billsportsmaps.com

June 26, 2014

Map and chart of supporter-owned football clubs in the English football league system [England & Wales] (33 clubs as of June, 2014) / Plus illustrations for Brentford FC (highest-placed supporter-owned club), Portsmouth FC (highest-drawing supporter-owned club), and FC United of Manchester (new stadium set for Sept. 2014 opening).

england_june-2014_map-of-supporter-owned_football-clubs_33-clubs_post_e.gif
Map and chart of supporter-owned football clubs in the English football league system (33 clubs as of June, 2014)



Primary source for the map and chart:
Category:Fan-owned English League football clubs‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Please note that the list at the link above is not complete, omitting [at least, to my knowledge,] 3 clubs:
-Blackstones FC (a 10th Level club from south Lincolnshire, just east of the historic county of Rutland);
-Brentford FC (a just-promoted now-2nd-division club from Hounslow in West London, who are the highest-placed supporter-owned club in England as of 2014-15/see illustration further below);
-and Dorchester Town (a just-relegated 7th Level Southern Premier League club from Dorset, in the West Country).

Also, as of this posting, the now-defunct club Scarborough Town is still included on that list.

So…this map and post features 33 supporter-owned clubs in the English football pyramid [as of July 2014]. There well may be some other 8th or 9th or 10th level clubs in the English football pyramid which are also supporter-owned, and if any one out there has information about possible supporter-owned clubs in the lower divisions of Non-league football which I missed, I would greatly appreciate you putting a comment in here.

Criteria for being called supporter-owned
For the purposes of this map and post, the definition of supporter-owned club is as follows…
Supporter-owned clubs in England & Wales with majority ownership, with either:
1). a majority of seats on the Board (such as in the case of 7th-level-club Chesham United),
2). or being a club which is 50%-to-100% supporter-owned (ie, 32 of the 33 clubs on this map and post),
3). or being a club whose ground is supporter-owned (which is what Wycombe Wanderers’ supporters trust, who currently still own the club, intend to do/see 2 paragraphs below)]…

[Please note: Clubs like 5th-division-club Lincoln City (25%-owned by the LCFC Supporters' Trust/see this), or like Premier League club Swansea City (20%-owned by the SCAFC Supporters' Trust/see this) or like 6th-level-club Cambridge City (10% supporter-owned) are not shown on the map.]

Since I last covered this subject in September 2011, one club was supporter-owned but reverted back to private ownership (Ebbsfleet United). In the interim, a 4th division club’s supporters’ trust took over their club, but then disclosed their intention to sell the club again, yet still intend to retain ownership of the ground. That club is 4th division club Wycombe Wanderers. If this sale goes through, the WWFC Trust will retain a board member and retain ownership of Adams Park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. So this is another wrinkle in the trend towards supporter-owned clubs {see this, from 14 Feb. 2014, ‘Wycombe Wanderers Supporters’ Trust to sell club‘ (bbc.co.uk)}. This is definitely not a step backwards for Wycombe fans…I reckon there are a whole lot of fans of clubs all across the UK who wish their club’s ground was owned by their supporters.

The vast majority of clubs who are on the map here are clubs that came to be supporter-owned via a financial crisis at the club (such as with 4th-division club Portsmouth), or at the original club that was then replaced by a Phoenix-club (such as with Chester and with Darlington and with Telford, among others). But there looks to be a new trend of clubs who became supporter-owned not through crisis but because enough supporters were able to accomplish the takeover. Specifically, 5th division/Conference club Wrexham of North Wales, who were taken over by their supporters’ trust in December 2011. Two years later, the club became debt-free {see this, ‘Wrexham: Club now debt free under fan ownership‘ (supporters-direct.org); and see this, ‘AGM – Press Report‘ (wrexhamafc.co.uk)}. Fans of other clubs in higher-placed leagues are currently trying to achieve what Wrexham did, such as at now-4th-division club Tranmere Rovers, where current ownership is working with the supporters’ trust to assure proper stewardship of the club, but funds raised have fallen short of the target so far {see this, ‘Tranmere Rovers FC Supporters Trust intend to press on with their attempts to win control at Prenton Park‘ (wirralnews.co.uk)}.

