription fees have no formal power.

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Take the example of Arsenal. American billionaire and owner of the Los Angeles Rams Stan Kroenke bought the 30% share that Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov owned in the club. This move gave Stan Kroenke virtually absolute power

However, Stan Kroenke has consistently failed Arsenal's fans. He has never given them the spending spree that they desire despite having the money to do so, whilst at the same time rising ticket prices to extortionate levels. Kroenke gives the appearance of a man merely at the club ti make money, as opposed to having any sporting motives.

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Arsenal fans can protest, rant and rave about the takeover, but in reality, there is very little they can do. Arsenal and the Premier League are so big globally that even a boycott at the stadium would have little impact on the ownership situation.

This is not a story unique to Arsenal. Newcastle fans have been going apoplectic about what Mike Ashley has done to the north east club, selling their best players, and even attempting to sell the soul of the club by re-naming St. James Park, the Sports Direct Arena for a period of time. Elsewhere, Man Utd, Hull City and Blackburn fans all fervently dislike their owners but yet can do very little about it.

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The only solution to these problems can be democracy. Fans with club memberships, season tickets should have to approve every club takeover with a 50% vote, and then should be given the chance every three years to once again decide whether the owner is still fit for purpose.

This would put the fans in control, giving them the chance to get rid of owners who aren't doing a satisfactory job. It would also mean that the owners of football clubs, the likes of Kroenke and Ashley, would have to focus on pleasing the fans, whether that be lowering ticket prices, improving toilet facilities or spending more on transfers, otherwise they will not earn re-election.

Obviously, this all sounds like pie in the sky thinking, but maybe fans do need to be more demanding and to put radical ideas onto the agenda. Politicians are always looking for a cheap vote winner, and this would be easy legislation to put into practice. People fought for centuries for democracy in politics, maybe it's time they did the same in football.

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