clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arsenal Fanshare Scheme To Close Down

A pioneering program struggled to find success and is now going away.

Shaun Botterill

With the rise of seriously obscene money controlling the game, and particularly the upper echelons of the game, fans can feel increasingly detached from their club - they don't get to see the players as people, just as an expensively assembled collection of talent, and going to a match is increasingly more impersonal and expensive, as having a "matchday experience", with all its attendant bells and whistles, has supplanted "going to a game".

Clubs were and are seen as being at best indifferent to, and at worst ignoring, fan concerns about price, atmosphere, etc., because fans in England aren't owners and have no voice in the running of the club.  Arsenal, in particular, is a very tightly held club - there are only 62,217 shares available, and Kroenke and Usmanov control 60,291 of those. Each share is worth approximately £15,000, so the market for the available shares is fairly limited.

Arsenal tried to combat this a few years back by introducing what they called the Arsenal Fanshare Scheme; as a member, you'd invest a minimum of £10 a month, and when the Scheme had enough to buy a full share, it would do so and split that share into Fanshares, which were 1/1000 of that share.  So, each Fanshare cost approximately £15; once a full share was bought, you as a member would get as many Fanshares as you had multiples of £15 in your account. Any individual reaching 1,000 Fanshares would get full voting rights as a shareholder and a place at the AGM.

Arsenal thought that this would be a good way to keep the club at least partially connected to the fans; unfortunately, the extremely static market for Arsenal shares has proven too much for the Scheme, which couldn't overcome the costs of running itself with the income it was generating. So, effective immediately, the Scheme is closing down.  Unfortunately, this leaves current members in a bit of a bind; they can neither withdraw their cash or redeem their Fanshares until the board decides how to officially wind things up.

I'm not sure how much of a real-world effect this will have; it doesn't seem like the Fanshare concept was all that successful, and I'm not sure it accomplished the goal of keeping the fans involved in the club's daily operations.  Still, it's too bad that something like this didn't work out; it remains to be seen how or if Arsenal, or any club, will try to integrate fans into the running of the club in the future.