When I first covered the subject of supporter-owned clubs in Britain – in the early autumn of 2011 – there were 20 supporter-owned clubs in the English football pyramid. Now, just under four years later, there are 33, with many others having partial ownership by supporters.

My previous map on the subject, from Sept. 2011 – http://billsportsmaps.com/?category_name=engl-supporter-owned-clubs [20 clubs].

    Brentford FC – the highest-placed supporter-owned club in England

In 2013-14, Brentford finished 2nd in League One, winning the 2nd automatic promotion to the Football League Championship (the 2nd level).

First off…Question: ‘Who owns Brentford Foootball Club?‘ (beesunited.org.uk).
Answer: Bees United [The Brentford FC Supporters Trust], own 60.3% of the shares of Brentford FC; Matthew Benham owns 30.7% of the shares of Brentford FC; others own 9.0% of the shares of Brentford FC.

Brentford FC, aka the Bees, are from Brentford, Hounslow, West London, which was prior to 1965 situated in the former historical county of Middlesex. You can see the connection to Middlesex in Brentford’s crest, which features the three gold hilted, white seaxes on a red background {Middlesex flag, here (britishcountyflags.wordpress.com)} [note: as does the crest and flag of the historic county of Essex].

Despite being located in Greater London and currently drawing a respectable 7.7 K per game, Brentford sails somewhat under the radar and is not too well known, especially amongst the newer breed of Premier League fan. It would probably surprise many that have started following English football in the last decade that Brentford has actually been in the First Division – albeit not in over half a century. Brentford spent 5 seasons in the English top flight, from 1935-36 to 1946-47 [7 seasons of the Football League were lost due to World War II].

It probably hurt the club that World War II interrupted Brentford’s only spell in the First Division – they were relegated the first season after league play was resumed in 1946-47. There then followed a period of slow decline for the club, culminating in the threat of extinction in the late 1960s, when Brentford were in the 4th division and broke, and QPR tried to absorb the club. Brentford was saved at the last minute with an emergency loan of 104,000 pounds. As to the club’s time spent in the second tier, it has been just 13 seasons total, and again, it has been a while – 21 years since Brentford were in the second division (for a one-season-spell in 1992-93). Brentford has historically been a third division club through and through – 2013-14 was Brentford’s 57th season in the third tier.

Brentford became supporter-owned in 2006. Here is an excerpt from the Brentford’s page at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Former BBC Director-General and Bees fan Greg Dyke was announced as chairman of Brentford on 20 January 2006 as part of the takeover by Bees United, the Brentford Supporters Trust.’

Brentford’s Griffin Park, opened in 1904, is pretty old-school as grounds go. At Griffin Park, spectators sit right on top of the action. It might be rough around the edges, but upkeep has been OK. It is situated in a mainly residential neighborhood. Behind one goal, the Brook Road Stand (like the one at Southend) is a nice-and-not-too-large-yet-still-two-tiered-stand {see it here}. Griffin Road features, famously, a pub at every corner of the ground. Its capacity is 12,300. Circa 2001-02 to 2011-12, Brentford had been averaging between 5 and 6,000 per game, until 2 seasons ago [2012-13], when their promotion push fell agonizingly short (see illustration below), and they drew 6.3 K. Last season [2013-14], they finally achieved the promotion they had been striving for for nigh on half a decade – and drew a respectable 7,715 per game, including 10 K on the day they won promotion and a deliriously joyful pitch invasion was had (also see below).

For Brentford’s fans, this is starting to look like the start of a new Golden Age, because a 20 K-capacity stadium has just recently been approved by Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as all the local councils, etc. Their new stadium is slated for a 2016 opening. It is to be situated at a site only a couple miles away from the Bees present location, east of Griffin Park, near Kew Bridge (which, incidentally, still has a sign for west-bound traffic which says ‘Welcome to Middlesex’) {see this, ‘Brentford FC’s new Lionel Road stadium gets the final thumbs up‘ (getwestlondon.co.uk)}.

Once their new stadium is up and running, Brentford FC should be set up well to both increase their fan base and increase their chances of staying out of the lower Leagues. More power to them.

brentford-fc_highest-placed-supporter-owned-club_england_2nd-division-club-in-2014-15_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Bees Utd banner from beesunited.org.uk.
Aerial photo, by Andreas Praefcke at ‘File:Griffin Park aerial 2011.jpg‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
2013 heartbreak for BFC, photo by Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football.
2014, promotion for BFC, 1st photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
2014, promotion for BFC, 2nd photo by PA via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football.
-BFC League history data from: brentford-mad.co.uk/league_history/brentford.

