I’ve been lucky enough to be a member of the 3four3 community over the past few years.
Back in 2011, Gary was kind enough to post what amounted to my first piece of published soccer writing. That first article launched my illustrious career as an obscure soccer blogger and podcaster.
These days, I’m working on something a little different.
I’m helping lead a group of passionate soccer-football folks in launching a supporter owned professional soccer club in San Francisco. We recently kicked off our membership campaign, and we’re excited to announce the project here on 3four3!
We’d be honored if you checked out the SF City project at our website, or joined us on twitter or Facebook pages. Our plan is to continue building our membership, and begin competing in the 4th division National Premier Soccer League in 2015.
The SF City project embraces the revolutionary spirit and the entrepreneurial philosophy that defines the Bay Area.
Not only are we building this club as a community organization from the beginning, through our supporter ownership structure we will ensure that our supporters and football community have a legitimate stake in the management and growth of the Club.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban describes the ideal live sports experience as akin to a great wedding:
The feeling of some magic that grows from the right mix of love, atmosphere, and art.
It’s an apt comparison for a feeling football supporters have long embraced but can easily escape description.
Because the reality is, while great football is art worth watching, the atmosphere created by the supporters can expand the experience to something different. Not just a competition or performance that lacks meaning after 90 minutes are over, but something that can’t quite be described or maybe even comprehended.
Something that stays with us long after the match is over and keeps us thinking towards the next match, the next opportunity to express the joy of life, art, and football with our friends, family, and community; The commitment of organizing around something we believe in and giving our best so that, even if we don’t win, we know we took a risk and put ourselves out there to try to make something beautiful and worthwhile.
It is a challenge worth taking and, in fact, we have some catching up to do. Lower division (non-MLS) clubs across the country are already building wildly successful clubs upon the symbiotic relationship between community supporters and football club.
The match support for these clubs is cause for celebration, drawing anywhere from 2,000-5,000 devoted supporters per game at the Fourth Division in places like Detroit, Nashville and Chattanooga, and close to 20,000 supporters per game up the road in Sacramento for the Third Division Sacramento Republic.
In fact, a recent Chattanooga FC (NPSL 4th Division) US Open Cup home game outdrew the MLS Chivas USA home game played on the same night.
The enthusiasm, commitment, and organization of these supporter groups rivals that of the Timbers Army (MLS’ Portland Timbers) or even longstanding European and South American supporter groups.
It’s authentic, dynamic, and a little messy. It’s also wildly inspiring and creating the future of American football.
We’ve set out in the San Francisco Football Community to share our passion and vision and hopefully recruit people who want to help build a football Club that reflects the soul of San Francisco. Whether it was at Kezar Pub for the Champions League final, McTeague’s with the American Outlaws, or supporting the National Team at Candlestick, we met people who shared the philosophy, values, and vision that are at the core of the SF City project.
Our core group has done the work so far, but the reality is we need you to help make this a success: To help SF City become the first supporter owned Club competing at the top level of U.S. Soccer.
We need your help to organize, lead, and think creatively about how to build SF City into something that our local footballing community can be proud of. We need you to help spread our message and connect with folks who believe in building a Club this way.
We’d love to have you drop us an e-mail to say hi and share your ideas on how to do this the right way, and even become a member.
If you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, and spread the word to folks you think would be interested in the SF City Project.
Best of luck Jacques! I’ve had the pleasure of reading your articles and look forward to following SF City FC!
Jacques Pelham says
Thank you Tyler! I hope you’ll consider becoming a member!
Sounds Exciting Jacques, the main problem that i see is what also holds back the San Diego Flash (another supporter owned club): namely the lack of pro/rel. There is no opportunity for growth if your club succeeds. Until that changes minor league soccer has no realistic chance of true success.
Jacques Pelham says
Andy, I think a few years ago I would have completely agreed with you but the landscape is changing so rapidly I’ve definitely changed my thinking. I still think a pro/rel system with competitive distribution is hugely important and necessary to take the next “quantum leap” (to borrow a phrase from Gary) for American soccer culture.
Looking around, while the Flash may seem stuck (and that may not necessarily be the case) Oklahoma City FC competed in the NPSL this season and will jump to NASL in the next season or two. Just up the road from the us, the Sacramento Republic is in position to jump to MLS after just one season in existence. While these types of moves highlight the meaninglessness of the “divisions” in American soccer, they also demonstrate that, at the club level, starting at the “minor” league can be an effective platform for developing a successful professional club.
Our goal is not to remain at the 4th division for long and move up as quickly as possible.
Hello, I’m your neighbor in Sacramento and if you have time I would like to discuss with you, off the blog, what I’m trying to accomplish in Sacramento. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can exchange contact info to arrange a time to talk. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.
P.S. I’m a founding coaching member.
Good luck with your venture. Please post here when you realize that TPTB in US Soccer will never let clubs like yours succeed or advance. No pro/rel has killed the game here and has sown the seeds of complacency and even corruption.
These guys in Sacramento are gonna learn the hard way, too.
Pro soccer in the US refreshes the alleged “talent pool” each year with a draft of shit college players, then advertises these stiffs as being world-class. I have no doubt that a team like SFCFC can find 10-12 players better than Patrick Mullins, who, despite two Herrmann Awards, is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Unfortunately, a lot of younger players who could thrive in a SFCFC situation, like Rubio Rubin, are still going to find it a lot easier and better for their game to jump over to Denmark, Belgium or the Eredivisie.
I’ve tried to watch Maryland and Michigan play on TV this year and have either fallen asleep or changed the channel three times. NCAA soccer is actually getting worse.