What does a shareholding in a non-league football club get you?
Earlier this month we saw the 4,000 joint shareholders of Wrexham Football Club get the chance to vote for the new strip for 2015/16. More than 1,200 voted for a traditional red home strip and an ‘Argentina style’ away strip. A rather ironic consultation (and indeed choice) when considering what has been going on further up the league pyramid on the other side of Wales.
Whilst kit designs get people excited, the real vote each year at Wrexham takes place in the summer when Board positions are available for the governing body that owns the football club. That may not get quite the level of media interest, but had the same system of elections been in place down in Cardiff, one would think the agenda item of ‘team colours’ might have been handled rather better.
Another view would be a significant or majority shareholding gets you a liability, and unfortunately it doesn’t end there. It’s a liability that a lot of people have an opinion about, have great connection to, and think said shareholders could do a better job with. Chuck in a sporting competition that rewards clubs willing to take risks and lose money, and things start to get a bit problematic.
The way to address it? Accept that there are no quick wins. Build the club on a business model that is more concerned with what happens off the pitch than on it. Don’t turn your back on the most exciting and emotive bit (the green rectangle), but accept that you are a very small fish in a very big pond. You will get eaten. And you’ll be poorer for it.
Everything around the pitch sustains what happens on it. That includes getting a club structure that has engaged shareholders; not long lists of shareholders that forget they own them, but ones that renew annually. An active shareholder who part owns the club should be committed – win, lose or draw.