ULTRAS FUTBOL KLUB 1.FC. WHERE FANS ARE EVERYTHING
"Our fans are the best" - there are few things universally agreed upon in the world of football, but this statement surely is one.
"Ours", meaning all. "Our home", meaning everywhere.
There is no CEO, player or coach who wouldn't say: our fans are the best, the atmosphere at our home matches is the best. Even if the stands are completely abandoned. Even if the fans do not care about cheering and only consume. And jokes aside, but what would be the point of making a swipe at the fanatics who support you, and who sometimes are very few? What did they do to deserve this? If there are just five, because you're doing this badly - all the more respect for those five. Maybe they are really more special because they are so loyal, more than the legion cheering for a succesful club.
The above phenomenon could be seen as a paradox which would make you say:
Everywhere is best.
And everyone is best.
It may be grand, but it's also incoherent: there must be someone who is actually best. You can measure the atmosphere on the stadium. And the most frequent answer when you ask about the best one is Ultras Futbol Klub 1.FC.
There are legends about Ultras Futbol Klub 1.FC, some more believable, some less. Supposedly every time the opponent scores against them, the cheering only gets stronger, so as to support the team. Supposedly the current coach has a UFK1.FC tattoo on his chest, past in the stands, and the club has always been led by someone with strong ties to UFK1.FC. Supposedly once, when in the quarter-finals of play-off Elite League UFK1.FC was a host to the legendary Grande Azul, captain of the guests, the famous Mario Balboa, approached the stands and said that for such fans he could play the whole season for free. Let's add that he was the best paid player in the world. And that, in the end, he made good on his promise.
I'm meeting the leader of UFK1.FC's fanatical stands, Uwe Stein, in the pub next to the club's stadium. What makes this pub exceptional - except for being full despite this being an early morning - is that there are almost no seats. The only ones are the parts of wooden benches from the old stands, torn down during the last renovation of the stadium. This was a huge thing, because while most clubs modernize their stadia, UFK1.FC switched the wooden benches for... stands filled only with standing places, like sectors for the most avid fans used to be made.
Since UFK1.FC has only this kind of fans, and the stand-up stands can - according to estimations, made more difficult in this type of stadium - accomodate even up to 54k fans.
I'm asking Uwe Stein to separate the myths from rumours about UFK1.FC: Yes, it's a tradition, if the opponent scores first, we're only chanting louder to support the team. There was this American guy here once, writing about us. He was coming to the stadium with a decibel meter for two... no, three months. He confirmed this, let's say, scientifically. And it was the loudest at the end of the game, when we lost 0:5. - Sten orders two beers with a gesture, he's not asking if I want one. "The players are young people. They have their doubts and weaknesses. They can have a worse game, but I know they're not giving up, they're fighting. It's not just a cliche, our transfer politics is also specifically focused on finding players with personality. Others won't stick. As a consequence, we know that even if we lose, it's never due to lack of determination. If we're losing, we just know that the guys need more help.
That's when I remember that UFK1.FC is famous for its chant "wir sind stolz auf dich", which means "we're proud of you". They sing it no matter what the score is, fifteen minutes before the match ends. I don't have time to ask about that, because Stein continues: As for our coach... we know he's not welcome everywhere because he used to be an ultras. But we're not 'everyone'. We're not 'everywhere'. We're UFK1.FC and we do the things our own way. With his approach, he basically has no chance of getting the job anywhere else, but I know him since he was a kid and I know he doesn't give a damn. He'd prefer to cut the grass in our academy than coach another club. Some people might not believe that, but that's what we are. The last thing is a lie, though." Stein takes a swig of beer. "When Balboa approached our stands, I was fifteen and I was in the first row, so I remember everything. He didn't say he would play one season for free, but two - he finishes.
Ultras Futbol Klub 1.FC is known as a team that's one of a kind. Many teams let its fans on important decisions, creates socios structures, gives them space to debate. In UFK1.FC there's no place for half measures, though. There is no decision that's not been submitted to a popular vote - they even have a special app for that. Everyone who works in the club, starting with CEOs, through lawyers, ending with the janitors, are avid fans. The only exception UFK1.FC allows are the players, but the team must be structured appropriately, and a large part of it must be made up of the team's home grown players, who are once again "the insiders" and live and breathe brown and dark blue.
What needs to be stressed is that even though UFK1.FC represent the ultras culture, they've cut off all their ties to hooligan behavior. Yes, sometimes there are chants and flares. But the stadium is one of the safest in the world, as the studies show year after year. It is symbolized by how flares are handled - the club takes an active part in the process, everything is strictly planned and reminds you of a firework show for New Year's Eve, which doesn't change the effect. They're not giving it up even despite penalties, being a loud voice in the debate on stadium pyrotechnics, showing that it can be tamed and remain in the stadium. Their attachment to flares is also seen in the nickname for Ultras Futbol Klub 1.FC, who are also called "Feuerwehrmann's," meaning "firemasters".
Those in favor of UFK1.FC say it's a tribal structure. Their opponents call them a sect. One thing is sure, UFK1.FC doesn't care much about other people's opinions, they like what they are. They'd prefer to lose than change their path. They've often argued for the romantic side of football, that winning is not the most important. Sure, it's nice to win, but it's not victory that defines football, but something more. Namely, the sense of belonging. The community who shares emotions through the pitch. UFK1.FC of course always aimed to get a good team, but it looked the most after what it put in its DNA with pride.
The thing is, they don't need to hide themselves behind this romanticism - their idea of football bears surprisingly measurable fruit. Many teams are really paralyzed by the atmosphere at the stadium, and "Feuerwerhmann's" seem to grow wings in home matches. The model for making decisions about the club has been coherent and consistent for many years, and it forced them to develop the academy - which now has become one of the best in the world, and makes for a source of excellent players, not just in football skills, but also outstanding mental strength. Sponsors line up for UFK1.FC, because that's the community you want to join.
That's how a team that may not be this season's favorite for becoming the best in the world in the upcoming ELITE LEAGUE, but could be its dark horse.
In Football Coach we give justice to the fans, treating them as something more than a source of income on the match day.
Managing the relationship between the fans and the club influences not only the team’s image, but also its sports outcomes. We give you a set construction tools so that you can build the fan environment, starting with club gadgets and ending with organizing fanclubs.
There will be a dedicated coach class focused on building these relationships.