"New car, caviar, four star daydream, I think I'll buy me a football team." Those of us listening to rock radio in the mid-1970s heard Pink Floyd sing that line in their lamenting ode to wealth: "Money" from the Dark Side Of The Moon album.
It was never clear to me as a teenager why anyone would want to buy an NFL team. As a sports fan in the United States, my relationship to the team I root for is detached from the actual club itself. It was a lyric that rhymed well, but didn't mean as much to me as the buying a new car or caviar (items that more effectively reflected wealth, in my young mind).
It was more than twenty-five years before I learned that David Gilmour was singing about a soccer team, not a football team; and that in England, people were passionately related and connected to their team. Some fan clubs have a seat at the board meetings, regular guys like you and me own shares of the club, and people take the management of their team very personally.
I can't imagine any team in the United States ever allowing their fans to be involved with the running of the team, the decision-making process, or the strategic planning. Our leagues are franchise-based. They are guaranteed a share of the league's overall profits, even if they stink. And if a team finishes last, year after year after year, there is no penalty. The team just limps along with the owners reaping millions in income and the fans becoming long-suffering consumers of a product with no quality control. (Remember the Montreal Expos?)
It's a different story in the rest of the world.
Soccer clubs are valuable possessions. English clubs are so valuable, and in such high demand, that American businessmen are now controlling- or partial-owners of three of the top clubs in the English Premier League, and Arabian businessmen and sheikhs own some others.
We can all purchase shares of a club on the open market. If I remember correctly, the last time a move was made for a controlling interest in North London's Arsenal Football Club, shares were selling for $35,000. For one share.
The top clubs in Europe are pretty valuable:
$1,864,000,000 Manchester United
$1,451,000,000 Real Madrid
$1,048,000,000 Bayern Munich
$ 975,000,000 Barcelona
Although I have learned about the stock market and learned how to trade, it never entered my mind to consider shares of a sports team.
Then a friend told me about the Five Pound Football Club (FPFC), an international collection of sports fans that each send five quid to the club and the FPFC would invest in a team willing to give us a seat at the table.
The founders of the FPFC believed that the collective wisdom, knowledge and enthusiasm of a group of fans could help a team in the lower leagues.
So, for eight bucks ($7.93, to be precise), I hooked my boat to a dream, and became an owner of Monmouth Town Football Club:
Our Five Pound Football Club community is a passionate group of football fans from around the globe that believe their pooled resources, knowledge and enthusiasm can help to develop a successful, sustainable club.My team is doing very well this year and will likely be promoted to the next higher league next season. I will not take time to explain the nuances of promotion and relegation in international team sports, but in a nutshell: if you are really good, you get moved up to the next higher league and make more money. If you are really bad, you are bumped down to the next lower league and make less money. There is a real incentive to not stink.
See, Online Five Pound Football Club community to invest in Monmouth Town
The other owners of the club have embraced our ownership and this Saturday is Five Pound Football day at the team's match against Newport.
Since I will not be in Wales this weekend, I can't attend. But, if you are in the area, perhaps you'd like to check out my team and let me know what you think. If you can make it, here's some handy directions:
The postcode is NP25 3. Exit the A40 at the tunnels and follow the B4293 (Cinderhill Street) towards the town centre. Turn right to the bridge over the River Monnow, continuing on the B4293, and take the second exit onto Blestium Street. Monmouth Sports Ground will be immediately on your right, opposite Waitrose.
Let them know Dick Mac sent you!
Go you Kingfishers!