The Football Manifesto

is creating a grassroots member-owned football league and club movement

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patron
"Sport has the power to change the world.  It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.  It speaks to youth in a language they understand.  Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair.  It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.  It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination."
-- Nelson Mandela

The Football Manifesto and Club Handbook:  Bringing the Beautiful Game to the People and Making the USA #1 in the World
is now out on Amazon.  

Please buy it, read it, recommend it to your friends who love the beautiful game and give it a 5-star customer review on Amazon.

My name is Robert Wilson.  I am the author of The Football Manifesto (TFM).  I am also a citizen of the USA. 

WC19

TFM was launched on Amazon in anticipation of WC18 in Russia.  Now that the USWNT has won WC19 in France, TFM is even more relevant!!!

While I am in favor of "equal pay" for the USWNT, TFM's position (and mine) is two-fold:

First, given the accomplishments of the USWNT (4-time World Cup Champions and 4-time Olympic Gold Medalists), they should not be paid equally to the USMNT, they should be paid more. 

Second, even with equal pay or even if the USWNT is paid more than the USMNT, the deeper structural problems of football in the USA will persist.  Resolving the equal pay question for the USWNT is very important, but alone it will not create the mechanisms of restructuring that the sport sorely needs if the USA is to become #1 in the world on both the women's side and the men's. 

TFM identifies and addresses in detail the chronic challenges facing football (soccer) in the USA and points towards a comprehensive solution for the entire football pyramid (from youth to the pros).

Let me begin by making some "key" points about the challenges that the USA is facing (additional "key" points and much more detail and analysis is available in the book).

Point #1:  Under the current rules and regulations of U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM (all of which is sanctioned by FIFA), Real Madrid, Barcelona, Swansea City and 33 of the 36 clubs that comprise the Bundesliga (i.e., Divisions 1 and 2) would be "illegal" in the USA.  They could not exist.  They could not exist, because fan and/or community ownership of football clubs is not allowed in the USA.

Point #2:  Since 1968, with the founding of the original North American Soccer League (NASL), and since then on both the women's and the men's professional league side of the equation, no league (and there have been a number of incarnations) has ever generated a profit.  MLS, the most successful league to date, has had 24 straight years of losses (MLS has publicly acknowledged USD 150MM/year in losses).  Cumulatively, that is over 50 consecutive years of losses.  The patented response from the top is that progress is being made and that it takes time.  As TFM shows it is much more complicated than that.

Point #3:  The USWNT at WC19 was a resounding success. In my opinion, WC19 was just as impressive as WC18.  Prior to WC19, there was general concern that the rest of the world was "catching up" to the USWNT.  They didn't catch up this time.  But don't be deceived by WC19.  The rest of the world, particularly Europe, is catching up to the USWNT.  Of the eight (8) teams in the WC19 quarter-finals all were from Europe except the USWNT. 

The top European football leagues and the football clubs that comprise those leagues are fielding women's teams.  Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, etc. are fielding women's teams alongside the men's teams (WC19's final game in Lyon is symbolic of what is going on).  The NCAA will not be enough.  Nor will NWSL.  The gap will close sooner than we realize.

Without a complete and let's face it, massive restructuring of the entire football pyramid, the global reign of the USWNT (the only global standard of excellence that the USA has) will be threatened.

Point #4:  The priority in any discussion of restructuring football in the USA has to focus on one subject and one subject only -- namely, the creation of world-class football clubs and a world-class league.  After 24 years, there is not one world-class football club in MLS (or the USA). 

By world-class I mean a men's side capable of competing in any of the top European football leagues or either the Brazilian or Argentinian top-tier leagues, and winding up at a mid-table position.  No team in MLS is even close.

NWSL as a separate women's league will not be able to compete in the short, medium much less long-term, with top-tier European clubs that are fielding both men's and women's teams.  

For those who believe that promotion & relegation is the solution, it isn't.  The only way that Pro/Rel can work in the USA is with a complete deconstruction of MLS's business model and the complete revamping of U.S. Soccer's Professional League Standards (PLS).  In short, a restructuring of the entire football pyramid in the USA is needed.  That is, if we want to have/maintain the goal of the USA becoming #1 in the world in both the women's and men's game, which is TFM's mandate.

Point #5:  Despite the accomplishments of the USWNT, we have to face the facts.  The World Cup and the Olympics only come around once every four years.  For the other three years and ten months, we have to have a domestic focus. 

MLS and NWSL are respectively for the men and the women, the two top-tier professional leagues in the USA.  Despite MLS's longevity and in spite of NWSL's survival so far (in comparison to the prior all-women's league attempts), the USA still does not have a football culture.  U.S. Soccer, MLS/SUM and NWSL (and the leagues below) have been unable to create it.  

TFM outlines a path to get there -- to create for the first time a true football culture in the USA.

Introduction

Since 1997, I have lived and worked in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  

I have been a fan of the beautiful game for decades and have followed the developments of football closely in Brazil, the USA and globally.  

After the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I started a blog focused on the beautiful game with a particular focus on the USA.  I tried to answer a simple question -- why in the USA, the richest country in the world, has men's and women's football (soccer) met with such difficulty, particularly given the fact that American football (the NFL), baseball (Major League Baseball (MLB)), basketball (the NBA) and hockey (the NHL), represent the global standard of excellence on and off the field/court/ice.  

In their respective sports those four (4) leagues (the Big 4) are the best in the world. Why doesn't football in the USA represent the global standard of excellence? Why doesn't the USA have the best football league in the world?  

The blog and the ongoing research to support it led to some fascinating discoveries (see below).  Those discoveries and the evidence to support those discoveries formed the basis of TFM.   

TFM is also a strategy in response to those discoveries, to create for the first time a true football culture in the USA and to transform the USA into the #1 football nation on the planet. 

TFM is a blueprint for a grassroots movement to create the best football league in the world in the USA (for both the women and the men).  Our principal on-field model is Brazil and our principal off-field/administrative model is Germany's Bundesliga -- with obvious adaptations for the USA (see below).

What Does Creating a True Football Culture in the USA Mean?

Brazil is the only 5-time winner of the FIFA Men's World Cup, and represents the quintessence of football culture.  The question, however, presents itself -- how can a true football culture be created in the USA?   

In attempting to answer that question, and in the course of my research, one of the inspirations I came across was a book by Steve Stoute called The Tanning of America.  Put briefly, the demographic changes that have taken place in the USA, particularly since 1990 (population: 250MM) until today (population:  328MM), have set the stage for a remarkably rich cultural mosaic (both in the USA and Canada). 

