The FC Barcelona Model - can it work at Newcastle United?

October 9, 2009 at 3:14am

FC Barcelona's ownership structure is revered across the world and regarded as a model of the ideal football club.

Barca is owned by its ever-growing membership of 156,366 'socis' (members), who pay 150euros each year and are represented by a randomly-selected group who meet with the board and vote on major decisions.

These representatives have a major say on significant issues such as sponsorship, finances and sporting affairs, while the president of the club is elected in four-yearly polls.

The achievements of the illustrious club since its founding in 1899 are testament to the ongoing success of the structure, as is the fact many clubs have attempted to copy the model over the years.

So why does Barca's system work so well?

All adult members are eligible to vote in the presidential elections every four years.

Club members selected randomly by computer and age, and 25 chosen by the board, join the directors, former presidents and other officials at the annual delegates assembly to discuss key issues, approve the annual report and forthcoming projects.

Only members can buy season tickets, with membership fees contributing to the overall price of the ticket.

Fiscal rewards for membership include discounted tickets for the club's various sports teams including football, basketball, handball and hockey as well as club magazines, e-mail updates, sporting and cultural activities and free entry to the Nou Camp tour and museum.

Ultimately, though, it is not the material rewards which make the Barca membership structure so prestigious.

In a modern game spoiled by disaffected supporters and unaccountable owners, it is FC Barcelona's utopian democracy which justifies its famous slogan 'More than a Club'.

People seem to be blurring the lines when it comes to this issue at Newcastle United, We are not talking about fans shouting at the players at half-time in the dressing room. Far from it.

The whole point of fan ownership is that, instead of being answerable to an indiscriminate number of unknown shareholders around the world (as was the case during the Hall / Shepherd era), whoever is running the club is answerable to US, and the thousands who turn up each week and pay their hard-earned money to watch their team.

Everyone - from the chairman through the players to the janitor - answers to the owners of the club (the fanbase) and nobody else.

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