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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Will big money kill off community ownership in League of Ireland?

The member-owned model taps into that heart and local embeddedness central to the LOI's authenticity. In contrast to private ownership, member-ownership is driven by the view that supporters should be viewed as stakeholders rather than consumers. Co-operative clubs are not driven purely by profit, they offer supporters a voice in their clubs, and challenge the ever-growing agenda that football clubs are toys for the wealthy or state-backed investment vehicles for sportswashing.

Supporter ownership of football clubs is not something radical or confined to the margins of European football. Examples of such ownership models exist in Germany (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund), Spain (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao), Portugal (Sporting CP), Norway (Rosenberg), Sweden (Malmo FF) and Scotland (Hearts, St Mirren and Motherwell). It has been supported and celebrated by UEFA as a model that can achieve financial sustainability, good governance and volunteer engagement.

In Ireland, both the co-operative and member-owned models have delivered a vehicle through which clubs can embed themselves within their communities. Evidence of this can be seen through the fundraising and community work at the heart of Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps in the northwest. Elsewhere, the engagement of clubs such as Bohemians and Cobh Ramblers in championing charities and local initiatives leads one to question why so many would be eager to usher back in an era of private investor dominance.

Read the rest at RTE


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