Tanning is a phenomenon that reflects the melding together and celebration of racial, ethnic, gender, religious and cultural backgrounds, often with a youth-focused undercurrent of urban, hip-hop and cultural-creatives across a digitized network of global villages.

Tanning is a process of inclusion not exclusion.  It is also a reflection of a deep tribal connection across our species.

Tanning manifests itself in music, the arts, fashion, design, politics, business and penetrates all aspects of society, including sports.  Tanning has to do with interior mental landscapes.  We can all be tan.

No two countries are better positioned to exploit the tanning of football globally, than the United States of America and Canada.

The next great harvest of football brands that have global impact will be created in the USA and Canada.

The process of discovering these new brands requires an unprecedented plunge into the collective psychic, cultural and historical depths of the USA's and Canada's evolving demographics.  It is there that we find the essence of football's tanning and branding potential.

The argument for rebranding football (see below) is based on one simple fact -- Football is more than a sport -- in and of itself, it is a culture. 

The Football Manifesto (TFM) Strategy

TFM is the first step in the creation of a nationwide grassroots movement in the USA to place the sport of football (to be distinguished from "American football" of the National Football League (NFL) variety) firmly and permanently in the hands of its fans.

Step 1 is to buy TFM on Amazon.  Step 2 is to provide your support on Patreon!!!

Step 2 will support Step 3, which comprises the (1) legal, (2) design, and (3) technological strategy and mechanisms to rebrand and restructure football in the USA.

Step 3 will entail:

(i) rebranding the sport from the top of the pyramid (the pros) to the bottom (youth) by introducing new football club brands that rival the best brands from Europe and Latin America,

(ii) introducing a new professional league and new football club business models that have established track records of proven success elsewhere (again from Europe and Latin America), 

(iii) maintaining the global standard of excellence for league and club on-field performance and off-field administration, where the English Premier League (EPL) and the German Bundesliga are the league benchmarks of excellence, and Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, etc. represent the club benchmarks of excellence, and

(iv) using mobile technology and monetization to get us there.  What mobile apps did for accommodations (Airbnb) and urban transportation (Uber), TFM's mobile monetization strategy will do for football.

Today, we do not have merchandise to share with you, our grassroots supporters. These three (3) steps will create that merchandise and much much more.

To become #1 in the world, we will have create a new league and to begin with, at least sixteen (16) football clubs in the USA capable of competing in and maintaining their position in any first division league in Europe (re:  the Big 5:  the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France) or in Brazil or Argentina (collectively our benchmarks of global excellence for leagues and clubs).

What You Need to Know

Your Patreon contribution will make you a Founder!!!

A Founder of a new league and new clubs.  Football clubs that are structured to have fans and/or communities as their heart and soul and as member-owners in a democratically administered organization (with varying degrees of administrative responsibility both on-field and off-field depending on the club's business model, see below).

Existing leagues and clubs will be able to migrate to this new format and structure.  Those individual owners (or owner-operators) that want to maintain their status quo ownership stake will be able to do so, with obvious adaptations to the demands of league and club revenue maximization.

About Rebranding Football.  The Big 4 (the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the NHL) represent 123 teams and collectively generate more than USD 25 billion a year in revenue.  The Big 4 also represent a generic branding model. The Big 4's branding model has saturated the USA's marketplace for that particular approach to branding. Even so, and since 1968, with the founding of the original North American Soccer League (NASL) and for all football (soccer) league incarnations since (men and women) football has adopted that same Big 4 branding strategy. The most recent adjustments to that branding strategy (principally by MLS) have involved adding FC, RealSporting, United, and the like, along with the city's name.  

Part of football's problem in the USA is the attempt to carve out marketshare with a branding model that has already saturated the marketplace.

Suffice it to say that there are three (3) tiers of football club brands:  

Tier 1
 brands like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, etc., monetize globally.  Tier 2 brands would monetize nationwide in the USA.  Tier 3 brands are local or regional brands that limit their revenue generating and social impact to a given metropolitan area or region.

The USA has never produced a Tier 2 much less a Tier 1 football club brand.  MLS is composed of Tier 3 brands exclusively.  TFM is about producing all three, with an emphasis on Tiers 1 and 2.

About Football League and Club Revenue and Business Models.  There are five (5) football club revenue drivers, and five (5) football club business models.

The five (5) revenue drivers of football clubs are:  (i) venues (principally match day revenue), (ii) on-field product distribution (TV/digital revenue), (iii) off-field product distribution (commercial revenue in the form of merchandising, sponsorships, etc.), (iv) managing talent, and (v) packaging productions (regional, national and global competitions).   

The five (5) football club business models are:  the Barcelona Model (the fans are club members who vote and who control 100% of the club's administration on the field and off), the Bayern Munich Model (the fans maintain majority voting control of the club's administration on the field and off (the so-called 50% + 1 share rule)), the Swansea City Model (the fans maintain a minority stake (less than 50% voting control) while a high net worth individual (HNWI) or group of HNWIs maintains voting control), the Chelsea Model (where one HNWI or group of HNWIs controls all aspects (100%) of club administration), and the MLS Model (where only HNWIs may join as owner-operators, where they collectively invest in one legal vehicle (in this case a Delaware LLC) and secure in return a license for a given geographic area to operate a team -- MLS "centralizes" administration of all player contracts and player movement, standardizing and limiting avenues for revenue generation at the club level, while delegating responsibility for stadium construction and maintenance to the owner-operators).  

MLS's principal source of operating revenue is gate receipts (the other four (4) revenue drivers are dramatically underperforming when compared to our global benchmarks).  

In Europe, the epicenter of global football, all five (5) revenue streams are maximized, with TV/digital revenue as the primary driver, with strong complements from commercial revenue (sponsorships, merchandising, etc.) and venues.  MLS's current TV contract is USD 90MM/year, of which 1/3 is commonly acknowledged to be shared with U.S. Soccer.  By contrast, the EPL's TV contract is USD 2.7 billion/year.  

TFM takes a deep dive into the details, impacts and strategies of branding, revenue and business models.  TFM asks and answers how and why these basic tools are being used in the USA to limit the upside potential of the sport and also simultaneously maintain the status quo of a dysfunctional football pyramid, that sells MLS as a legitimate Division 1 league, when in actuality it is a second or even third division league (on and off the field) based on the global standard of excellence.  

Why is a Grassroots Movement for Football Necessary in the USA?  

Simply put, the NFL, for all practical purposes, controls both U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer (MLS)/Soccer United Marketing (SUM)(MLS/SUM), and as a result the latter two organizations are working together to artificially "cap" the upside potential of football (again, please read TFM for the details, particularly Chapters 1, 4, 5 and 6.1).  

