an interview with professional club executive peter wilt

If you were to survey supporters groups from clubs around the globe about their biggest gripe with their clubs, I’d be willing to wager that the leading complaint would be that there isn’t enough communication between themselves and the club’s executives. Take a walk around the American soccer landscape, and you’re bound to hear it too. And while there might be other popular gripes — such as ticket prices or on-field management — the avenue for the fans to have those complaints heard often isn’t even there to begin with.

Peter Wilt of Indy Eleven

while i’m not really the reporter interviewing indy eleven president and GM peter wilt in this picture, i did speak with him on a variety of topics.

So when you see clubs that actively engage with their fans, asking them their opinions and looking for input on a variety of club matters, it’s usually applauded far and wide. The close relationships that exist between club and fans in Orlando, Seattle and Philadelphia are well-known, but until rather recently, were far from the norm. But the lessons learned in those markets isn’t falling on deaf ears, and more and more clubs are slowly starting to reap the benefits of working closely with their most ardent fans to help grow the team’s popularity and stature. But where did the idea come from in the fist place?

The man many would pin as the pioneer of this emerging trend in American soccer: Peter J. Wilt.

Best known as former president and general manager of the Chicago Fire, Wilt has attained legendary status for the transparency with which he runs his clubs and the open communication channels he holds with supporters. A frequent participant in discussions on fan message boards and an ardent Tweet-a-holic, there’s arguably no other executive in American soccer that the average fan has an easier time gaining an audience with.

Case in point? After recently launching the successful bid to make Indy Eleven the latest franchise to join the rapidly growing NASL, I reached out to Peter to see if he might be interested in an interview. He accepted my request in less than five minutes.

So with the Milwaukee native’s ear at my disposal, I asked Peter to dish on his plans for the newly formed Indy Eleven, the state of the game in North America, and even on his hopes for the beer that will be available at the club’s future matches.

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ten words or less #72

What a week it was for football.

it was such a scintillating week of soccer that it literally caused the crew’s scoreboard to burst into flames.

Spain, long the kings of European club and international soccer, was humbled over the course of two nights in Germany. The shock waves of the thorough beatings received by Barcelona and Real Madrid are still reverberating a week later as we head into the return ties in Spain. Meanwhile, the Premier League saw not only a champion named, but also two sides doomed to relegation. The race for the top four in England also remains interesting, with Spurs and Arsenal seemingly trying to trip out of each others’ way nail down the last slot. The Columbus Crew’s scoreboard caught on fire shortly before its team did in a 3 goal victory over DC United for the Black and Gold. And the biggest news? scored a hat trick in my coed indoor match midweek. Earth-shattering stuff, right?

So with all of the madness that went down last week, it would have been easy to miss an interesting story or two along the way. As we edge our way towards yet another week guaranteed to be full of even more twists and turns, have a read through some of the best content I gleaned from the web over the last week that might have gone under the radar.

An infographic explaining the NASL’s new Indy Eleven‘s name. – indyeleven.com

One small step for Pittsburgh, one giant leap for USSoccer. – theshinguardian.com

Meanwhile in Sweden, they’re paving over pitches. – whoateallthepies.tv

So Blackburn should be in the Champions League final, right? - espnfc.com

My future child will have a ball in its crib. – si.com

Honestly, I’d have a hard time fairly judging a Gooner. – guardian.co.uk

Nike have something crazy in store for us. – soccerbible.com

Bravo, Dirty Tackle: a marvelous bit on the Suárez bite. – dirtytackle.net

College athletics losing it’s luster… and not just in soccer. – sbnation.com

Though he’s bat shit crazy these days, nothing but respect. – youtube.com

all tomorrow’s parties

This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for the acclaimed In Bed With Maradona, an award winning collective voice of some of the world’s best football writers, bloggers, journalists, photographers and artists with more than two million readers. If football is involved, IBWM is there. To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

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what came first: the supporter or the club?

It’s often said that the lifeblood of a soccer club is its supporters. Without them a club is nothing. The most easily recognized aspect of fans’ importance lies in their support of the club: motivating the players with their enthusiasm, cheering and song. They give their clubs personality and culture.

In a more basic sense, supporters enable the club to exist. They provide a revenue stream with which the club pays its players. From ticket and merchandise sales, to sponsorship dollars paid by companies hoping to capitalize on the legions of devotees already known for brand loyalty, fans are a club’s most valuable capital. Without them, they could never pay the bills.

But is this dependence two-way; can supporters exist without clubs?

When it comes to European clubs and their analogous supporters groups — many with century-long relationships — determining which came first is quite the chicken or the egg debate. Were there fans of football before the club, or were fans drawn to a side already assembled? While someone undoubtedly knows the answer to that question when it comes to Europe, I don’t.However, the great thing about being in America at this point in our country’s football evolution — where most clubs and their supporters’ histories only stretch back a little over a decade — is that we’ve been able to watch that answer unfold before us. So, in the US at least, which came first: the soccer club or the supporters groups?

Continue reading “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on IBWM. →