Labour promotes fan ownership of clubs

BIRMINGHAM - Britain's ruling Labour Party wants to make it easier for supporters' groups to buy stakes in the country's football teams if it wins an election next month.

The plan is contained in a short section of the party's election manifesto launched on Monday by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself a shareholder in Scottish club Raith Rovers.

"Sports governing bodies will be empowered to scrutinise takeovers of clubs, ensuring they are in the long-term interests of the club and the sport," the manifesto said.

"We will develop proposals to enable registered Supporters Trusts to buy stakes in their club," it added.

The financing of Britain's professional football clubs has become a contentious issue with some supporters angry over the debt-financed takeover of top teams like Manchester United.

Premier league Portsmouth and second-tier Crystal Palace have both gone into administration this season after running short of cash.

The Red Knights, a collection of wealthy financial figures including former Football League chairman Keith Harris and Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill, want to take over English champions Manchester United.

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