Argentine clubs to vote on allowing outside investment

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's top soccer teams will vote next month on whether to change their ownership rules and allow clubs to be opened up to outside investment, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Thursday.

The vote to change the rules will be put to a ballot on Nov. 29 and would allow both local and foreign investors to sink money into clubs, much like in Europe and other South American countries.

Teams like Boca Juniors, River Plate and San Lorenzo are presently run like social clubs owned by fans and members who pay a monthly fee.

The ownership model gives fans a say in the running of the club by electing the president and other officials but inhibits investment and has led many of the top teams to wrack up massive debts.

"We need to have this debate because this is a reality we're living in," AFA President Claudio Tapia said in announcing the controversial measure. "For some it's a necessity, for others it is not."

The move comes with the backing of the Argentina's reformist president Mauricio Macri, who was himself president of Boca Juniors between 1995 and 2008.

Although Boca support the change, a host of other top sides that include River Plate, Racing, Independiente and Velez Sarsfield have expressed opposition to the proposals.

Representatives from 22 first Division clubs and 21 provincial sides in lower divisions have been invited to vote on the issue at the November forum.

"If the clubs want to incorporate themselves as a Plc then they shouldn't be prohibited from doing so," Fernando Marin, an official with the Argentine president's office, told Reuters.

"It's more transparent."

(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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