The Democratic Game of Football

Here at we are naturally steadfast supporters of the democratization of football. Or, more precisely put, we are for the re-democratization of football, because most football organizations were conceived as not-for-profit social venues, and this original idea has been slowly perverted in the last decades. As revenues began to grow, those in charge of the clubs started taking decisions that favored income over enjoyment.

That's one reason why we also have great respect and admiration for those teams that, in the current profit-hungry world we find ourselves, remain as always fan-owned. Luckily, there are thousands of examples of such clubs all over the world - even in the unyieldingly capitalistic view of the American sports were teams are truly corporations and swap cities in total disregard of their decades-old fanbase, one can find the Green Bay Packers, in Wisconsin, a 97-years-old team that remains the only professional team fanowned in the country.

In Europe, however much work still needs to be done, the panorama is generally more optimistic. In Portugal, for instance, all first division teams are at least 51% fan-owned, with paying members holding the right to vote for the club's president. Something similar happens in Spain, where two of the greatest football teams of all history, Real Madrid and Barcelona, still holds elections.

Germany has passed a 50+1 rule to prevent a majority control by a single entity - with some caveats and exceptions that would deserve an analysis of their own. In some other countries, such as Argentina, clubs are required by law to be not-for-profit organizations, ensuring the participation of the paying members to some extent in the direction of the club. Nevertheless, all these precautions are not always enough to ensure that teams will continue being democratic - or even fan-owned.

In the United Kingdom, one of such infamous cases was the takeover by the Glazers of Manchester United F.C. Although originally founded by rail workers, United went through a century of buyouts and acquisitions by different people, until reaching the stock market in 1991. Then began a great decade for United, with international trophies and a growing fanbase. However, from the moment when American businessman Malcolm Glazer began to buy all of Manchester United's stocks in 2005, the path to private ownership was already paved.

Sadly, the intentions of the current owner were not anymore to make United thrive as a social organization but to capitalize on his investment. In a shameless capitalist move, the club's buyout was made possible with loans taken against the same club's assets, forcing United to go into debt. To this day, the Glazers continue to exploit Manchester United for its stock value, using it like nothing more than a money bag.

Disgusted by the situation of their beloved club, several fans of Manchester United F.C. decided in 2005 to found a new club, the F.C. United of Manchester, in an attempt to return to a more democratic stance. Currently, they are the largest supporter-owned football club in the United Kingdom, with 5,000 members. Everyone has one vote on every issue, from the everyday running of the club to kit designs and ticket prices, and although the last 15 years have not been without their troubles, the club has become an example of the possibilities that fans' creativity, resolution, and passion can accomplish.

So there's still hope, and there will always be as long as there are passionate supporters, of clubs returning to the fans. We just have to get loud, and stay loud! clubs returning to the fans.

We just have to get loud, and stay loud!