Here are some important facts:

  • According to Deloitte's latest Football Money League (FML) report (2019), Real Madrid had more revenue in the 2017-18 season than any club (in any sport) in history at 750.9MM Euros (USD 879.1MM).  That is more revenue than the entire MLS/SUM revenue for 23 teams in 2018. One club in Spain generated more revenue than the entire top-flight professional football league in the USA and Canada, two of the richest countries in the world.

  • Manchester City's payroll (approximately USD 215MM) is the rough equivalent of the entire payroll for all 24 teams in MLS (2019 season).

  • The average individual player salary of the top clubs in the EPL is virtually equivalent to the salary cap (USD 4.2MM) for an entire MLS squad.

What is the Motivation for US Soccer-MLS/SUM to Purposefully and Quite Strategically Hold the Sport of Football Back?

The reasoning is simple and straight-forward.  70% of the NFL (American football) players are black.  The pipeline of talent (from Pop Warner through the NCAA) into the NFL from primarily inner-city, suburban and rural communities must be preserved.  

A world-class football league in the USA would threaten that American football pipeline of talent.  African-American youth would/will migrate away from American football to football, when football in the USA pays globally competitive wages to professional athletes.  U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM is there to make sure that that does not happen. 

This is coupled with the fact that the NFL is unilaterally undermining its very own product via the violence and values the sport represents (symbolically and in actuality) -- the concussion (CTE) problem, the short career life span of NFL athletes (3.3 years on average), the toleration of mysogyny and domestic violence, drug use/abuse, other publicly acknowledged criminal behavior, Colin Kaepernick, etc.  

Add in the demographic changes in the USA with Hispanics, European, African, Asian and Latin ethnic groups (the vast majority of whom come from football cultures) and the marketplace is set for a football explosion. [1]  

That football explosion is exactly what U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM are there to avoid.  

U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM represents the lid on the pressure cooker of demand for football in the USA.  

U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM's primary purpose, their raison d'être is to make sure football does not become what it could become, namely, a world-class sport in the USA -- a sport which competes at least on a par with the EPL, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A, from the standpoint of revenue generation.  Their secondary purpose, which is what is sold to the public at large (including FIFA) is that they are valiantly bringing "soccer" to the USA.

So why is TFM's grassroots movement necessary in the USA?

Because without such a grassroots movement the NFL's idea of the status quo as represented (for over two decades) by U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM, will not change.

The USA has a Long Storied Tradition of Rival Professional Sports Leagues

The American Football League (merged with the NFL), the World Hockey Association (merged with the NHL) and the American Basketball Association (merged with the NBA), and all of these rival leagues represented creative cutting edge innovative approaches to their respective sports.  

However, there is a difference worthy of note.  In the case of the six leagues cited, all six represented the global standard of excellence.  Their respective goals were the same -- to be the best in the world.  

Today, the USA maintains the global standard of excellence in four team sports: American football (NFL), baseball (MLB), men's basketball (the NBA), women's basketball (WNBA) and in hockey (the NHL).  The absolute best athletes in the world come to the USA to play in those leagues.

The exception is football (soccer).  MLS/SUM does not represent the global standard of excellence.  While NWSL is a valiant attempt to keep the women's domestic game alive, it too pales in comparison to the women's teams being fielded by some of the world's great football clubs in Europe.

TFM is about establishing, sustaining and growing that global standard of excellence in football in the USA (for both the women and the men), with a new professional football league and new clubs.

There is only one way to do this.  We have to have the goal of becoming #1 in the world [2].

Anyone who settles for "being amongst the best in the world" is selling you snake-oil. Anyone who makes that statement does not want the USA to be the best, much less #1 in the world, and does not want to bring the global standard of football excellence to our country. 

According to Deloitte's FML Report for 2019 the Top 20 football clubs in the world (all from Europe) have an average stadium size of 62,050 and are on average generating revenue of USD 488.5MM/year per club.  The Top 10 are generating revenue of USD 671.2MM/year per club.

MLS's average stadium size is roughly 23,000 (including Seattle and Atlanta which play in NFL venues).  That is below the average stadium size of the UK's and Germany's second division leagues.

The average stadium size in the EPL is 38,000+ and the average stadium size for the Bundesliga is 47,000+.  

The average MLS franchise is generating approximately USD 35MM/year (based on the 2017 season according to Forbes), while MLS as a whole (including SUM) is generating an annual loss (publicly admitted by MLS) of USD 150MM+.  In fact, since its inception MLS has not generated a profit.  That is over two decades of losses and the prospects for the future are more of the same.

For the USA to become #1 in the world, we have to build a new league and new clubs (with new brands, business models and the revenue to support it) and we have to build club infrastructure (not only stadia, but club headquarters, training facilities, youth programs, etc.).  We need to strive to have clubs in Deloitte's FML Top 20.

Football Clubs v. Soccer Teams and Germany's Bundesliga as a Model

Flamengo is a membership club based in the Gávea neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. What most people outside of Brazil and Latin America do not know is that Flamengo fields teams in basketball, volleyball, tennis, rowing, futsal, swimming, judo and a number of other sports (several Brazilian Olympians have come from Flamengo).  This of course is in addition to being the most popular football club in Brazil with a fan base larger than Argentina's entire population. Every club member receives access to this array of sports when they join (by paying a monthly fee). Needless to say a full-array of weight-lifting and aerobics classes and facilities are available daily to members (Brazil's current political-economic crisis has dramatically impacted football clubs and their ability to offer and support non-football related activities and privileges for club members).

Put another way, Flamengo (and other membership clubs like it) is a branded multi-sport version of the YWCA or the YMCA.

Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires operate under the same club membership format, as do most of the clubs in South America.  Real Madrid has 91,000 paying members.  Barcelona has over 180,000 paying members.  The average annual fee for membership in Barcelona is roughly USD 200.00/year (Barcelona has capped the number of allowable "voting" members). From membership fees alone Barcelona brings in over USD 30MM/year.  That is 7x times the MLS salary cap (USD 4.2MM) per soccer team. 

Germany requires by law (federal) that all football clubs be owned and controlled by the fans (the so-called 50% + 1 share rule which requires the fans to maintain majority voting control).  Bayern Munich (for the 2017-18 campaign 291,000 members) is 75% controlled by the fans, with the other 25% equally split amongst Alliance Insurance, Audi and Adidas.

