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#sowhoknew: Is crowd-sourced management the future of football?

Think you know more about the beautiful game than Guardiola? Then you might be interested in the new football management app being used in French football which gives control of key decisions to the fans of the team…

Avant Garde Caennaise are currently in the 6th tier of French football and they are running an experiment which cedes control of the team to around 2000 fans of the club via a real time interactive app. The way in which the system works is that fans pay a subscription to have their decisions heard and implemented by the club boss. They can make decisions from the sidelines from anything to do with team selection, formation and even transfers. Even during the game, subscribers can vote on real time aspects such as tactics and substitutions.

Games are streamed live via the app so the supporter doesn’t even have to attend the matches. The more a supporter interacts with the app the more value is attached to their choices. But if they want to circumvent that process then they can pay extra for a premium service which automatically gives their selections more credence.

Julien Le Pen is official manager of the team and he uses the app to make suggestions to the fans who then vote on whether to implement his suggestions or demand alternatives:

“Before, I used to choose the team with my two assistants, now I do it in collaboration with thousands of people so that’s the big difference. They make plenty of decisions that a normal coach would make”
The concept is revolutionary but surely management by a committee of partisan fans is never going to work? Well, so far the experiment has been an unbridled success – the team was promoted in the first season of the trial.

The app was developed by United Managers and the interface looks pretty much like a football management game you find on a Playstation or Xbox.

The concept was developed by Fredéric Gauquelin and his assistant Bruno Bèlas who launched the app three years ago. Initially they met resistance from a highly sceptical user base but once the system was implemented it quickly gained traction because the element of control offered to fans was clearly very appealing. It also offered a new revenue stream for the club:

“Those who discredit our concept think the fans are fools. But nevertheless, what comes out of all this is something coherent and smart”

It has broadened the fan base of the club beyond the environs of the Normandy based town to a much wider geographical audience. Fans from the rest of France and even from as far away as Belgium have opted into the pay model so they can have a more realistic experience of being a virtual football manager.

But not everyone is enamoured with the initiative as 9 out of the 11 other clubs in the same league as AG Caen have complained to the French football governing body seeking to have the use of the app abolished. So far though their complaints have fallen on deaf ears and the usage of the app continues.

So what do you think? Does this virtual football manager app have any real value or is it simply a marketing gimmick? Will it get the likes of Sarri sacked (although after yesterdays 6-0 drubbing by Man City that might happen anyway) and Ranieri made redundant? As ever I am keen to hear your thoughts…

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.