Fans 1 - Broadcasters 0
Noch eine ganz aktuelle Meldung aus der Welt der Fanpolitik. Diesmal kommt sie nicht aus Deutschland, sondern aus Norwegen. Dort haben die Fans es geschafft, dass es zu keinen Montagsspielen mehr in der norwegischen Liga nach dem neuen TV-Vertrag kommt. In diesem Sinne: I don’t like mondays.
Norwegian fans succeeded in struggle against Monday matches!
With the huge impact of commercial success in football, match-going supporters are often facing the feeling that their needs are ignored. To many it seems that the game is becoming something like a toy of broadcasting companies who buy the rights to live broadcasting of leagues and competitions. These companies then tend to be given influence on fixture lists totally for their own benefits, which leads to fans’ missing games, e.g. because of short term changes of fixtures. But especially the introduction of Monday games poses one of the biggest problems for fans all across Europe.
But as Norwegian media just announced, the new TV deal in Norwegian football won’t include Monday games. But what is widely unknown beyond that is that this move of the Norwegian football authorities came following a very successful fans’ campaign on kick-off times all across the country!
Maybe Norway is not considered the most prominent football country of all, but the fans have just done a massive job there to make themselves heard on the issue of kick-off times: as soon as the plans for a new TV deal starting in 2013 were announced by the FA, the football supporters got together to speak up against it (see FSE article). From the beginning of the Norwegian season in early spring 2011, ALL fans groups across the first two divisions had a big banner with the slogan “Fotball Skal Spilles i Helgene” (Football should be played at weekends) put up inside the stadia at every game; they put up a website as well as social media sites on their campaign, sold T-Shirts, distributed stickers and remained silent for the first 10 minutes into each match.
In addition to this, the supporters went to numerous meetings with the different bodies relevant for the adoption of this new TV deal. They spent a lot of time to explain a simple logic to them: supporters contribute to a great extend to the attractiveness of the game and hence to the attractiveness of the match for broadcasters. No fans at the games – a less attractive product. Easy, isn’t it?
At the end of October 2011, just before the end of the Norwegian football season, it was finally announced via the media that the new TV deal of the football governing bodies, in effect from 2013, will not have Monday matches included for all teams of the first division in Norway. A great first success showing what fans can achieve if they want to and organise cleverly and collectively! But it it is also worth giving credit to the Norwegian football officials at this point, for their willingness to listen to the arguments of the supporters and for taking them serious in the end.
Something else that probably needs to be mentioned in this context is that Norway as THE country where the usage of pyrotechnics is legal, where there are standing areas and where fans are listened to with important arrangements such as kick-off times….in this country of all, there is basically no problems with violence or other conflicts involving fans – unlike in other, comparable football countries by structure and size.
Hence, a simple further logic to be drawn from this could be that fans’ needs and the recognition of our contribution to an exciting match experience would be worth becoming the leading criteria over short-term profit-making, as the latter bears more potential to trigger long term problems rather than prevent them. Or not?
In any case – congratulations to the Norwegian fans!
Let this serve an example for the rest of us in Europe and let us enjoy this victory with them!