How to form an official football fans club

Manchester United Supporters Club Bangalore (MUSCB) is only the second Indian fan club to be recognised as “official” by MUFC, the first being in Mumbai.

Given the sheer number of Manchester United fans that we see all over India, just two “official” fan clubs in the country, seems to be a really low number. One of the barriers may be awareness about how to transform a bunch of informal club junkies into an official fan club.

To understand how it is done, we sat down with Mohan Kumar, a senior committee member of the newly formed MUSCB and asked him a few questions.

So if you want to know how you could set up an official supporters club in your city, here are some how-tos from someone closely involved in setting up the fan club. And you don’t have to be a Manchester United supporter to find this useful; there’s valuable inputs here for fans of all clubs.

Q&A with MUSCB committee member

Q. Why should one form an “official” supporter’s club?

A. Supporters clubs are an excellent way of meeting like-minded people devoted to following the same club. There are more than 200 officially recognized branches of the MUSC in 24 countries. Your club will be added to that list.

There is quite a lot of pride involved with getting the official status. You get to see your club listed on the Manchester United website. To add to it, your club will get letter officially signed by the manager of the club, congratulating you and welcoming you to the family.

Members of your supporters club are given preference when purchasing match tickets to go and watch Manchester United play live. Perfect, if one or more of them are traveling to England for education, work or on a holiday.

Trophy tours and player visits! [In the picture below] Members from MUSC Mumbai were greeted by ex-United player Dwight Yorke and the Premier League Trophy as part of the Asian leg of the trophy tour.

 

[Picture: Members from MUSC Mumbai with ex-United player Dwight Yorke and the Premier League Trophy as part of the Asian leg of the trophy tour]

Now think of being a fan and part of a club and then getting recognition directly from the club that you love. That itself is worth it.

Q. If I’m in Chennai and I want to form an ‘MUSC Chennai’, can I do it? Where do I start?

A. Yes, definitely! The following are mandatory requirements from the football club. The requirements are simple, but it takes a lot of work.

  • Firstly, you need to form a club. A group of people, friends and acquaintances who regularly get together to watch games or talk about matters at the club through social media or in person. A Facebook page is a good place to start.
  • You need to get 50 of your group members to become One United Members. OUM is a paid membership that costs INR 4500/- per head and can be signed up to on the Man Utd website.
  • As your group increases in size it is advisable that you start assigning people responsibilities, for example, nominate a president, have a social media manager, etc. This will come in handy because a requirement from the club is that you need to have an organized working committee with a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer when you apply for an official status.
  • Once you have all this in place, you will need to send an email to the club requesting them to consider your application to become official. As part of the application, a written portfolio needs to be drafted and sent to the Ticketing & Membership Service
    The portfolio should include: the history behind your club, details on your committee and the committee members, and why you want to become an official club.

After a week or two the club should get back to you and you will be assigned a point of contact with the football club. He/she will be the person you will have any further dialogues with, and they will guide you through the process until the end.

Q. Based on MUSCB’s experience, do you have any recommendations on what the club could be doing as regular activities that will help them make a good case?

  • We tied up with a pub to have a place for screening the games regularly. That has been key in helping us build and grow the community.
  • I would also recommend having working members to help out. We have a PR Head, Event Coordinator, and a Social Media Manager.

Q. So how did Manchester United Football Club confirm MUSCB’s official status?

A. The ground work took 8 months to complete. But two weeks after the application was sent, our official status was confirmed via email from Manchester United. Our club was then added to the list of official supporters clubs across the world on the Man Utd website.

The only thing left is the arrival of a personally signed letter from the Gaffer of Manchester United Football Club, Mr. Louis van Gaal!

Q. How many people first came together and how did you communicate with each other to make this happen?

A. It started as group of friends watching a United game together in a pub. We knew that there were a number of Manchester United fan groups spread across every corner of Bangalore who gathered in separate places to watch the match.

The idea was to get them together.

So we connected with other fellow Red Devils through Whatsapp Groups, Twitter and Facebook. “Manchester United Fans Club Bangalore” group was founded with a single motto, to unite all Manchester United fans in Bangalore under a single banner.

Q. What difficulties did you face while trying to make the idea a reality?

A. Getting all United fans under one roof itself was a huge challenge. We started off with a Facebook page, then we searched for a place to screen games regularly. This was the main challenge, because we had to try out with lot of pubs and sports bars in Bangalore. After a many token screenings at different locations, we found a place — Vapour in Indira Nagar, that gave us the opportunity to screen games permanently.

Q. Tell us a little more about your members?

A. We have over 2000 followers of MUSCB on social media (Facebook and Twitter). We average over 100 people per screening, and all types of people turn up.

We have college students, single working people, and family men coming with their wives and children. If I were to split them it would be 40 college students, 40 single working people and about 20 married people.

Q. Where does MUSCB go from here?

A. The main motivation when the core committee was set-up was to get the official status, we got that done in 8 months and are pleased with that.

Now the main agenda is to unite all the fans under one roof and to encourage and assist other fans across Indian cities to form Official fan clubs.

We’re also planning to get into lot of volunteer based activities to give back to the community. For example we want to raise funds for underprivileged kids by organizing a football tournament soon.

So if you have a group of friends who want to form an official supporters club in your city, get together, show them this post and make it happen!

If you are from Bangalore and didn’t know about MUSCB, register on their website www.manutdbangalore.com, and check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

www.facebook.com/manutdbangalore

www.twitter.com/manutdbangalore

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