A couple of weeks ago, the British soccer juggernaut Arsenal signed off on a plan that would enable fans to purchase an equity stake in the franchise, furthering to help drive the concept of fan involvement that we at Project Franchise value.
While a nice idea on the outside, the plan unfortunately seems to just be a new way for the team to raise some extra cash. The "Arsenal Supporters' Trust" already owns 3% of the squad and will now expand that slightly allow die hard fans to purchase a fanshare for approximately $150 USD, which ends up getting them 1% of an actual share.
The liquidity terms aren't entirely known at this point, but there don't appear to be any plans to open up the fan involvement beyond the ability for common folk to claim that they own a piece of the team. While this is a nice bonus and obviously something we can all relate to, it seems like if their most serious supporters - who already fork over thousands a year on tickets, concessions and merchandise - are willing to spend even more to have a little stake, then they should at least get a voice.
We're not suggesting that for $150 any old fan should be able to decide the fate of forward Andrei Arshavin - who has apparently been a bit of a disappointment and is no unhappy with the team's style of play (or so say our buddies who watch the other kind of football) - but even just the occasional survey or ability to provide input to the teams front office would be a nice touch, a la our friends at the Seattle Sounders.
While this gesture from Arsenal is a nice step in the right direction, we hope that soon there will be legitimate sports teams that actually value the input of their customers, who are literally brand "fanatics" enough to enable them to help craft the games they love and develop the most fan-friendly environment possible.