Football Investors vs Societies

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 04 September 2018   |   By Tebogo Sebego
Sebego Sebego

Let me break it down for you. Football needs investors. Investors do not have to own a football team but come in with a commercial interest. In Germany, the model adopted there is 50+1% for the Supporters and that is what has sustained their game. Supporters can own their shares through a Supporters Society or Trust. Get it?  Supporters are stakeholders in their Team. That hold the larger stake!

Now, when the Investors comes in, he takes a certain level of control of the running of the team BUT the Team Brand e.g. colours, locality, culture CANNOT be changed by the Investor. The Society remains in control of those features that define the Team. The model is not a donation based relationship. A football Team is a generational entity; its life goes beyond that of the Individuals, investors included.

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Supporters remain the owners of the team. They keep tab on the numbers and ensure growth. They organise themselves and continue to have their regular meetings where they take decisions geared at protecting and growing their brand. In the ultimate scheme of things, the Team must be self-sustaining without an Investor.

To make it simple, the path taken by EPL should serve as a template. They had Investors like Barclays sponsoring their league. Barclays didn't own EPL. Ultimately EPL grew sufficiently and became self-sustaining and didn't need Barclays as a Sponsor (Title Sponsor) because they could run the league without a title sponsor. I am not saying that the model is identical, get me. I am drawing similarities on the principle.

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Now, this thing about Investors wanting to OWN teams is inappropriate. It also demonstrates deficiency of understanding in football business. People talk about Societies negatively; most don't understand how Societies and Supporters Trusts function if properly run. Notwane, for example, is a 1965 Team. Many generations of leaders have contributed significantly to grow the brand. Sebego MUST NOT OWN Notwane. He can Invest or contribute to make the brand self-sustaining.

The team must in the end have proper structures; strong accounting processes; methodologies that distil potential leaders; proper laid out money generating schemes. In the end, the Team must be able to run on its own. The Society must be adequately empowered to break away from the Investor. Football teams must never be at the mercy of an individual. That's a recipe for disaster.

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*Tebogo Sebego is a practising attorney, current Chairman of Notwane Football Club and former president of Botswana Football Association (BFA).



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