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.
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?