The wisdom of football crowds

Fascinating article in The Times today, sadly already sequestered behind paid registration about WebFootballClub.com in France. Here’s the SP.

The club is managed by fans via its website. Most fans don’t go to games but watch online. Every one gets a vote and votes are weighted by track record in making effective choices (don’t ask me to explain). There is a club coach but “all he can do is shout at the team and determine substitutions during matches”. Soon, even substitutions will be done by fans watching live webcasts. Fierce debates take place in online forums.

Result? The club went from the fifth division of the Caen district to the second, in back-to-back championship wins. And went undefeated last season.

And how about this for loyalty, all you frequent flier manipulators?

Corinne Teissier, a 26-year old primary school teacher, was amongst the supporters who could take credit for the triumph. She saw all the games on the internet and acquired enough points to join the most influential grade of decision-makers. “I know everything about the players, except those that have joined this season, but I will be watching them very carefully.”

She goes on to a detailed discussion of the club’s prospects.

I love the sound of this. Talk about engaging the passion of fans. And I’ve always felt sceptical of the manger-centric tone of much football analysis, all very much in the heroic leader model of the world. What could other brands and businesses learn from this?

Tangential PS. This great Times article makes me an ardent supporter of… The Guardian, which manages to succeed whilst making vast swathes of its content available free, with none of the hassle of The Times.

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