As the Euro’s came to an end last week and England got knocked out by Iceland the week before, I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan shouting at the TV offering Roy Hodgson some advice on how to run his team. And I’m also sure many of you have been just as frustrated at your favourite club’s manager for their team selection during the season. Managers are always under a lot of scrutiny from the media and fans and the turnover of managers across the leagues has always been a problem.
Yet despite all this, we would obviously like a go ourselves. I’m sure we’ve all played Football Manager, right? We all remember the success and pride we felt when we took our respective Exeter City’s or Grimsby Town’s to the Champions League as a relatively unknown striker managed to get you 25 goals a season (possibly using FM Editor) and we thought to ourselves, how difficult can this be?
Well Mark North has decided to set up a club where the fans are put into the dugout. The football club, United London FC, has been created by people not much different from the likes of you and me, just genuine die-hard football fans who are fuelled by the passion of the game.
Mark recently stated in an interview with These Football Times as he talks about his inspiration for setting up the idea; “The eureka moment came during last year’s X-Factor. As I sat there with my wife I thought ‘why are there no voting shows for men?’ That’s when I came up with the idea of combining football with an X-Factor style voting and just developed the idea from there. I spoke to the London FA and met with some Premier League clubs, who liked the idea, gave me some suggestions and then I just ran with it. Luckily things are coming along very nicely”.
This is a unique, innovative and quite fascinating idea set up by Mark where you as the fans get to create a direct impact in the running of a football club by being given the chance to vote on the team each week as you are embraced in the highs and lows of a match day. You are provided with sufficient stats which we all know and love to analyse, especially those pass accuracy percentages, alongside a background report of each player as well as an Assistant Manager report each week to make sure you have every base covered to make your team selection.
As well as the intrinsic reward of being a part of something exciting and special to motivate you to take part, there are extrinsic motivators such as Manager of the Month and Manager of the Year awards which can be won.
The coach for ULFC for the season will be former Millwall, Southend United and Port Vale striker Leon Constantine. Leon himself started in the depths of non-league football for Edgware Town before being spotted by Millwall (okay, not quite the Jamie Vardy story but what is?) and is now keen to work closely with the players to ensure they perform on the big day.
The gap between non-league football and the giants of Premier League football is getting wider and wider with each passing season, the money being injected into these big clubs will make our heads’ spin but simultaneously clubs seven, eight or nine divisions lower are struggling to survive. Football can be a cruel game with players as young as 16 or even committed veterans in their 30’s being released to clear space on the wage bill for a big, fancy summer signing but Mark is giving these lads another chance to climb back up the football ladder.
This idea has great potential but as it is starting at a low level of football; it will be interesting to see how this idea develops. Could you see the great Manchester United getting rid of Mourinho and putting the fans in his place? No, not right now as millions of fans trying to pick the team would be an incredibly difficult thing to administer but this is an idea to get people off their sofa’s to engage in grassroots and lower league football, where the true spirit of the game is about the ball on the pitch rather than the money swirling round.