If you want to know about football, then ask the Germans. The Chinese seem to hold the answers to modern industrial policy. And the Government remains the experts in bureaucracy and control. Perhaps these masters might give us clues to solve the tiresome riddle of what defines a social enterprise?

In any case, German football seems to know a lot about ownership. Under the Bundesliga rules, fan members must own at least 50% of the shares of a club, which makes it impossible for external investors to take control from majority fan ownership.

In China, while the laws are complex and evolving, equity joint ventures (EJVs) between foreign investors and domestic businesses have sometimes restricted the share of foreign ownership to 50%, in telecommunications, automotive manufacturing, insurance and investment management, for example. Again, the risk of ceding control to others is eliminated.

Meanwhile, accountants in the Office for National Statistics quietly classify whether organisations sit on or outside the public accounts by examining who controls an organisation - through owning more than half the voting shares, controlling more than half the voting power, or through regulation.

There is a subtle distinction here that while the Germans and the Chinese are concerned principally with ownership as the means of control, the ONS are ultimately only concerned with control, whatever form it takes. Of course ownership tends to determines control, but not always.

Karl Marx sometimes worried about the divorce of ownership and control – that ownership can be reduced to a title without function, while others take control. The ONS then, is arguably taking a more Marxist position than either the Chinese industrialists or our German sportsfreunde. For the ONS, ownership is one thing but control is key.

UnLtd’s interest in the idea of what they term “trust engines” (how can we trust that an organisation’s social purpose is primary?) reflects this recognition that ownership may not be everything. Sometimes there may be other ways of ensuring the mission stays under control.

Marx was of course famously concerned that the workers were not deprived of the fruits of their labour – which suggests an interest in what happens to profits rather than who owns or controls. So for many, what a business does with its profits will remain the money shot, and the defining feature of social enterprise. Sadly, we don’t know for sure what Marx thought of Primark or Fortnum & Mason.