    Portsmouth FC – the highest-drawing supporter-owned club in England

Portsmouth’s 2013-14 avg. attendance: 15,460 per game {from home league matches}.
Portsmouth became the largest supporter-owned club in England, after the Pompey Supporters Trust successfully gained possession of Fratton Park in April 2013. After finding themselves drawn into the 13/14 League Two relegation battle, Portsmouth went undefeated in their last 6 matches (winning 4), and finished in 13th place. Previously, Portsmouth had suffered their third relegation in 4 seasons following a 7-year-spell in the Premier League, where they had finished as high as 8th place in 2007-08 and won the FA Cup that same season. Due to automatic points deductions while being in administration, a cash-strapped Portsmouth had suffered back-to-back relegations in 2012 and 2013 during the messy and protracted supporters-trust-takeover-battle. It looked like yet another relegation loomed until academy director Andy Awford stepped back in the caretaker-manager’s role in late March 2014, and shook up the squad. Awford was appointed full-time manager in May 2014.

portsmouth-fc_highest-drawing-supporter-owned-club_england_15k-in-2013-14_b_.gif
Photo credits above -
Aerial photo, unattributed at
pompeychimes.webs.com/frattonpark.
Exterior photo, by PA via telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/portsmouth.
Fratton End fans’ TIFO/team huddle photo, from pompeytrust.com.
-PFC League history data from: portsmouth-mad.co.uk/league_history/portsmouth.

    FC United of Manchester – a supporter-owned club that is building their own stadium

FC United of Manchester, aka FC United, is a 7th level/Northern Premier League club that has been supporter-owned since the club’s formation in 2005. They are currently building their own stadium, Broadhurst Park, in Moston, Manchester, about 3 miles (5 km) north-east of Manchester city center. Construction began in November 2013 and is scheduled to be completed by September 2014. Capacity will be 5,000 (672 seated). FCUM has been averaging close to 2 K per game (1,929 per game in 2013-14), which is over 1.5 K higher than the median-average of the Northern Premier (its median crowd-size for 13/14 was 320; figures here, nonleaguematters.co.uk/divisions/[Northern Prem]).

FC United of Manchester were of course formed by disaffected Manchester United fans in the wake of the widespread anger at the Glazers’ debt-leveraged takeover of Manchester United in May 2005. They entered the English football leagues pyramid at the 10th level in 2005-06, and won promotion three consecutive seasons. But now, FC United have been stuck in the Northerm Premier League for 6 seasons, with 2014-15 set to be their 7th season in the 7th tier. FC United have lost in the Northern Prem playoffs for four straight seasons now (including playoffs finals losses in 10/11 to Colwyn Bay, in 11/12 to Bradford Park Avenue, and in 12/13 to Hednesford Town). But the light is at the end of the tunnel in FC United’s quest to secure their own ground. That will probably boost attendances more towards the 2 K to 3 K crowd sizes they were getting in their first 2 seasons {FCUM league & cup history+attendances, here}, and hopefully it will propel them up the football pyramid further. With their new, supporter-owned ground, FC United will probably find it easier to resume their advance up the English football pyramid.

fc-united-of-manchester_new-stadium_being-built_broadhurst-park_2014_c_.gif

Photo and Image credits above –
1st photo, unattributed at fcunited.ru/news.
2nd photo, by Sean Wilton at manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/fc-united-ground-moston-begins.
3rd photo, unattributed at skyscrapercity.com [thread: MANCHESTER |New FC United of Manchester Stadium Broadhurst Park.
Architect's rendering, unattributed at fcunited.ru/en/broadhurst_park.

...