For the 2016-17 season, Germany's Bundesliga (Divisions 1 and 2, which comprise 36 clubs), broke the 4 billion Euro barrier in terms of revenue (USD 4.69 billion).  34 of the 36 clubs recorded positive EBITDA, with 16 of the top 18 clubs generating positive results after taxes.  

14 of the top 18 Bundesliga clubs generated annual revenue in excess of 100 million Euros (USD 117 million). Total annual taxes and other obligations (including social security, accident insurance, etc.) paid by the 36 clubs was in excess of 1 billion Euros (USD 1.17 billion).  Over the past ten years the Bundesliga has paid the equivalent of almost USD 10 billion to the government and related entities. Lastly, but no less importantly, the Bundesliga employs over 20,000 in the combined first and second divisions (500+ employees per club on average).  A positive contribution to society on all fronts.

In short, grassroots fan and community supported football clubs is not only feasible, it has been done in other countries quite successfully.  Some of the best football clubs in the world follow this model.

Football Clubs, Education & Citizenship

Two of the most successful clubs in the world, Ajax and FC Barcelona, have robust youth programs.  La Masia de Can Planes (or La Masia for short), is Barcelona's youth academy.  It is in fact a school inside the club, which educates, cares for and nurtures over 300 young players.

The idea of having a formal academic institution, a school, inside a football club (or associated with it) is rare in the rest of the world.  It should not be rare in the USA -- it should be the norm and that is what TFM is suggesting.

Fan and community-owned football clubs (remembering the YWCA/YMCA analogy) should either include a co-educational academic institution and/or be associated with a (or several) existing K through 12 school(s) in the community or surrounding neighborhood (having affiliations with already existing youth football clubs in a given metropolitan area is assumed). 

In addition, football clubs should be "open" neighborhood and community educational venues, where youth and adults (both young and old) can come to learn.  Whether the courses or training sessions involve STEM classes, or STEAM classes, yoga, chess/Go, e-sports, etc., football clubs should and must be viewed as 24/7 community resources that are there to provide a platform for continuous life-long learning.  TFM envisions education as an integral part of being a club member.

In addition, these same football clubs can and should serve, where practically feasible, as catalysts of community development and revitalization.  A football club in a city like St. Louis for instance, could have a club headquarters (HQ) centrally located in St. Louis city (which ideally should be the YWCA/YMCA multi-sport version of the TFM vision, which includes a football stadium) and also have satellite club venues for youth in communities as diverse as Ferguson, South St. Louis, East St. Louis, Webster Groves and Chesterfield.  

Part of being a club member, from youth to adulthood, will be involved with understanding how democracy and administration work inside the club.  Exposing our youth to the practical functionality of how democracy works at the grassroots level, will make them seasoned citizens as adults.

TFM's Vision USA 2026

  • 32 FIRST DIVISION CLUBS
  • 32 SECOND DIVISION CLUBS
  • LEAGUE REVENUE AT USD 8 BILLION/YEAR
  • 4 CLUBS IN THE DELOITTE FML TOP 20
  • PROMOTION AND RELEGATION
  • LOWER PROFESSIONAL DIVISIONS STRUCTURED
  • TOP OF THE PYRAMID FULLY INTEGRATED WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID (YOUTH)
  • FANS AND COMMUNITIES AS MEMBER-OWNERS OF FOOTBALL CLUBS
  • PLAYERS AS MEMBER-OWNERS OF FOOTBALL CLUBS
  • MEMBER-OWNERS AS HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF FOOTBALL CLUB MEMBER-OWNERS
  • FOOTBALL CLUBS AS 24/7 COMMUNITY RESOURCES
  • FOOTBALL CLUBS AS COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION PLATFORMS
  • STADIA - AT LEAST TEN (10) NEW FIRST DIVISION STADIA AT 50,000 SEATS AND UP
  • WOMEN AND MEN PLAYING UNDER THE SAME CLUB BRAND
  • NEW FOOTBALL CLUB BRANDS TO RIVAL THE GREAT CLUB BRANDS FROM EUROPE AND LATIN AMERICA
  • GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE SALARY CAP
  • BOSMAN RULE FOR THE AMERICAS

From One Person to 1%

The USA has a population of 328 million people.  TFM's goal for this grassroots football movement is to secure support from 1% of the U.S. population -- or 3.28 million people (conservative estimates are that there are 80 million hard-core football fans in the USA).  

Today, the TFM movement consists of one person, me.  

I believe in the power of ideas, and especially of an idea whose time has come. 

Fan and community member-owned football clubs is an idea whose time has come.  

Football clubs as multi-sport social and educational (e.g., STEM courses, yoga, etc.) venues is an idea whose time has come -- particularly in the context of community revitalization and economic development.  Football clubs will create jobs.  They will also take kids off the streets.  This can and will occur in our inner-city neighborhoods, our suburbs and even in our rural areas.  Football can bridge the red state-blue state divide. Football can and will provide a sense of purpose in people's lives.  And the TFM strategy will, for the first time, provide millions of young people from youth to the professional ranks (men and women) with a tangible dream of playing with and against the best footballers in the world -- amidst a true football culture (which does not exist today) in the USA.  

The World Cup and the Olympics occur for one month every four years.  

TFM is a strategy for the other three (3) years and ten (10) months.

For the men, competing in the World Cup and possibly winning it, will simply be an ancillary benefit.

WHAT YOUR PATREON CONTRIBUTION WILL DO!!!

"Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.  Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content.  .  .  .  And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening."
-- Tom Goodwin

1.  Allow for the legal, design and mobile technology steps to be taken to make this dream a reality.
2.  Allow for the creation of a multi-media video-driven graphic novel second edition of TFM (TFM II) which will be an A-to-Z Toolkit for fans and/or communities to establish, manage and grow their fan/community member-owned football clubs (the contents of TFM II will include strategies on how to originate a truly unique (killer) club brand, how to manage a democratically administered club, how to leverage all things digital to create sustainable social multi-media campaigns, fundraising, all aspects of real estate, club and youth programs, in addition to sports training, merchandising, sponsorships, TV/digital, club competitions, etc.).
3.  Allow for the launch of a new professional league and the launch of the first 16 football clubs (nationwide).
4.  Allow for the creation of a digital/mobile all-purpose monetization platform for the sport (along the lines of Major League Baseball Advanced Media), including apps, podcasts, a YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram strategy, etc.
5.  Our research indicates that the new league and the first sixteen (16) clubs will cost USD 500,000 each to launch.  Our immediate goal therefore is USD 500,000. Our expectation is to create a snowball effect with the league and each club launch via social and multi-media, that will awaken the football army that now sleeps in the USA.
6.  Of the first 16 clubs, we expect that at least two (2) of the clubs will have Tier 1 global brands and that at least four (4) of the clubs will have Tier 2 brands with nationwide appeal (meaning fan support from various regions around the country). Our expectation is that a Tier 1 brand will attract a minimum of 75,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee, and that a Tier 2 brand will attract a minimum of 50,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee, and finally that a Tier 3 brand will attract a minimum of 25,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee. We expect this kind of fan support only after the formal launch of the full corporate image and digital (social media) strategy of the league and each club (re:  Step 3 referred to above).  In other words, we do not expect grassroots support to appear simply based on the launch of TFM (on Amazon) and this Patreon initiative (Step 2) alone.  Step 3 (TFM II, the launch of the new league and new clubs, etc.) is the crucial piece of the puzzle, and by supporting this Patreon initiative you will be one of the Founders of this new league and the new football clubs.
7.  As we scale with your support, the quality and scope of our merchandising will improve.  As Founders you will accompany that growth with additional benefits to be determined in the future.

