Most fans believe they know what is best for their club. We’re the ones who live and breathe it after all. But did you know that there is a small but ambitious club in England that lets the fans manage the club?
We’re not talking a fan owned club where members are elected to the board. We mean YOU, the fan, gets to pick the team that steps onto the field each week.
The idea was the brain child of Mark North, a long-suffering West Ham and England fan who came up with the idea whilst Sam Allardyce was managing the Irons and Roy Hodgson was in charge of the Three Lions.
"I'm not a glory hunting fan who switches allegiances when things go wrong but I was also very unhappy at some of the decisions being made by the managers of the teams I follow," says Mark. "Why was the manager picking certain players when fans I speak to wouldn’t pick them? Roy’s decision to take Jack Wilshire over Danny Drinkwater to Euro 2016 being a prime example. I see poll after poll on social media and thought, forget polls. I’m going to create something that puts fans in the dugout. United London was born."
In January 2016 Mark quit his job and decided to follow a dream. He managed to convince a friend of the family to invest a small sum to build a basic WordPress website to allow voting and he then set about building up a coaching team, recruiting players, dealing with social media, press, the FA and everything else needed to run a club.
"It was a steep learning curve as I was never a good player and had never even run a Sunday team before but I wanted to build a club for the fans so this was the viewpoint in which I see everything," he continues.
The club is now in its second season and competes in the Essex Alliance Premier Division and was so popular that it has now expanded to include a reserve team.
They have completely scrapped the original website and have rebuilt it with technology found in Champions League clubs. Now, player data is collected as the game happens and you can view it in real time on the website’s Match Day Centre via desktop, tablet or mobile device.
Not only that but as you pick your team, you automatically collect points depending on how the players you chose are playing, just as you do in fantasy football. This really is fantasy football come to life.
"The website has re-launched and for the moment you can only vote on a desktop or tablet, but we plan to launch apps for iPhones and Androids in the coming weeks so that everyone can join in no matter where you are in the world," says Mark.
Imagine helping to manage a real team on your way to work, on the loo or in between courses.
When the app launches you will even be able to "Show Some Balls" by setting up weekly challenges with your friends, family and colleagues to see who is the better manager by betting balls that you can earn in the app, all just for fun.
We asked if this was the start of a gambling app? "No, we just want football fans of all ages to get behind a grassroots football club, back our players who are all good lads who just want to play good football and have some fun," insists the founder. "It is 100% free to join in, no in-app purchases or anything like that. We’d just ask you to give it a try for a few weeks, watch the videos we create (about three-four a week), give us your feedback on what you would like to see more of and have some fun with it."
There you have it, why not take Football Manager to the next level?
You can find out more about United London by visiting the club website.