Burnham calls for co-operative club ownership
Culture secretary Andy Burnham has called for the Premier League to follow in the footsteps of Spain and Germany and put ownership of football clubs into the hands of fans.
In a speech to the Co-operative Party conference in Westminster, Burnham voiced concern at the spate of big-money takeovers, most recently evident at Manchester City, which he believes are in danger of alienating fans from their clubs.
"If football follows the same path in the next 10 years as it has in the last, there is a real risk that the game will lose touch with its core support," he will say.
"We need to ask urgently what we want for the future of our game, before something precious is lost."
Burnham is a long-standing advocate of clubs being owned by their supporters - most notably in place at Barcelona - and is eager for that mutual, democratic model - as seen in La Liga and the Bundesliga - to be implemented in the UK.
However, Burnham insists it is not the responsibility of the Government to initiate change and has called on the FA to re-examine the ease with which clubs can fall into foreign hands.
"Regulation has to be led by the FA - it is not for the government to run football," he said.
"I want the FA to step up to the challenge and lead an in-depth look at regulating the finance of football, for the overall health of the game."
In his speech, Burnham added: "Professional football has its origins in the community and community organisations.
"Those origins built the fierce loyalty in clubs, with supporters seeing the clubs as expressions of their identity.
"That loyalty is actually what makes the clubs so marketable but in marketing them there is a real risk of eroding their place in the community."
An FA spokesman said that the governing body's chairman, Lord Triesman, agrees that clubs must not abandon their roots in pursuit of riches.
"Lord Triesman met with Andy Burnham to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the game, including fit and proper ownership of clubs and the development of home-grown talent," they said.
"Like Andy he firmly believes that clubs must preserve their links with their communities, and shares concerns if clubs are being bought for their short-term investment value rather than their long-term success.
"These issues, and the need to reconsider football's regulatory framework in this area, are very high on the chairman's list of priorities."