       "Meditation is to the East, what Sports is to the West"
-- Michael Murphy, Co-Founder, The Esalen Institute

ALL INFORMATION HEREIN AND RELATED TO TFM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND ANY INFORMATION ALLEGED TO BE FACTUAL IS BASED ON RESEARCH FROM PUBLICLY AVAILABLE SOURCES OR PRIVATE SOURCES THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE RELIABLE. WHILE THE INFORMATION HAS BEEN VERIFIED TO THE GREATEST EXTENT POSSIBLE IT IS NOT INFORMATION THAT SHOULD BE USED OR DEPENDED UPON IN ANY WAY TO MAKE A DECISION OF ANY KIND.  THE INFORMATION ABOUT ANY AND ALL ASPECTS OF TFM AND ITS CRITIQUE OF THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE USA IS SUBJECT TO FURTHER INVESTIGATION AND POSSIBLE QUALIFICATION OR OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL AS TO ITS VERACITY.  NOTHING HEREIN WITH RESPECT TO TFM SHOULD BE RELIED ON TO MAKE AN INVESTMENT DECISION.  NOTHING HEREIN WITH RESPECT TO TFM IN ANY FORM IS AN OFFER OF OR A PROMISE TO SELL SECURITIES NOW OR IN THE FUTURE. ANY STATEMENTS ABOUT THE FUTURE ARE PURELY SPECULATIVE.  THIRD PARTY DECISIONS BASED ON THE CONTENTS AS DESCRIBED HEREIN OR IN TFM ITSELF (OR IN ANY SUCCESSIVE VERSIONS OF TFM) WILL IN NO WAY BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHOR OF TFM OR PATREON. 

[1]  In 1990, the population of the USA was approximately 248 million.  In 2019, the population is 328 million.  That increase of roughly 80 million (coincidentally very close to the population of Germany, one of our key benchmarks) is mostly composed of people who come from already established football cultures.  Put another way, the USA has already created the equivalent of a football-fanatic Germany inside itself.  Those fans simply lack a product that they can feel passionate about and monetize against. TFM is about creating for the first time in the USA, the football culture that triggers and sustains that passion, and that in turn releases that pent-up monetization potential and consumer demand.
[2]  Taking the USA to the pinnacle of the sport by becoming #1 in men's football is our challenge, because the women in the USA have already gotten there.  The women do not have the league they deserve, despite their global accomplishments -- but they are without question the only reference point in the USA for the global standard of on-field football excellence.  This idea and the crucial role of women in the TFM vision is explored more thoroughly in the book.




Tiers
TFM Founder
$10 or more per month

The salt-of-the-earth grassroots football supporter who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world.

TFM Founder (Bronze)
$100 or more per month

The grassroots football fanatic who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world and who wakes up early on Saturday morning to catch the EPL.

TFM Founder (Silver)
$1,000 or more per month

The grassroots football obsessive who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world, and who not only wakes up early on Saturday morning to catch the EPL, but goes to the local bar to do it and who may also catch a game or two of the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and/or Ligue 1.

TFM Founder (Gold)
$2,500 or more per month

The grassroots football addict.  The gal/guy who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world, and is willing and able to make a significant contribution to make it happen. This person wants to see real substantive change take place and knows deep down inside that something is seriously wrong, and that only a comprehensive visionary approach like TFM's will turn the tide. 

TFM Founder (Platinum)
$5,000 or more per month

This is the person who not only wants to see the USA become #1 in the world of football, but has dreamed of the USA winning the World Cup!  She/he knows that the key is the creation of a true football culture in the USA, and that that culture can only be created with the launch of a new branding and business model strategy at the league and club level, that places an emphasis on fan and community owned and operated football clubs.  

TFM Founder (Black)
$10,000 or more per month

This is the person who not only wants to see the USA become #1 in the world of football, but wants to play the most significant role possible in supporting TFM's efforts to transform the USA into a true football nation and create a true football culture.   

"Sport has the power to change the world.  It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.  It speaks to youth in a language they understand.  Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair.  It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.  It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination."
-- Nelson Mandela

The Football Manifesto and Club Handbook:  Bringing the Beautiful Game to the People and Making the USA #1 in the World
is now out on Amazon.  

Please buy it, read it, recommend it to your friends who love the beautiful game and give it a 5-star customer review on Amazon.

My name is Robert Wilson.  I am the author of The Football Manifesto (TFM).  I am also a citizen of the USA. 

WC19

TFM was launched on Amazon in anticipation of WC18 in Russia.  Now that the USWNT has won WC19 in France, TFM is even more relevant!!!

While I am in favor of "equal pay" for the USWNT, TFM's position (and mine) is two-fold:

First, given the accomplishments of the USWNT (4-time World Cup Champions and 4-time Olympic Gold Medalists), they should not be paid equally to the USMNT, they should be paid more. 

Second, even with equal pay or even if the USWNT is paid more than the USMNT, the deeper structural problems of football in the USA will persist.  Resolving the equal pay question for the USWNT is very important, but alone it will not create the mechanisms of restructuring that the sport sorely needs if the USA is to become #1 in the world on both the women's side and the men's. 

TFM identifies and addresses in detail the chronic challenges facing football (soccer) in the USA and points towards a comprehensive solution for the entire football pyramid (from youth to the pros).

Let me begin by making some "key" points about the challenges that the USA is facing (additional "key" points and much more detail and analysis is available in the book).

