THE UK Government has ordered a fan-led, root and branch review of football governance following the European Super League debacle.
And one proposal that could be looked at in the wake of the failed scheme is the German 50+1 fan ownership system.
Here, SunSport takes a look at how it works and whether it could be introduced in England.
What is 50+1?
The 50+1 rule means that every club that wants to compete in the German Football League must be 50 per cent owned by the fans, with the fans having the casting vote on all initiatives.
Football clubs are not allowed to play in the Bundesliga if a private company or individual has more than a 50 per cent stake.
German clubs were historically non-for-profit members organisations with private ownership of any kind prohibited, but in 1998 50+1 was introduced as a way for clubs to secure some private funding.
The Bundesliga claims this rule is responsible for keeping wages and debts at its club under control and ticket prices low.
Bundesliga attendances are among the highest in Europe, with Borussia Dortmund recording the largest average attendance on the continent in 2016-17 and Bayern Munich the third largest.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said of the system: “The German spectator traditionally has close ties with his club.
“And if he gets the feeling that he’s no longer regarded as a fan but instead as a customer, we’ll have a problem.
“The 50+1 rule does significantly more good than harm in Germany.
“Most clubs won’t get a Roman Abramovich, who in the first place wants to see Chelsea winning.
“Most of the investors want to earn money. And where do they get it from? The spectators.”
Are all German clubs fan-owned?
Though the 50+1 rule is a rigid one, there are a small number of exceptions.
Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, who were formed by Volkswagen and Bayer pharmaceuticals respectively, are not subject to 50+1.
Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hoff is also allowed to own his club outright after investing consistently in it for over 20 years, but he is greeted with hostility by supporters of the other Bundesliga clubs.
A similar bid by Martin Kind to take full control of Hannover, however, was defeated due to fan opposition.
Most controversial though, has been RB Leipzig, who found a way to comply with the letter of the law but not the spirit.
In 2009, Red Bull purchased fifth tier SSV Markranstadt who, as a non-league club, did not have to follow 50+1.
Once they were promoted to the league system, Leipzig allowed just 17 people to join the club as members, most of whom were employees or associates of Red Bull.
Supporters can only join as non-voting members and even that membership is priced at a prohibitive one thousand euros per year.
Will 50+1 be introduced in England?
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed that the government is looking at 50+1 as a model for English football.
He told talkSPORT: “Naturally we’ve got to learn the lessons from the crisis in football financing during the Covid crisis.
“We need to put this on a more sustainable footing.
“For example in the German leagues they have a different governance structure so it’s right we look at those things.
“The PM was good, I had a meeting with him and fans on Tuesday and he said we had to do whatever it took and that includes legislation and if legislation is required we’ll do that.
“But the immediate legislation we were preparing to pull together was to deal with this immediate threat from this outrageous [Super League] proposal.”
And Boris Johnson has stated that a ‘root-and-branch investigation’ will be overseen by former sports minister Tracey Crouch to review English football’s governance and to ‘promote the role of fans in that governance’.
It is not known how and whether the government would be able to strip Premier League owners of 50 per cent shares of their clubs if the initiative were to be brought in, however.
And decision on football club ownership in England is likely to depend on the findings of Tracey Crouch’s review.