Alison Johnstone: Fans should have buying rights

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The new football season is here, and follows an amazing summer of sport.

We had the thrills and spills of the World Cup, followed by massive Scottish success at the Commonwealth Games. We sports fans are on a high.

But the return of football as the dominant sport in the media is already bringing us back to earth with a bump. Once more fans are strapping themselves in for a bumpy ride, and I’m talking about off the pitch.

The cycle of boom and bust in our national game has got to stop. Look at Rangers. Just when fans thought things were starting to turn the corner, they hear the club has to raise a cool £30 million over the next three years.

Over the past year I’ve been drawing up plans to give football fans the right to buy their clubs.

Giving fans the power to take on their clubs, not just when they go into administration but at any time for a fair price, will show that the Scottish Parliament believes that fans are the best custodians of the clubs they love.

I’ve now submitted a consultation response to Holyrood’s local government and regeneration committee, which is about to consider the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Bill.

My aim is to use the Bill to broaden the 2003 Land Reform Act to include intangible community assets, not just land.

This would help people take on and run vital services including the likes of pubs, cinemas, transport and, yes, football clubs that are often at the heart of a community’s identity and culture.

Scottish ministers have set up a working group to look at the issue but it will report after the legislation has been considered.

That’s why I’m putting forward changes to the Bill now.

I’ve asked fan trusts in Scotland to make their views known. We know there’s overwhelming public support for the idea.

As the Bill makes its way through the parliamentary process I will keep up the effort to put fans first.

Alison Johnstone is the Green MSP for Lothian. Her campaign can be followed on Twitter at @putfansfirst