UEFA president Michel Platini has said he favours the Spanish ‘socio’ ownership model for European clubs.
Four La Liga clubs -- Barcelona, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao -- are socio-owned, with presidents elected by members and policies theoretically decided democratically.
The popular model means clubs cannot be sold to outsiders but is under threat, with the European Commission reportedly considering whether this status breaches EU free-trade laws and the Spanish government recently having forced socio-owned lower-division sides to convert into private companies.
Platini, who has been the driving force behind the ‘financial fair play’ system, told a UEFA event in Bilbao that he liked the fan-ownership model as it was the most sustainable for club’s futures.
“Members’ societies controlled by socios, who have their own ground, who invest in the youth system and who maintain their own identity, [are the ideal],” Platini said in quotes reported by Mundo Deportivo. “They must also guarantee that they will not spend more than they take in. We must have the ideal of a club which I would like as a reference.”
Platini said it was okay for foreign investors to buy big football clubs providing they take their responsibilities seriously.
“Outside people can take control of the clubs once they do it seriously, following the regulations,” he said. “It should not be a temporary adventure, and they should not meddle in the day-to-day running of the team or in its history.”
The former France star also said that he was surprised at how easily the idea of third-party investors was accepted by many in football, particularly after players had fought so hard for so long to gain control over their own careers.
"It is hard to understand that footballers, who have battled so much and so long to be independent of clubs, ending the old contract situation [with the Bosman Ruling in 1995], are now controlled by third-party funds,” he said. ‘I do not accept that. I am going to fight with all my strength against that.”
AS also reported from the event that Bilbao is set to be a host city for Euro 2020, when the competition will be spread all across Europe.
Espanyol’s Cornella el Prat, Valencia’s Nuevo Mestalla and Atletico Madrid’s La Peineta grounds were also under consideration, although the last two -- both owned by clubs which are private companies and hugely in debt -- are currently half-finished and not guaranteed to be ready for 2020.