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Published on October 8th, 2012 | by mark

¡Vamos Ceares – Against Modern Football

I’m fed up with the new age soccer fan. Well run football clubs with healthy balance sheets and modest outgoings isn’t exciting enough for them. It’s sad to think that they wouldn’t give a toss about our game if it wasn’t a wash with cash. I’m fed up of being asked my opinion on the weekend’s games by the puddings at work, most of them giving their fascinating insight from just having watched ESPN goals on their phone or having listened along to the game with Merson and his merry band of Soccer Saturday clowns. Fed up of the catch up around the water cooler about how your fantasy football team is doing in the office league and how your football knowledge and opinion is dependable on this. Fed up being called a miserable sod for not partaking in their soccer banter emails. But most of all I’m fed up of being invited out on their transfer deadline day curry nights out. It makes my piss boil.

I don’t need to justify to these plebs why I don’t give a shit about the anticlimactic Super Sunday. I go to watch my team home and away because it’s what I enjoy, I don’t do it so I can feel superior and brag like no doubt these weapons would. Not everyone can get to the the game I understand this. Football is expensive today and real fans are priced out every season by tourists and clueless dickheads just because they have a bit more money. The fact is if you’re reading this you’re already clever enough to know I’m not referring to you, I know you hate not being there or being involved, but you have your reasons. The truth is these people are different; they have no interest in being a part of a community club they just want their fill of EPL soccer.

I believe that fan owned and run football clubs is the only way we can change the game and take it back. Grab them back from the hands of the people who promote the infesting culture of this new fan. If the Bundesliga has the 50+1 rule why can’t we have something similar? Clubs should be the life blood of the community they are situated in.

We had the opportunity to reconnect with the community at Stockport when we had a fans trust but we fucked it up. Too many people all vying to be the official handshaker, people who looked to one another as friends were betrayed. Now I’m not sure if Stockport will ever be in the hands of the fans again. Fortunately elsewhere in English football there already is a successful supporters movement and we should be proud of the clubs that are being bought back by supporters trusts. Looking at Spain they’ve started to take an interest.

Spain is a footballing nation steeped in prestige. They can put a pretty impregnable case forward to owning both the greatest club and international side the world has ever seen. Like British football it’s exported around the world like a corporate brand to billions. Like British football it’s also dominated by a handful of megarich super clubs who use their status to dictate the distribution of sponsorship money and tv revenue. And just like British football, albeit much graver, it’s in the midst of a financial and moral crisis.

Spanish football seems to mirror its own economic woes. Six of the 20 Liga clubs – Rayo Vallecano, Racing Santander, Real Betis, Zaragoza, Granada and Mallorca are currently in bankruptcy proceedings and many more find themselves in precariously situations. Spanish football debt is close to one billion euros and this is only the money that’s owed to the Public Treasury. It seems however all this doesn’t matter because nobody wants to do a thing about it.

It’s incredible to think that the state allows the Spanish clubs to continue to flout the laws but the truth is there aren’t many politicians who have courage to deal with the issue. There’s too many replica shirt wearing tv twats, who can unfortunately vote, and any threat to their routine of nipping to the local bar for the game or moulding their perfect arse crease on their sofa ready for the galaticos would see a backlash on the scale of the recent riots. It’d be political suicide.

Fortunately there is saving grace, through all this mismanagement, corruption and contempt of the core fan who is seen nothing short of a consumer, which has led to the rise of the supporter movement. A part of that movement there’s a small team in a neighbourhood of Gijon, northern Spain. For the last 2 years they have been completely fan owned and run which is quite unique in Spain, a small team that’s leading the overdue take back.

UC Ceares are in the Spanish 3rd tier and were owned by a local restaurant when the club was forced to make a decision that would shape it’s future. The choices were clear, merge the club and lose the identity or fold and lose the identity. However a small group of young fans made a few calls and they rallied to approach the owner with a third option, let us take it on. None had experience of running a club before, just a group of local lads who thought they could do a damn

sight better than the current uninterested inherent. They had big ideas about making the club into what it should be, in to what all clubs should be, a community entity. Inspired by our English supporter movements, phoenix clubs and FC St Pauli they wanted to embed it back into the neighbourhood and engage the local people. This wasn’t just about the football, it was about the love, the feeling and the pride of being from Ceares and wanting to share that and let everyone know. I’m going all soppy here but after experiencing the warmth first hand from these guys I know they are making a real success of it.

People thought they were crazy, no more so then the local council. The fans approached them about the technicalities of buying the club from the restaurant owner but they were laughed at and asked why on earth they would want to take on an economically unviable football club. Seven months after the purchase the directors invited the same council and old members of the club down to a game, there reaction was nothing short of stunned silence. They were in awe of the transformation.

Starting with only a hundred paying members of the fans trust it’s now set to top 500, remembering all the while that this is a league cluttered with amateur teams on a par with our own Sunday league that averages a few dozen a game. They have contributed to their community by organising football teams for all ages, gigs, barbeques, and even cultural activities like literacy contests. Traveling in numbers of up to 100, they enjoy subsidized ticket prices to most places they go on the basis they fill the visiting club’s canteen with cash from food and beer sales. Their reputation and stock is rapidly increasing and the rest of Spain looks on in envy. Fans are encouraged to get hands on, in fact it’s essential. Every job in the backroom is taken on by members.No job is too small or unrewarding. Directors drink from the same cups as the regular members. There were no egos and no bravado present when I visited, just a bunch of mates that’s ever growing, running a football club and loving every second of it.

Culture plays a massive part, no more so than British terrace culture. The Northern Soul fist is the emblem on their banners and t-shirts, The Jam ‘In The City’ album was playing when I turned up and the club boosts an impressive repertoire of chants based on a number of English clubs all with an original take. I didn’t even need to bring my copy of Stand to show them because they trumped me by having 5 copies of their own. Fans are flocking to UC Ceares for the simple reason that they are fed up of being just a consumer. They want to be a part of something real, something human, treated as more than a punter. Even our club could sit up and learn some lessons from these guys. This club is pretty unique in my eyes and all of them share my distaste of the current state of the game. Proudly brazen across the stadium is a sign that reads ‘Against Modern Football’ and this couldn’t be more apt for this club and these amazing fans.

¡Vamos Ceares.

Callum Brown

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