Let's Talk about Real Fan Power; the Newcastle Utd Scandal Should Make Us Think Again about Football Plcs

By Gamble, Andrew; Kelly, Gavin | New Statesman (1996), March 27, 1998 | Go to article overview

Let's Talk about Real Fan Power; the Newcastle Utd Scandal Should Make Us Think Again about Football Plcs


Gamble, Andrew, Kelly, Gavin, New Statesman (1996)


On 5 April Newcastle United and Sheffield United meet in the semifinal of the FA Cup. But both clubs have been making more headlines recently off the field than on it. Sheffield lost a manager, chairman and chief executive in one week, while two Newcastle directors, Freddie Shepherd and Douglas Hall, have just been forced to resign after reports of their denigration of their own team's supporters.

The Newcastle resignations have been hailed as a victory for fan power. But this is far from the reality: the two men still in effect own the club and the immediate crisis has been abated only by the temporary return of Hall's father, the local magnate Sir John Hall, to the board.

Both clubs' crises should cause us to question the path of their commercial development. For, along with an increasing number of others, both have become plcs, floated on the stock exchange. The plc is seen as the modern way to run a football club. But it has created new conflicts between shareholders and fans.

Sheffield United's manager resigned in protest at the chief executive's curious strategy of trying to achieve Premiership status by selling his best players. Noisy demonstrations then forced the chairman and chief executive to resign. The outrage of Newcastle fans at the behaviour of the two directors comes in the wake of earlier unease about the timing of Kevin Keegan's resignation as manager.

But the role of supporters - and thus the extent of fan power - is pretty well limited to invading the pitch, singing nasty songs and (in real desperation) boycotting matches. Even when the faces in the boardroom change, the problems don't. Fans believe big clubs are increasingly run in the interests of shareholders rather than supporters. To football fans, for whom transfer of loyalty is not an option, this trend is nothing short of a betrayal.

Could it be different? Well, yes, it could. There are two possible strategies. The first is a reformist corporate governance agenda, tightening the accountability of directors to shareholders while informally increasing the involvement of fans, councils and schools (under review by the football task force). Clubs might appoint fans as non-executive directors and conduct "supporter audits". But while this would be an improvement, it is unlikely to touch on the issues that concern most fans.

The second strategy starts from the recognition that supporters have a fundamentally different relationship with their team than consumers do with the producers of most other goods and services. Though there are many teams in the league, once you have made your choice of club you have nowhere else to go. Fans also have to survive on trust. They purchase season tickets without knowing which players will be at the club, let alone who will be managing it. Accordingly, it would be appropriate if football clubs were legally required to further the longterm interests of the club and its supporters as a whole rather than the narrow interests of shareholders. But this would be difficult to enforce for football clubs alone, and would probably require a comprehensive reform of company law. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Let's Talk about Real Fan Power; the Newcastle Utd Scandal Should Make Us Think Again about Football Plcs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.