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Men's Football FSF hits back at EFL CEO saying fans 'wouldn't have a club' without owners

THE Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) says “clubs could not exist without fans” after outgoing English Football League (EFL) chief executive Shaun Harvey said that without owners fans “wouldn’t have a club.”

Harvey said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek today that football needs “to look at how it treats the owners at some of its clubs.”

He added that owners of football clubs are being “roughed [up] and ridiculed in certain quarters.

“Championship losses are getting bigger. We have a business model that relies, just about, on owner funding.”

“Those owners are either benevolent, looking after their local clubs who they have supported for many years, or are investing to try to achieve the big prize that Aston Villa and Derby are going to play for [in the Championship play-off final today] this time.

“The [EFL] as it stands, will distribute more money to its clubs than ever before at about £230 million. That will be across all 72 clubs — that’s money that we generate and also money that we get through a deal with the Premier League, which does not include parachute payments.

“Yet in the Premier League the top 19 clubs all earned £100m and there was only one club that didn’t — and I think they got £97m — so you’ll forgive me for saying they all got £100m.

“So, 20 clubs, a minimum of £100m — 72 clubs sharing £230m. And, by the way, that’s not done evenly either.

“So, we are reliant on owners and football needs to look at how it treats the owners at some of its clubs.

“Fans not happy about the investment that is going into their club. Trust me, without them [the owners], they wouldn’t have a club.”

However, there have been ownership issues at EFL clubs such as Bolton and Notts County this season and ongoing concerns involving teams such as Coventry – who announced they have reached a groundshare back-up plan should they not be able to play at the Ricoh Arena next season – Blackpool and Charlton.

In addition, fan-owned clubs, such as AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester, have proven successful and the FSF said it was right that fans should be able to question club owners.

“There are a number of EFL clubs in crisis and fans of those clubs have understandably got serious questions for their owners,” an FSF spokesperson said.

“Football clubs could not exist without fans and their legacies are built on generations of supporters. Every owner in the country should remember that, and treat it with the respect it deserves.” 

Harvey has been EFL chief executive since 2013 and will leave his post next week after negotiating a much-maligned domestic broadcasting rights deal that several Championship clubs said had been done without them being consulted.

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