Platini backs fans owning stakes in clubs

BRUSSELS - UEFA president Michel Platini said on Monday he supported a plan to allow fans to buy stakes in their teams because supporters were the only people who had a genuine 'identity' with clubs.

The support of European football's governing body could boost a plan from Britain's ruling Labour Party to give fans a bigger say in how their clubs are managed.

According to the plan in the Labour Party's manifesto, fans could take up to a 25 percent stake in a club to ease concerns over increasing levels of debt of Premier League clubs and foreign ownership, the Guardian newspaper reported.

"Personally, I think it is a great idea... that the supporters invest in a club because they at the end of the day defend the club's identity," Platini told a news conference in Brussels.

"They (the fans) are always there. They are always watching the games," he added.

Platini said the decision over who can buy a club and how should be made by national governments, adding that he liked the Spanish system where, for example, Barcelona and Real Madrid are owned by fan groups known as socios.

"There are clubs now where the president is not a national of the country, the coach is not of a national of the country and the players are not nationals of the country. The only ones to have any kind of identity are the supporters," he said.

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