FOOTBALL fans could be given first right of refusal to buy their clubs under plans being put forward by the Scottish Green Party.

The party's sport spokeswoman, Alison Johnstone, said fans' trusts were "most likely to be the most responsible and most successful owners for their clubs in the long term". She added that clubs such as Bayern Munich in Germany and Malmo in Sweden showed how well fan ownership could work.

The Green Party wants the right-to-buy principle that was established during rural land reforms to be extended to help supporters of football clubs to buy them.

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The Scottish Government's Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill already sets out plans to expand the community right to buy, with Ms Johnstone bringing forward amendments to the Bill. The party also plans measures to empower fans' trusts, including giving them the first right of refusal if their club comes up for sale, and making them eligible for funding support from the Scottish Government

Ms Johnstone said: "Too many Scottish football fans have gone through painful cycles of boom and bust at their clubs, where irresponsible owners run up unsustainable debts in the pursuit of short-term glory, or even simply fail to pay their taxes.

"Hearts, Rangers and Dunfermline supporters are just the most recent to have been put through the wringer. Enough is enough."

Supporters Direct Scotland, which promotes fans' involvement and community ownership for clubs, welcomed the proposals. Its head, Paul Goodwin, said: "We are working with Annan Athletic, Ayr United and Motherwell, which demonstrates a new dawn for Scottish football."