Football and politics generally don’t really mix, but there’s always the odd exception. Dutch minnows TOP Oss are following the Barcelona model with representation by the "socios" or fans.
Barcelona socios are eligible to vote on a new chairman, and several other matters, when they are season ticket holders over 18, who have held their ticket for at least a year.
Dutch Jupiler League side TOP Oss are looking to duplicate this system by selling certificates to the fans. Such a certificate allows a fan to speak his mind on several club affairs.
If you’re willing to pay 75 euros a year, you’ll become a certified TOP-supporter. By logging on to the website http://www.mijntop-oss.nl you can vote on matters involving club policy.
The general idea is to not only allow the fans to speak their mind but even generate some extra income. The club is aiming for 10,000 fans to buy such a certificate, which would generate about 750,000 euros.
I feel that this effort by TOP is a great idea. The club acknowledges its position in society and is trying to give something back to the fans. About 10 percent of the money generated by the certificate action is being donated to a charitable cause the supporters have picked.
Now according to the club site, fans are not allowed to vote on just anything. They can’t sack a manager or enforce that a certain player is benched, but they are allowed to vote on such matters as changing the club logo, altering things around the stadium and the new away-kit for next season.
This form of fan representation is great as the club is trying to give football back to the people the sport belongs to, the fans. They’re saying to the fans "you are the club, so we’ll give you a chance to decide what you think is best for your club."
In an era where clubs see their fans as a way to make money instead of human beings, this is a worthy philosophy. TOP Oss are leading by example, so here’s to many clubs following this great initiative.