Point #1:  Under the current rules and regulations of U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM (all of which is sanctioned by FIFA), Real Madrid, Barcelona, Swansea City and 33 of the 36 clubs that comprise the Bundesliga (i.e., Divisions 1 and 2) would be "illegal" in the USA.  They could not exist.  They could not exist, because fan and/or community ownership of football clubs is not allowed in the USA.

Point #2:  Since 1968, with the founding of the original North American Soccer League (NASL), and since then on both the women's and the men's professional league side of the equation, no league (and there have been a number of incarnations) has ever generated a profit.  MLS, the most successful league to date, has had 24 straight years of losses (MLS has publicly acknowledged USD 150MM/year in losses).  Cumulatively, that is over 50 consecutive years of losses.  The patented response from the top is that progress is being made and that it takes time.  As TFM shows it is much more complicated than that.

Point #3:  The USWNT at WC19 was a resounding success. In my opinion, WC19 was just as impressive as WC18.  Prior to WC19, there was general concern that the rest of the world was "catching up" to the USWNT.  They didn't catch up this time.  But don't be deceived by WC19.  The rest of the world, particularly Europe, is catching up to the USWNT.  Of the eight (8) teams in the WC19 quarter-finals all were from Europe except the USWNT. 

The top European football leagues and the football clubs that comprise those leagues are fielding women's teams.  Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, etc. are fielding women's teams alongside the men's teams (WC19's final game in Lyon is symbolic of what is going on).  The NCAA will not be enough.  Nor will NWSL.  The gap will close sooner than we realize.

Without a complete and let's face it, massive restructuring of the entire football pyramid, the global reign of the USWNT (the only global standard of excellence that the USA has) will be threatened.

Point #4:  The priority in any discussion of restructuring football in the USA has to focus on one subject and one subject only -- namely, the creation of world-class football clubs and a world-class league.  After 24 years, there is not one world-class football club in MLS (or the USA). 

By world-class I mean a men's side capable of competing in any of the top European football leagues or either the Brazilian or Argentinian top-tier leagues, and winding up at a mid-table position.  No team in MLS is even close.

NWSL as a separate women's league will not be able to compete in the short, medium much less long-term, with top-tier European clubs that are fielding both men's and women's teams.  

For those who believe that promotion & relegation is the solution, it isn't.  The only way that Pro/Rel can work in the USA is with a complete deconstruction of MLS's business model and the complete revamping of U.S. Soccer's Professional League Standards (PLS).  In short, a restructuring of the entire football pyramid in the USA is needed.  That is, if we want to have/maintain the goal of the USA becoming #1 in the world in both the women's and men's game, which is TFM's mandate.

Point #5:  Despite the accomplishments of the USWNT, we have to face the facts.  The World Cup and the Olympics only come around once every four years.  For the other three years and ten months, we have to have a domestic focus. 

MLS and NWSL are respectively for the men and the women, the two top-tier professional leagues in the USA.  Despite MLS's longevity and in spite of NWSL's survival so far (in comparison to the prior all-women's league attempts), the USA still does not have a football culture.  U.S. Soccer, MLS/SUM and NWSL (and the leagues below) have been unable to create it.  

TFM outlines a path to get there -- to create for the first time a true football culture in the USA.

Introduction

Since 1997, I have lived and worked in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  

I have been a fan of the beautiful game for decades and have followed the developments of football closely in Brazil, the USA and globally.  

After the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I started a blog focused on the beautiful game with a particular focus on the USA.  I tried to answer a simple question -- why in the USA, the richest country in the world, has men's and women's football (soccer) met with such difficulty, particularly given the fact that American football (the NFL), baseball (Major League Baseball (MLB)), basketball (the NBA) and hockey (the NHL), represent the global standard of excellence on and off the field/court/ice.  

In their respective sports those four (4) leagues (the Big 4) are the best in the world. Why doesn't football in the USA represent the global standard of excellence? Why doesn't the USA have the best football league in the world?  

The blog and the ongoing research to support it led to some fascinating discoveries (see below).  Those discoveries and the evidence to support those discoveries formed the basis of TFM.   

TFM is also a strategy in response to those discoveries, to create for the first time a true football culture in the USA and to transform the USA into the #1 football nation on the planet. 

TFM is a blueprint for a grassroots movement to create the best football league in the world in the USA (for both the women and the men).  Our principal on-field model is Brazil and our principal off-field/administrative model is Germany's Bundesliga -- with obvious adaptations for the USA (see below).

What Does Creating a True Football Culture in the USA Mean?

Brazil is the only 5-time winner of the FIFA Men's World Cup, and represents the quintessence of football culture.  The question, however, presents itself -- how can a true football culture be created in the USA?   

In attempting to answer that question, and in the course of my research, one of the inspirations I came across was a book by Steve Stoute called The Tanning of America.  Put briefly, the demographic changes that have taken place in the USA, particularly since 1990 (population: 250MM) until today (population:  328MM), have set the stage for a remarkably rich cultural mosaic (both in the USA and Canada). 

Tanning is a phenomenon that reflects the melding together and celebration of racial, ethnic, gender, religious and cultural backgrounds, often with a youth-focused undercurrent of urban, hip-hop and cultural-creatives across a digitized network of global villages.

Tanning is a process of inclusion not exclusion.  It is also a reflection of a deep tribal connection across our species.

Tanning manifests itself in music, the arts, fashion, design, politics, business and penetrates all aspects of society, including sports.  Tanning has to do with interior mental landscapes.  We can all be tan.

No two countries are better positioned to exploit the tanning of football globally, than the United States of America and Canada.

The next great harvest of football brands that have global impact will be created in the USA and Canada.

The process of discovering these new brands requires an unprecedented plunge into the collective psychic, cultural and historical depths of the USA's and Canada's evolving demographics.  It is there that we find the essence of football's tanning and branding potential.

The argument for rebranding football (see below) is based on one simple fact -- Football is more than a sport -- in and of itself, it is a culture. 

The Football Manifesto (TFM) Strategy

TFM is the first step in the creation of a nationwide grassroots movement in the USA to place the sport of football (to be distinguished from "American football" of the National Football League (NFL) variety) firmly and permanently in the hands of its fans.

Step 1 is to buy TFM on Amazon.  Step 2 is to provide your support on Patreon!!!

Step 2 will support Step 3, which comprises the (1) legal, (2) design, and (3) technological strategy and mechanisms to rebrand and restructure football in the USA.

