On Sunday afternoon I sat down with two fellow West Ham United fans at my local.
Fans have always been a massive part of football.
Whether it is turning up every week to watch their beloved team play, or funding the club by buying memberships, they always seem to be there.
But supporters know a lot more about the game than people might think. If a crowd of people yell shoot, it probably is a good idea to shoot, because – in that split second that the player’s got the ball on the edge of the box – he can’t look around at every possible angle.
However, the fans, whether they’re sitting behind or around the goal, all can look different ways. This means that if they all yell for the player to shoot, it shows that they have confidence in the player to win something good out of it, whether it’s a corner or a goal.
And fans will always be there. Managers and players may come and go, but a fan will almost always know more about the club due to them being there through thick and thin.
But why don’t football clubs listen to their fans more? Is it out of pride, showing how they are paid to do their job, therefore they are smarter and know more?
How much money could clubs save if, instead of hiring managers they had scouts, fitness coaches and all the normal behind-the-scenes people, but instead of reporting to the manager, they were reporting to the fans? Fans would probably even pay to make those decisions to feel as if they were a part of the club.
But what would it look like?
Well, fans can’t make all of the decisions. The financial ones would still have to stay with the club.
Say the club needs a new winger. The club and scouts would do research, finding which ones are the best and which ones are affordable, like usual. Then the scouts would research the shortlist and put together the videos for the fans to watch.
The fans would then watch the videos and vote which ones they think would best suit the club. Then the votes would be counted and the order of the winger the club was going for would be prioritised.
They would try and get the first one, but if his wage demand was higher than what was first thought, then they would re-evaluate, using the fans.
I am a firm believer that a die-hard football fan isn’t just some crazy person who has a weird obsession with a club. To be a die-hard, it is more than saving up money each week to go to the games and to travel to away games – you have to have a love for the football club.
This would mean that, usually, a die-hard fan would still love the club even if they are losing consistently, and would want to do something to help the club, out of the team’s best interest.
So if fans were to make decisions, they would do it purely for the club, whereas a manager does it very passively as they are usually scared of losing their job.
If they are down 2-0 at half time and there is a young striker on the bench with nothing to lose, then they will most likely wait until the last five minutes before putting them on. This is because that way they can defend themselves by saying, “Well, I did put him on” while not taking the risk of looking like a complete idiot as the striker might not have a good game.
Fans would risk that, as they will always be a fan of that club and they are usually the people that a manager or head coach is most scared of.
But would putting fans in charge of their football team work?