by Steve Paris, co-founder Fan Owned Club
One of the most common questions I am asked when I tell people about Fan Owned Club is “How did you get involved?”
In early 2018, I purchased an advertising business from Mark. We spent a week together that February, meeting customers and transitioning relationships. In our very first meeting, a client asked Mark what was next for him, and he offered a surprising answer. He was making plans to move his family to Austria, where he was going to buy and manage a professional soccer club.
As I looked around the room, I could see that most people were thinking exactly what I was – this guy was a dreamer. But then Mark started to talk about it. He pulled up pictures of the stadium on his phone and shared some of the conversations that he had already had with various team owners and city managers. Though ambitious to be sure, it was clear that this was not just some fanciful idea. Mark had done his homework.
Later, Mark walked me through a presentation on Fan Owned Club. I was both impressed and intrigued. Though it had been almost twenty years, I had spent the first part of my career managing indoor sports facilities and have a degree in sport management. I was feeling that old itch again, and I wanted to get involved. But with a toddler at home, a heavy travel schedule for my full-time work and a new side business to learn, the timing was not ideal to add another thing to an already overflowing plate.
Mark and I kept in touch, mostly talking business, but periodically he would give me an update on Fan Owned Club. Finally, about seven months after that initial conversation, I became the first investor in FOC. In early November of 2018, I flew to Salt Lake City to spend a few days with Mark working the business plan and refining our approach.
Things started to happen fast from there. That winter we came to an agreement in principle with the owners of Pinzgau; longtime MLS marketing and communications pro Trey Fitz-Gerald joined us as our third co-founder; and we incorporated Fan Owned Club. The rest you know – Ziege, Hummel, RSL and the best first half in Club history, including qualifying for the since cancelled promotion round.
It has been a long journey to get here, but one also that has seemingly gone by in the blink of an eye. There is so much to be proud of, and yet, we are only at the end of the beginning. The support and enthusiasm from our early adopters has been amazing. Now, with the public launch just a few days away, I am looking forward to welcoming many more into the fold as we truly become Fan Owned Club.
Plant the Roots. Grow the Game. Shoot for the Crown.
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