by • February 15, 2014 • Blog from BerlinComments (4)1576

I don’t know about you, but since the latest capitulation against the Mackems, I’ve been FC Schalke 04 - Montpellier HSCfeeling even more distanced from this club and the players who represent it. In fact, the more I think about the fans relationship with the club, the sicker it seems to be.

Newcastle United is a business. It was formed as a business, and Mike Ashley bought it as a business.

Admittedly, the business is in the area of sports entertainment, but it is still a company with the same profit goals as any other. And you don’t see people with a Greggs tattoo. Well, a quick google search didn’t show any at least… You don’t see people buying a season ticket for Fenwick’s window, or going down the club with their mates to watch Barclays perform.

Obviously, the business needs a certain level of support to succeed financially, but as has been made abundantly clear in the last few issues of the fanzine, the club rely less and less on people walking through the door (so to speak), and more and more on television money. As we’ve seen, once a team is aboard the Premier League gravy train, with prudent financial management, clubs do not need to rely on the size of their home gates (see Bolton, Wigan, etc). And Mike Ashley is certainly running the company on a prudent basis.

Of what the fans actually contribute through the club, the gate money goes into the club, sure. But what about the rest? Merchandise? From my understanding, the online shop is an extension of Sports Direct, so the money would go there. A pint and a pie in the stadium? Goes to the catering company.

So, the money we as fans give to the club, doesn’t actually all go into the club. And the money that does stay there is a fraction of the real income.

We’re not as important as we think we are. Sadly.

If the fans stopped turning up tomorrow, I doubt Ashley would really feel it. It may hurt him in his pocket somewhat, but he still owns the club, and all the other millions that come through it. At the lower levels, this would have an impact. At this level, no.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the situation is different in Germany.

I don’t want to be accused of a German bias, because a) I certainly don’t have one, and b) Germany has its own problems with the game (fan behaviour, for example). But, anyway, in Germany, the clubs were not founded as businesses. They were founded as sporting organisations – members paid their dues and exercised together. In fact, the clubs did not become professional until the 1960s (off the top of my head).

Because of this, they have a stronger bond to their local community, and by empowering the fans with representation and elections, there is a much more healthy relationship between the clubs and their fans, even those with a large degree of outside investment (so, Dortmund and Bayern, for example).

Sure, this relationship has its downsides, such as the lack of capital for player investment (Bayern aside), and the fact that the fans/members apathy can lead to compromise candidates running the clubs, but the bond is there.

And that, for me, is what we need.

I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna win anything in our lifetimes, So we should at least have a mutual relationship with our clubs, not the current situation.



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4 Responses to true faith : ICH BIN EIN BERLINER

  1. MarkyMark says:

    They weren’t founded as businesses in the UK either, strictly speaking – FA Rule 34 meant they were not for profit, i.e. the directors were not allowed to paid, and dividends had very strict controls from the FA. Like so much in this country, football sold its soul to profiteering in the 80s, with the floatation of Spurs. A reinstatement of Rule 34 is what is needed – it would chase carpetbaggers like Ashley out of the sport.

  2. mikey says:

    Good article.

    I get sick of the fans who just say ‘couldn’t happen here’ “never going to happen”. Well it won;t bloody happen if everyone thinks it won’t.

    I’d much prefer fan ownership even if it meant we had no chance of a massive injection of cash from a billionaire. Because that is all we are waiting for, and when that does happen it always seems that the soul gets drained further out the club. I remember young man city kids, bairns really, wearing gold chain dollar signs when they were took over. that’s not football.

    As you say, we’re not winning anything for along time, but fan ownership will give us some self respect, some say in ticket pricing, campaign for safe standing, singing ends (that don;t get broken up out of spite.

    Its not that we want to pick who we sign or manage the actual finances, fan owned clubs are still run as proper organisations, but we’d have our club back, and with the backing we have and some stability, with all the money going back into the club, you can bet we would be trying to get cab aye to stay rather than flogging him for a quick buck.

    Short term profit making is what ashley is about. Its disruptive, even if it is financially successful for him. Us running the club would have us looking at long term stability, success and pride.

    I think we need to keep this dream alive

    • Neil says:

      Amen Mikey. Just read David X Smith’s article in the last True Faith, and it makes some good points about this. I don’t think it’s unachievable, by any means, but would be a lot of hard work by a small committed core