One rainy day last autumn the playwright and actor Patrick Marber went home to his wife and said: “I have some bad news.” Marber, who wrote the Hollywood hit Closer and first made his name in comedy alongside Steve Coogan, had succumbed to a contagion now spreading across Britain. “I’d got involved,” he explains. As the wife of a writer who had dissected the dark urges of gamblers in his play Dealer’s Choice, the actress Debra Gillett must have braced herself for a grim confession. What Marber had discovered was the thrill of local non-League football. His enthusiasm for Lewes in East Sussex was to help add another name to the growing legion of community-owned clubs. At the symbolic pinnacle of supporter power stand Barcelona: a non-profit making Catalan association of 180,000 members, 53,000 of whom voted in this year’s presidential elections. In Germany most Bundesliga clubs are owned by their supporters. In the Premier League free-for-all that has treated us to Thaksin Shinawatra, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and the Portsmouth scandal, extreme laissez-faire economics are the context to a shift lower down to co-operative ownership of the sort embraced by Marber and Lewes, who drew an attendance of… Read full this story
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