Fans Vote for … Nike?

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by: Nancy Baym

In my favorite case of online fan empowerment, the purchase of soccer team Ebbsfleet United by 28,000+ members of a website organized to buy a team is a done done done deal. The fans will be voting on team selection in March, but they’ve already voted for Nike:

Last week Ebbsfleet announced sportswear manufacturer Nike will manufacture home and away strips from next season after 91.26% of the 13,809 members voted to accept their offer to supply kit and merchandise.

Which just goes to show that fan-ownership by no means means eschewing corporations. [btw, I’m not sure how to read the contradiction in the article between 28000+ owners and just under 14000 members]

I’ve got a couple of slides I use in a presentation to make the point about fan influence — both happy and not so happy — and on the happy slide I wind up with this purchase because I still haven’t found a better exemplar of the trend toward ever greater fan power and influence.

Things like this tend to get a lot of coverage at the outset, but then get forgotten, so I hope we’ll see some analysis in months and years to come about how this whole fan-ownership thing actually pans out. When you’ve got 90% ready to get down with Nike there’s no conflict, but I wonder what will happen when they start getting bitterly divided over things like whether the goalie deserves a second chance…

On a housekeeping note, my apologies for being a slow blogger lately. Blame the flu and the grading. Today I am headed to Norway to (see pop bands and) talk at by:Larm. I am tickled beyond belief to be speaking on the same program as Jello Biafra — I never did like the Dead Kennedys, but if you’d told my punk rock 15 year old self that one day I’d be on the same program as him, I suspect it would have given me years of feeling like I had the future I hoped for ahead of me. Sometimes life makes the most unexpected spirals. I kind of doubt I’ll be blogging from Oslo, but expect to hear all kinds of things that will make it here when I get back.

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