The precarious financial status of Portsmouth, along with frequent headlines about mounting debts at Manchester United and Liverpool have created a scenario in which Britain’s trailing-in-the-polls Gordon Brown & colleagues are proposing greater regulations over ownership in the Football League. Free market be damned, it would be worth watching Tom Hicks choke on a hot dog were someone to read this to him. From the Guardian’s Owen Gibson :

It is believed that No 10, which has been working secretly on the plans for weeks, has resolved to deliver concrete proposals to tackle growing public disquiet at the level of debt carried by some clubs, the ownership model of others and the dysfunctional structure of the Football Association.

The plans include:

¢ Requiring clubs to hand a stake of up to 25% to fans in recognition of their links with their local community.

¢ Implementing a change-of-control clause that would allow fans a window to put together a takeover of their club if it was up for sale or went into administration.

¢ Giving the football authorities a deadline to reform the FA and remove “vested interests” from the board, and streamline decision making.

¢ Introducing a unified system of governance that co-ordinates issues such as club ownership and youth development.

¢ Allowing professional leagues and the FA additional oversight of club takeovers.

While the government will reiterate that it has no desire to regulate football directly, the prime minister believes the democratisation of football club ownership taps into wider themes about the “mutualisation” of public services and the need for regulatory reform.