    List of Supporter-owned clubs in England & Wales

Below, clubs listed by 2014-15 league placement and 2013-14 finish,
Brentford FC, 2nd level (League Championship)/ 2nd place, League One {Promoted to the Championship for 2014-15}; 7,715 per game.
Portsmouth FC, 4th level (League Two)/ 13th place, League Two; 15,460 per game.
Exeter City FC, 4th level (League Two)/ 17th place, League Two; 3,700 per game.
AFC Wimbledon, 4th level (League Two)/ 20th place, League Two; 4,134 per game.
Wycombe Wanderers, 4th level (League Two)/ 22nd place, League Two {escaped relegation on goal diff.}; 3,680 per game.
Wrexham FC, 5th level/ 17th place; 2,978 per game.
AFC Telford United, 5th level/ 1st place, Conference North {Promoted to the Conference National for 2014-15}; 1,688 per game.
Chester FC, 6th level/ 21st place, Conference National {relegated to Conference North for 2014-15}; 2,366 per game.
Chelmsford City FC, 6th level/ 17th place, Conference South; 647 per game.
Dorchester Town FC, 7th level/ 22nd place [last], Conference South {relegated to the Southern League Premier for 2014-15}; 390 per game.
Chesham United FC, 7th level/ 2nd place, Southern League {lost playoff final to St Albans City}; 378 per game.
FC United of Manchester, 7th level/ 2nd place, Northern League Premier {lost in playoffs 1st R}; 1,929 per game.
Hendon FC, 7th level/ 8th place, Isthmian League Premier; 176 per game.
Lewes FC, 7th level/ 16th place, Isthmian League Premier; 503 per game.
Enfield Town FC, 7th level/ 19th place, Isthmian League Premier; 385 per game.
Darlington 1883 FC, 8th level/ 2nd place, Northern Premier League Div 1 North {lost in playoffs 1st R}; 1,097 per game.
Merthyr Town FC, 8th level/ 2nd place, Southern Football League Div 1 South & West {lost in playoffs 1st R}; 337 per game.
Scarborough Athletic FC, 8th level/ 7th place, Northern Premier League Div 1 North; 385 per game.
Aylesbury United FC, 8th level/ 12th place, Southern League Div 1 Central; 165 per game.
Prescott Cables FC, 8th level/ 20th place, Northern Premier League Div 1 North; 175 per game.
Runcorn Linnets, 9th level/ 2nd place, North West Counties Football League Premier; 323 per game.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds, 9th level/ 3rd place, United Counties League Premier; 321 per game.
Maine Road FC, 9th level/ 4th place, North West Counties Premier; 92 per game.
Newport (Isle Of Wight) FC, 9th level/ 4th place, Wessex League Premier; 120 per game.
Windsor FC, 9th level/ 6th place, Combined Counties League Premier; 205 per game.
AFC Liverpool, 9th level/ 7th place, North West Counties Football League Premier; 119 per game.
Canterbury City FC, 9th level/ 12th place, Southern Counties East League; 85 per game.
Fisher FC, 9th level/ 14th place, Southern Counties East League; 88 per game.
Bomsgrove Sporting FC, 10th level/ 2nd place, Midland Football Combination Premier Division; 243 per game.
1874 Northwich FC, 10th level/ 3rd place, North West Counties League Div 1; 320 per game.
Saffron Walden Town FC, 10th level/ 5th place, Eastern Counties Football League Div 1; 186 per game.
AFC Croyden Athletic, 10th level/ 13th place, Combined Counties Football League; 44 per game.
Blackstones FC, 10th level/ 20th place, United Counties League Div 1; 42 per game.
___

Thanks to the following sites for attendances,
3rd level/League One, football-league.co.uk/page/DivisionalAttendance [League 1].
4th level/League Two, football-league.co.uk/page/DivisionalAttendance [League 2].
Non-League/5th level/Conference, int.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national.
Non-League/6th level/Conference N & S, int.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-n–s.
Non-League/7th level through 9th levels, nonleaguematters.co.uk.
Bomsgrove Sporting attendances, bromsgrovesporting.co.uk/pages/first-team/matches.php.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan-owned_sports_teams#England.
A big Thank You to the site called Non-League Matters for the hard-to-get attendance figures in (most) lower-level leagues below the 6th level in Non-League football, at http://www.nonleaguematters.co.uk/divisions/35/.
Thanks to Supporters Direct for existing.

2 Comments »

  1. Great Post!!!

    Love the supporter owned teams… wish this would happen in the USA

    Comment by Dale — June 28, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

  2. Thanks, Dale – I definitely agree.

    Comment by admin — June 28, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

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