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Fit And Proper People By Martin Calladine & James Cave

Release date: 16th February, 2022
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: 10.25
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In 2015, Martin Calladine wrote The Ugly Game (you can probably guess the sport to which his book refers), an impassioned exhortation for the round ball game to change its ways.

Our review of The Ugly Game believed that Calladine made a ?cogent, often entertaining case for football to look west and discover what it could become, one capable of handling money and fame without compromising open, fair competition.?

As exciting and revolutionary as the author?s suggestions were, there were few takers from within football?s upper echelons. As a consequence, America?s NFL remains significantly more equitable and competitive than English football?s top-flight.

Now Calladine has teamed up with James Cave to produce another intelligent read, Fit And Proper People, the story of a revolutionary ?product? that football fans were desperate to work and in which they were happy to invest before the fa?ade collapsed.

Fit And Proper People explains how thousands of ordinary football fans were delighted to have that rarest of opportunities: to invest in a football club for less than ?100 ? later reduced to ?49 ? via an app brought to the market by a former Rugby League player, Stuart Harvey.

A born salesman, Harvey?s app, OWNAFC, was supposed to sweep away the old methods of running a football club. The authors and the majority of fans understand why: most clubs are subjected to ?short-termism and perpetual panic?. If, therefore, a fan-owned club could stop hiring and firing managers, stop spending ridiculous amounts on average players and invest in facilities, it would mark the start of a radical change from within the beautiful game.

Launched at the end of February 2019 ?as if it were a respectable alternative?, OWNAFC promised fans that they could vote on all boardroom decisions through an app and continue to use technology to run the club in a democratic manner.

Similar ideas have been pursued before ? at Ebbsfleet (via MyFC) in 2008 and in different guises at a variety of Football League clubs ? but OWNAFC appeared to tick all the boxes. Unfortunately, the dream of a footballing revolution collapsed within a few months, leaving far too many genuine football fans thousands of pounds out of pocket.

To date, Germany?s ?50+1 rule? remains perhaps the finest example of fan ownership, guarding against people who are neither fit nor proper, preventing them from owning a club. In effect, it means that fans hold the majority of voting rights. Under German Football League rules, clubs are not allowed to play in the Bundesliga if commercial investors hold more than a 49% of the organisation?s shares. Could it happen here? After reading Fit And Proper People, you may feel it?s a long shot at best.


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