2008: A FOOTBALLING DEMOCRACY

By Rob Hobson
In News
Feb 6th, 2008

High on the seas of the interactive bunfight that we call the Internet, you’ll find a project called A Swarm of Angels. In as small a nutshell as I can fit it, it’s an attempt to wrest control of the film-making process from the traditional fiefdoms of studio and marketing man.

You’ve heard of open-source software, perhaps, where a programmer writes their code then opens it up to the world to modify, play with, and use as their own. This is open-source film-making. Scripts, marketing materials… the whole caboodle: it’s all voted on. Admirable stuff.

Then there are the fans trying to run their own club. MyFootballClub.co.uk is a fan-funded project which is trying to buy, run and manage Ebbsfleet United FC as a democratic entity. The website is a little cagey as to exactly how the club will be run day-to-day: it talks about a manager implementing the wishes of the owners, but how things are put to a vote is not really mentioned. Still, in principle, a clever idea that plays on the belief in the heart of every football fan. Management? I could do that.

The reason I lust after these models of intelligent, good-natured democracy? I want to be in a position to ask Didier Drogba one simple question: what the **** is your problem?

You see, the giant from the Côte d’Ivoire has bared his soul again, and thusly has he spake: “I am not in conflict with Chelsea, which everyone thinks.” He goes on to pledge his support to Chelsea’s challenge for the title and Champions League, etc etc, blah blah. Contrary to the Mirror’s headline, there’s nothing in there specifically about staying for another season, but the paper takes these words as a profession of fidelity.

Just imagine. Imagine a world in which democratically-run clubs ordered their players to talk to the fans. Imagine if the players were forced to understand the fans’ emotional investment. Imagine if – horror of horrors – the players had to keep daily blogs. I don’t doubt that a man like Drogba – or, for that matter, a Desailly or di Canio – would welcome the chance to share their erudition with the world, although the political sentiments of the latter might require a little massaging from the fan-staffed press office. But the thought of a Rooney or a Carragher wrestling with the twin conundrums of keyboard and English language… well, we’d have to make a call on whether the entertainment value outweighed the leaden tedium of reading the thing through afterwards.

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