Labour vow to give football fans power to hire and fire club directors

6 October 2019, 16:24 | Updated: 6 October 2019, 23:03

A Labour government would give football fans the power to hire and fire their club's directors, Jeremy Corbyn has promised.

Setting out a series of proposals, Labour have vowed to empower supporters and review football governance.

Mr Corbyn met Newcastle United fans this weekend, with the Labour leader criticising the club's owner, Mike Ashley, as an example of "bad owners" in the game.

Under the party's plans, a Labour government would:

  • Legislate to give supporters' trusts the power to appoint and remove at least two members of a club's board of directors
  • Legislate to enable supporters' trusts to purchase shares when clubs change hands
  • Review all aspects of football governance, including fan participation
  • Ensure that the Premier League invests 5% of income from television rights into grassroots football
  • Enforce anti-bot legislation to crack down on ticket-tout websites selling tickets at inflated prices
  • Ban zero-hours contracts and guarantee a "living wage" of at least £10 per hour for all staff, including those working at football stadia on match days
  • Add women's sporting events, including the women's football world cup, to the list of key sporting events to be broadcast on free-to-air TV
  • Improve access provision for disabled sports fans by ensuring improvements are made and by prioritising action to make clubs comply with obligations under the 2010 Equality Act

Only four of 20 Premier League clubs - Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham - were recently found to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

This means they are committed to paying all staff and any third-party contract workers the voluntary rate of £9 an hour and £10.55 in London, higher than the statutory "National Living Wage" of £8.21.

Premier League clubs were estimated to have made a combined £4.2bn last year.

Labour's community organising unit is currently working with Newcastle fans to organise against billionaire businessman Mr Ashley, who has been unpopular with many supporters since he bought the club in 2007.

Speaking after his meeting with Newcastle fans, Mr Corbyn said: "A football club is more than just a club, it is an institution at the heart of our communities.

"Clubs are part of the social fabric that binds us together.

"They are too important to be left in the hands of bad owners like Mike Ashley who put their business interests ahead of everything else, marginalise supporters and even put the financial security of clubs at risk.

"Sport must be run in the interests of those who participate in it, follow it and love it, not just for the privileged and wealthy few.

"We will ensure that supporters have a say over how their club is run and review how fans can have more of a say about how all of our sporting bodies are run.

"Under a Labour government the Premier League riches will be used to invest in grassroots football for the good of all our communities, fans will be protected from rip-off online ticket touts and staff who work at football clubs will get security and a living wage."

A Premier League spokesperson told Sky News: "We will take our time to study the detail of the proposals and will respond in due course and through the appropriate channels."

A EFL spokesman said: "Whilst progress continues to be made with the previously announced overarching and independent review of the League's Governance structures, the EFL notes the wide-ranging proposals published by the Labour Party today and will examine them before responding as appropriate."

Sky News has attempted to reach Newcastle United for comment.