Member owned soccer clubs aren’t a new thing in the world, in fact if you did a look online you’d see many in Europe. It’s a relatively new thing here in the States. One such club is National Premier Soccer League’s Nashville FC. NPSL is an amateur league, and if we had a pyramid, it would be our fourth division. But lets not open that can of worms. Stephen Brandt sat down with Chris Jones the president of the club. He answered my ten questions.
We started out with the birth of the club. Well, that could take a while haha. Long story short, I was originally inspired by FC United of Manchester. For those fans to walk away from a club like Manchester United, was a powerful statement and really resonated with me. From there, it started with a simple tweet asking if anyone would be interested in starting a supporter- funded club here in Nashville. There were a few guys that immediately said yes and from there it took off. It’s really insane how far we’ve came in just a little over a year and to be honest we kind of pieced it together as we went.
As we said in the beginning there are few clubs that are supporter owned, why did you go through with that, and what’s the advantage of that? Well, at the time it felt as if the local soccer community, although strong, was splintered. And I figured what better way to bring everyone together than to work toward a common goal. Also, Nashville prides itself in being unique and supporter funded is about as unique as it gets here in the states.
Like with any club you want to develop youth teams, here’s what Chris said: The soccer scene today in Nashville is light years ahead of where it was just 5, 10 years ago…which is the case from coast to coast I’m sure. There is some really good young talent here and some strong youth clubs in the middle Tennessee area. Nashville is on the rise…
A common fallacy of people thinking on the support of soccer is the relationship of the club to other teams. Nashville is like any big town in North America, there’s many other sports in the towns, like the NHL. The Nashville Predators for example have been amazing to us. We have done cross promotions in which every single kid in our youth program/s got s free Preds game ticket and every Nashville FC member did as well. They are doing a Nashville FC night next month allowing us to setup at the front of their Arena to promote our brand…we can’t thank them enough.
Supporter culture is big in the States, like it is in Europe, and Newcastle, so Nashville Fc has a lot going for it. You already have a fan group, social networking, and a podcast, when you guys started all of this, did you think it would be this big this fast? No! haha When we started out, we had a 3yr plan just to get accepted to the NPSL…so to sit here and act like this isn’t a dream come true would be a lie. And their online merch has gone world wide You sell your stuff online like most clubs do, where’s the strangest, or most out there place you’ve heard of your gear being seen at? Good question…a few that come to mind are Poland, Hong Kong and Brazil.
An issue that has arose in the sport is the detactment of the administration from the fans, not with with Nashville, Al ot of clubs have people in your position, who stay away from media, social networking, and the fans, but NAshville FC as a whole gets out in the public, is that down to the people you’ve hired, or being a part of the club? I think it goes back to, we (the board) are the fans too…we are members…we like to stand in the bleachers, drink a beer and cheer on NFC too. We are not your avg group of front office type people haha.
And finally I wanted to ask him about the future. 10 years from now, when we talk about Nashville FC, what are we saying? Open Cup champs? How high is the limit for the club? We truly believe that our soccer community can and will build the greatest club in US history and if we continue to grow our membership base, the sky is the limit. Our main concern is making sure we put a great product on the field and grow the local soccer community. If we do that, everything else, including trophies and moving up into other leagues, will take care of itself. Our supporters are amazing and always have our back; we just need to make sure not to let them down because they deserve the best.
They are a fun group, and a club to follow, and interact with, Chris is on twitter, the club’s supporters and the youth teams are all interactive. I recommend people when they are in the States to stop by Nashville anyway, because it’s a fun town. And with the explosion of soccer we will have great teams in the lower divisions. This isn’t even getting into the fun that is Detroit City FC in the same league.
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