Step 3 will entail:

(i) rebranding the sport from the top of the pyramid (the pros) to the bottom (youth) by introducing new football club brands that rival the best brands from Europe and Latin America,

(ii) introducing a new professional league and new football club business models that have established track records of proven success elsewhere (again from Europe and Latin America), 

(iii) maintaining the global standard of excellence for league and club on-field performance and off-field administration, where the English Premier League (EPL) and the German Bundesliga are the league benchmarks of excellence, and Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, etc. represent the club benchmarks of excellence, and

(iv) using mobile technology and monetization to get us there.  What mobile apps did for accommodations (Airbnb) and urban transportation (Uber), TFM's mobile monetization strategy will do for football.

Today, we do not have merchandise to share with you, our grassroots supporters. These three (3) steps will create that merchandise and much much more.

To become #1 in the world, we will have create a new league and to begin with, at least sixteen (16) football clubs in the USA capable of competing in and maintaining their position in any first division league in Europe (re:  the Big 5:  the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France) or in Brazil or Argentina (collectively our benchmarks of global excellence for leagues and clubs).

What You Need to Know

Your Patreon contribution will make you a Founder!!!

A Founder of a new league and new clubs.  Football clubs that are structured to have fans and/or communities as their heart and soul and as member-owners in a democratically administered organization (with varying degrees of administrative responsibility both on-field and off-field depending on the club's business model, see below).

Existing leagues and clubs will be able to migrate to this new format and structure.  Those individual owners (or owner-operators) that want to maintain their status quo ownership stake will be able to do so, with obvious adaptations to the demands of league and club revenue maximization.

About Rebranding Football.  The Big 4 (the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the NHL) represent 123 teams and collectively generate more than USD 25 billion a year in revenue.  The Big 4 also represent a generic branding model. The Big 4's branding model has saturated the USA's marketplace for that particular approach to branding. Even so, and since 1968, with the founding of the original North American Soccer League (NASL) and for all football (soccer) league incarnations since (men and women) football has adopted that same Big 4 branding strategy. The most recent adjustments to that branding strategy (principally by MLS) have involved adding FC, RealSporting, United, and the like, along with the city's name.  

Part of football's problem in the USA is the attempt to carve out marketshare with a branding model that has already saturated the marketplace.

Suffice it to say that there are three (3) tiers of football club brands:  

Tier 1
 brands like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, etc., monetize globally.  Tier 2 brands would monetize nationwide in the USA.  Tier 3 brands are local or regional brands that limit their revenue generating and social impact to a given metropolitan area or region.

The USA has never produced a Tier 2 much less a Tier 1 football club brand.  MLS is composed of Tier 3 brands exclusively.  TFM is about producing all three, with an emphasis on Tiers 1 and 2.

About Football League and Club Revenue and Business Models.  There are five (5) football club revenue drivers, and five (5) football club business models.

The five (5) revenue drivers of football clubs are:  (i) venues (principally match day revenue), (ii) on-field product distribution (TV/digital revenue), (iii) off-field product distribution (commercial revenue in the form of merchandising, sponsorships, etc.), (iv) managing talent, and (v) packaging productions (regional, national and global competitions).   

The five (5) football club business models are:  the Barcelona Model (the fans are club members who vote and who control 100% of the club's administration on the field and off), the Bayern Munich Model (the fans maintain majority voting control of the club's administration on the field and off (the so-called 50% + 1 share rule)), the Swansea City Model (the fans maintain a minority stake (less than 50% voting control) while a high net worth individual (HNWI) or group of HNWIs maintains voting control), the Chelsea Model (where one HNWI or group of HNWIs controls all aspects (100%) of club administration), and the MLS Model (where only HNWIs may join as owner-operators, where they collectively invest in one legal vehicle (in this case a Delaware LLC) and secure in return a license for a given geographic area to operate a team -- MLS "centralizes" administration of all player contracts and player movement, standardizing and limiting avenues for revenue generation at the club level, while delegating responsibility for stadium construction and maintenance to the owner-operators).  

MLS's principal source of operating revenue is gate receipts (the other four (4) revenue drivers are dramatically underperforming when compared to our global benchmarks).  

In Europe, the epicenter of global football, all five (5) revenue streams are maximized, with TV/digital revenue as the primary driver, with strong complements from commercial revenue (sponsorships, merchandising, etc.) and venues.  MLS's current TV contract is USD 90MM/year, of which 1/3 is commonly acknowledged to be shared with U.S. Soccer.  By contrast, the EPL's TV contract is USD 2.7 billion/year.  

TFM takes a deep dive into the details, impacts and strategies of branding, revenue and business models.  TFM asks and answers how and why these basic tools are being used in the USA to limit the upside potential of the sport and also simultaneously maintain the status quo of a dysfunctional football pyramid, that sells MLS as a legitimate Division 1 league, when in actuality it is a second or even third division league (on and off the field) based on the global standard of excellence.  

Why is a Grassroots Movement for Football Necessary in the USA?  

Simply put, the NFL, for all practical purposes, controls both U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer (MLS)/Soccer United Marketing (SUM)(MLS/SUM), and as a result the latter two organizations are working together to artificially "cap" the upside potential of football (again, please read TFM for the details, particularly Chapters 1, 4, 5 and 6.1).  

Here are some important facts:

  • According to Deloitte's latest Football Money League (FML) report (2019), Real Madrid had more revenue in the 2017-18 season than any club (in any sport) in history at 750.9MM Euros (USD 879.1MM).  That is more revenue than the entire MLS/SUM revenue for 23 teams in 2018. One club in Spain generated more revenue than the entire top-flight professional football league in the USA and Canada, two of the richest countries in the world.

  • Manchester City's payroll (approximately USD 215MM) is the rough equivalent of the entire payroll for all 24 teams in MLS (2019 season).

  • The average individual player salary of the top clubs in the EPL is virtually equivalent to the salary cap (USD 4.2MM) for an entire MLS squad.

What is the Motivation for US Soccer-MLS/SUM to Purposefully and Quite Strategically Hold the Sport of Football Back?

The reasoning is simple and straight-forward.  70% of the NFL (American football) players are black.  The pipeline of talent (from Pop Warner through the NCAA) into the NFL from primarily inner-city, suburban and rural communities must be preserved.  

A world-class football league in the USA would threaten that American football pipeline of talent.  African-American youth would/will migrate away from American football to football, when football in the USA pays globally competitive wages to professional athletes.  U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM is there to make sure that that does not happen. 

This is coupled with the fact that the NFL is unilaterally undermining its very own product via the violence and values the sport represents (symbolically and in actuality) -- the concussion (CTE) problem, the short career life span of NFL athletes (3.3 years on average), the toleration of mysogyny and domestic violence, drug use/abuse, other publicly acknowledged criminal behavior, Colin Kaepernick, etc.  

