Modern football has evolved tremendously compared to the start of the new millennium: football clubs started getting listed in international stock markets, salaries and transfer free increased dramatically although the world was enduring with the financial crisis and, to facilitate this capital growth, match-day and broadcasting rights revenues filled the accounts of clubs all over the world and contributed in “financializing” football. Multinational Corporations were well aware of the potential economic benefits they could extrapolate from this situation and slowly started buying small shares of internationally renowned football clubs in order to be publicly associated with them. All of this drastically changed as wealthy owners opted to purchase entire football teams. The prime example of this is Red Bull: The Austrian energy drink company opted to purchase the official rights from SV Austria Salzburg in 2005, following that they undertook an investment in America where they founded the New York Redbulls (as a spinoff of the New York Metrostars) and finally inserted themselves in the more established German football industry with the establishment of RB Leipzig. Numerous stakeholders in the sports sector were incredibly upset at these financial innovations: they essentially eliminated the beauty of the world’s most famous sport, eroding tradition, passion and culture and not taking into consideration the history and the association of the club with its fans and citizens. The more fervent fans of SV Austria Salzburg were particularly appalled by this change and decided to take drastic measures: they formed a completely fan-dependent club under the original name of SV Austria Salzburg and decided to carry on their passion that way.
Similar exacting reactions were undertaken by two other fan bases, respectively in Wimbledon and Manchester. The former decided to establish AFC Wimbledon following the relocation of their beloved Wimbledon F.C. in Milton Keynes (for other financial reasons), whilst the latter were against the takeover by some American businessmen and ultimately opted to form an independent fan base club. These unique teams have very similar values and characteristics but altering histories and you will soon see why.
Founded in 2002 following the movement spurred by financial reasons to Milton Keynes, a town 56 miles away from the Wimbledon, the English tier side are definitely one of the most successful recently founded teams in modern football. Starting at the bottom of the English Football League (9th tier) they were able to promote six times throughout the thirteen seasons they competed in, taking them back to League One professional football levels following the win in League Two playoffs in the season 2015/2016. The formation of the club was spurred by the football tradition and passion rooted in Wimbledon that is not something transitory: it does not move and has its own place in the outskirts of London. The fans were incredibly displeased with the decision and were hopeful in their idea of restarting their beloved football club’s adventure in their own neighborhood. Little did they know that just thirteen years later they would be in the same league as their affiliated team MK Dons. In the current season AFC Wimbledon is doing relatively well in League One, considering they are one of the freshly promoted teams and are standing above their financial rivals in the table. A prime example of how tradition, passion and culture may not succumb to financial objectives.
SV Austria Salzburg
The old-new Austrian club was re-founded in 2005, after Red Bull had completed the purchase of the original SV Austria Salzburg team and had replenished all its unique football traditions. They started their independent campaign in 2006-2007 and fought hardly to come back in the First League (second tier of Austrian Football) in 2015-2016 only to see themselves relegated once more as the club faced bankruptcy following an immense increase in budget due to the professional level jump. SV Austria Salzburg was one of the more successful clubs in Austria prior to the Red Bull acquisition and was internationally renowned as they participated several times in the Champions League and Europa League (UEFA Cup). Its diehard fans were not discouraged once they found out they had to start from the bottom of Austrian Football and continuously passionately supported their players until everything culminated last season. Nevertheless, the strength of these types of clubs is the unity brought by tradition and football culture, which will always be greater than any possible financial investment that brings drastic change and inconsideration for football conventions.
FC United of Manchester
Another prime exponent of our FFC’s is FC United of Manchester, a fan-based team detachment from the original and historical Manchester United. Part of its more committed and traditional fans were fully against the American takeover back in 2005 and decided to form their own club, following the footsteps of other fan-based teams. Starting at the tenth division in English Football they gradually made their way up quickly and are now veterans in the National League Football until they were able to promote to the National League North in 2015-2016. This passion fueled club aims to bring back traditional football culture in Manchester where, nowadays, money, marketing and financial stability seems to be more important than anything else.