The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals throws its support behind United for Macarthur’s bid to be the next A-League football team.

“The United for Macarthur’s bid is for a community-based and owned club in a co-operative model – one member, one vote. The BCCM has championed this successful model of sports ownership to be taken up in Australia for the past five years,” said Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM).

Co-operative ownership of sporting teams is used worldwide and supporter trusts have revived fiscally insecure clubs. “Some the most successful sporting clubs in the US and Europe such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and the NFL’s Green Bay Packers use co-operative ownership,” said Ms Morrison. “The co-operative model can secure sustainability for Australian A-League football: many sporting clubs in the competitive British football scene faced closure before introducing member ownership for their fans.”

The United for Macarthur’s community-owned model will mean that local players are properly supported and developed, said Ms Morrison. “The Bundesliga, German’s top flight football league’s famous 50+1 ownership rule means members are in control at nearly every club. The national team became world champions in 2014 because they develop young players, amateurs and academies.”

The co-operative model would benefit fast-growing South-Western Sydney, projected to become home to near 1 million people under the NSW Government Three Cities Strategy. “The co-operative difference also means that donations, sponsorships and surplus funds flow back into the local community,” said Ms Morrison. “Ernst & Young’s Sticky Money report estimates for every dollar spent with a regional co-operative, 76 cents is reinvested into the local community.”

Member ownership is strongly embedded in AFL, and other Australian sporting codes have noted its potential. The majority of AFL clubs are owned by their members, particularly the core Victorian clubs. Members guarantee vocal supporters on the grounds and provide critical financial support, both directly via payments and indirectly via sponsor attention.

“Community ownership can turbo-charge the turnstile because it creates a meaningful relationship of ownership between the fans and the club. That’s a great way to get a sustainable business model as well as a code that is grounded in values of the local community,” said Morrison.

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