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Continental model is on its way here.

THE model proposed by fans on Tyneside is a concept with which football supporters on the continent are already very familiar.

Public ownership at Spanish giants FC Barcelona has seen fans elect presidents and ensure accountability.

The club currently has 156,000 members, or "socios", who pay an annual members' fee and have the right to vote on the presidency, board and other matters, including the club's charitable work.

FC Barcelona also has a number of different sports that run under the same umbrella organisation, including hockey, basketball and handball, a model that Sir John Hall tried, but ultimately failed, to recreate in Newcastle in the 1990s.

It is a concept that is gradually making its way on to British soil.

Liverpool supporters unveiled ambitious plans to buy the Anfield club from its American owners in February this year.

The Share Liverpool FC Group, which is fronted by a number of high-profile supporters, will see 100,000 fans attempting to launch a pounds 550m buy-out that would oust Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who bought the club in 2007.

The audacious bid was sparked after the owners took out a pounds 350m re-financing loan, despite reports that either one, or both, were willing to sell a stake to Dubai International Capital.

In November last year, Kent non-league side Ebbsfleet United were bought out by website MyFootballClub after approximately 27,000 members each paid pounds 35 to provide an approximate pounds 700,000 takeover fund.

While they all earned themselves an equal share in the club, they make no profit and do not receive a dividend.

But they do have the right to vote on all major decisions, including transfers as well as player selection.

Instead of a manager, they employ a first team coach and a number of backroom staff.

League One team Northampton Town has a 7% share owned by a fans group, which spent pounds 102,000 to stabilise the cash-strapped club.

The group has an elected supporters' representative who sits on the board.

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VOTERS Public ownership at Barcelona has seen fans elect presidents.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2008
Words:348
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