Fanpower – how do you strike a balance?


Hot on the lips of many Arsenal fans at the moment is the impact of fan power.642-874 I’m not talking about a device to cool a summers day or an eyesore that blights the countryside, I’m talking about the stakeholders of football clubs having a genuine impact on the way football clubs are run. Should fans be given a say? Should the board listen to those less experienced than them in the world of sport? Can fan groups really have an impact in the day to day running of the clubs they so love? Well, I can talk you through a few cases of fan power and the impact it’s had. Firstly, lets talk about Newcastle. Their fans don’t
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like cockneys. Plain and simple. They also don’t like ugly football. So when the rotund cockney Mike Ashley took over at Newcastle and brought in Sam Allardyce, the Newcastle fans turned ugly. Now, fan power doesn’t have to be intelligent. In the main, it revolves around emotion, that’s how you garner support. So when the Newcastle fans demanded the return of the very fragile Kevin Keegan, you did fear for what would happen next… Well, big Kev returned, he promised massive signings on the scale of Thierry Henry, he managed to sign Collocini. His first 8 games were disappointing, then the next season, a few things went against him and the legendary manager quit once again in a huff. That season, Newcastle were relegated. Fan Power

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0 Club Power 1 Liverpool is an interesting case study with regards to fan power. They’re a club steeped in history and have always been recognised as doing things the Liverpool way. The Hicks and Gillett partnership from America came to town with much expectation. Ex-Chairman David Moore’s backed their takeover proposal over the far wealthier Arab DIC group because of the American duo’s success building new stadia. The Americans came in, funded a transfer spree out of their own cash, the recession kicked in… the stadium plans went to pot, they leveraged debt against the club

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and pretty soon the fans were on their back demanding they were outed. After much wrangling, and a very abusive e-mail from Hicks Jrto a supporters

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the two Americans were forced into selling up to John Henry (with a little help from RBS). The unassuming American came in and kept quiet about his intentions, he also kept faith with manager Roy Hodgson until he went against the fans by publicly hoping ‘fans would become supporters.’ Big mistake Roy… he parted company with Liverpool and King Kenny returned. The Liverpool legend made three bold moves in the transfer market. He sold Torres to Chelsea for £50million and bought in Carroll and Suarez. He also restored pride to the dressing room and brought back a bit of the aura to Liverpool football club. Fan Power 2 Club Power 1 The penultimate case study of my fanpower installment is about the set up at Schalke. They have a paid up membership of 94,000, they boast at least 1200 supporters groups world wide, the 6th highest gate influx a year (which is staggering considering they’ve battled relegation this year) and the club can welcome up to 2000 members of the public for training! Supporters are so ingratiated into the fabric of the club that any transfer over 300,000e can be vetoed. Felix Magath tried to over turn this

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rule and he was sacked months later after some very poor results. Fan power controls season ticket pricing and sees it kept at incredibly low levels, the club had to wrangle for months to raise the cost of a standing ticket from 12e to 15e. Season tickets go no higher than 300-400e which seems to have ramifications for the club as they’re heavily indebted. Schalke have remained loyal to their working class fanbase, but one wonders what the future holds for a club now struggling with finances that is out of contention for the gold mine of champions league football? Fan Power 1 Club Power 1 This post wouldn’t be complete without talking about Arsenal’s fanshare scheme. It’s the first fully operational version of the scheme working effectively in the country. The premise is that for a small amount a month, any fan can buy into the club and set themselves

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on the way to owning ‘fanshare.’ Once you have a Fanshare you are entitled to attend AGM’s and vote on the various resolutions, you receive the Chairman’s updates and most importantly, you have a vote on the future of the club. The idea is that if enough fans buy in, they can

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have a say in how the club is run going forward. The AST who represent the Fanshare holders attend regular meetings with the trusts memebers, agree an agenda and then try their best to influence the way the club is operating in a way that is beneficial for both the fans and the club. It helps foster a good relationship between the club and the fans, it creates transparency. It gives a voice to the fans. Its successes include influencing Arsene Wenger to pick full

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strength teams for the Carling Cup squad and it’s also resulted in a delayed announcement about season ticket price hikes… hey, maybe even a rethink! (dreams) Fanpower 1 Club power 0 Fan power and club power need to strike a balance. Involvement from the paying public needs to be tempered with objective decisions by the club. Fans of football are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the game but that can be remedied by including everyone in the decision making process and recognising that football goes beyond a simple business model. Supporters aren’t merely customers and club owners need to realise

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they are merely custodians lucky enough to run something so many dearly love.Cisco 100-101

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  1. Big Pete says:

    Fans should have all the power…one week a season they should do a fan picked team where everyone votes for the starting line up etc, now that would be fan power!

  2. Mikey says:

    Catch 22 for the clubs, it is essential that they give fans small moral victories, but that is all these are – token gestures. Fans will never have any power, they are distant from the club except on a match day. Don’t kid yourselves

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