Add in the demographic changes in the USA with Hispanics, European, African, Asian and Latin ethnic groups (the vast majority of whom come from football cultures) and the marketplace is set for a football explosion. [1]  

That football explosion is exactly what U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM are there to avoid.  

U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM represents the lid on the pressure cooker of demand for football in the USA.  

U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM's primary purpose, their raison d'être is to make sure football does not become what it could become, namely, a world-class sport in the USA -- a sport which competes at least on a par with the EPL, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A, from the standpoint of revenue generation.  Their secondary purpose, which is what is sold to the public at large (including FIFA) is that they are valiantly bringing "soccer" to the USA.

So why is TFM's grassroots movement necessary in the USA?

Because without such a grassroots movement the NFL's idea of the status quo as represented (for over two decades) by U.S. Soccer-MLS/SUM, will not change.

The USA has a Long Storied Tradition of Rival Professional Sports Leagues

The American Football League (merged with the NFL), the World Hockey Association (merged with the NHL) and the American Basketball Association (merged with the NBA), and all of these rival leagues represented creative cutting edge innovative approaches to their respective sports.  

However, there is a difference worthy of note.  In the case of the six leagues cited, all six represented the global standard of excellence.  Their respective goals were the same -- to be the best in the world.  

Today, the USA maintains the global standard of excellence in four team sports: American football (NFL), baseball (MLB), men's basketball (the NBA), women's basketball (WNBA) and in hockey (the NHL).  The absolute best athletes in the world come to the USA to play in those leagues.

The exception is football (soccer).  MLS/SUM does not represent the global standard of excellence.  While NWSL is a valiant attempt to keep the women's domestic game alive, it too pales in comparison to the women's teams being fielded by some of the world's great football clubs in Europe.

TFM is about establishing, sustaining and growing that global standard of excellence in football in the USA (for both the women and the men), with a new professional football league and new clubs.

There is only one way to do this.  We have to have the goal of becoming #1 in the world [2].

Anyone who settles for "being amongst the best in the world" is selling you snake-oil. Anyone who makes that statement does not want the USA to be the best, much less #1 in the world, and does not want to bring the global standard of football excellence to our country. 

According to Deloitte's FML Report for 2019 the Top 20 football clubs in the world (all from Europe) have an average stadium size of 62,050 and are on average generating revenue of USD 488.5MM/year per club.  The Top 10 are generating revenue of USD 671.2MM/year per club.

MLS's average stadium size is roughly 23,000 (including Seattle and Atlanta which play in NFL venues).  That is below the average stadium size of the UK's and Germany's second division leagues.

The average stadium size in the EPL is 38,000+ and the average stadium size for the Bundesliga is 47,000+.  

The average MLS franchise is generating approximately USD 35MM/year (based on the 2017 season according to Forbes), while MLS as a whole (including SUM) is generating an annual loss (publicly admitted by MLS) of USD 150MM+.  In fact, since its inception MLS has not generated a profit.  That is over two decades of losses and the prospects for the future are more of the same.

For the USA to become #1 in the world, we have to build a new league and new clubs (with new brands, business models and the revenue to support it) and we have to build club infrastructure (not only stadia, but club headquarters, training facilities, youth programs, etc.).  We need to strive to have clubs in Deloitte's FML Top 20.

Football Clubs v. Soccer Teams and Germany's Bundesliga as a Model

Flamengo is a membership club based in the Gávea neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. What most people outside of Brazil and Latin America do not know is that Flamengo fields teams in basketball, volleyball, tennis, rowing, futsal, swimming, judo and a number of other sports (several Brazilian Olympians have come from Flamengo).  This of course is in addition to being the most popular football club in Brazil with a fan base larger than Argentina's entire population. Every club member receives access to this array of sports when they join (by paying a monthly fee). Needless to say a full-array of weight-lifting and aerobics classes and facilities are available daily to members (Brazil's current political-economic crisis has dramatically impacted football clubs and their ability to offer and support non-football related activities and privileges for club members).

Put another way, Flamengo (and other membership clubs like it) is a branded multi-sport version of the YWCA or the YMCA.

Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires operate under the same club membership format, as do most of the clubs in South America.  Real Madrid has 91,000 paying members.  Barcelona has over 180,000 paying members.  The average annual fee for membership in Barcelona is roughly USD 200.00/year (Barcelona has capped the number of allowable "voting" members). From membership fees alone Barcelona brings in over USD 30MM/year.  That is 7x times the MLS salary cap (USD 4.2MM) per soccer team. 

Germany requires by law (federal) that all football clubs be owned and controlled by the fans (the so-called 50% + 1 share rule which requires the fans to maintain majority voting control).  Bayern Munich (for the 2017-18 campaign 291,000 members) is 75% controlled by the fans, with the other 25% equally split amongst Alliance Insurance, Audi and Adidas.

For the 2016-17 season, Germany's Bundesliga (Divisions 1 and 2, which comprise 36 clubs), broke the 4 billion Euro barrier in terms of revenue (USD 4.69 billion).  34 of the 36 clubs recorded positive EBITDA, with 16 of the top 18 clubs generating positive results after taxes.  

14 of the top 18 Bundesliga clubs generated annual revenue in excess of 100 million Euros (USD 117 million). Total annual taxes and other obligations (including social security, accident insurance, etc.) paid by the 36 clubs was in excess of 1 billion Euros (USD 1.17 billion).  Over the past ten years the Bundesliga has paid the equivalent of almost USD 10 billion to the government and related entities. Lastly, but no less importantly, the Bundesliga employs over 20,000 in the combined first and second divisions (500+ employees per club on average).  A positive contribution to society on all fronts.

In short, grassroots fan and community supported football clubs is not only feasible, it has been done in other countries quite successfully.  Some of the best football clubs in the world follow this model.

Football Clubs, Education & Citizenship

Two of the most successful clubs in the world, Ajax and FC Barcelona, have robust youth programs.  La Masia de Can Planes (or La Masia for short), is Barcelona's youth academy.  It is in fact a school inside the club, which educates, cares for and nurtures over 300 young players.

The idea of having a formal academic institution, a school, inside a football club (or associated with it) is rare in the rest of the world.  It should not be rare in the USA -- it should be the norm and that is what TFM is suggesting.

Fan and community-owned football clubs (remembering the YWCA/YMCA analogy) should either include a co-educational academic institution and/or be associated with a (or several) existing K through 12 school(s) in the community or surrounding neighborhood (having affiliations with already existing youth football clubs in a given metropolitan area is assumed). 

In addition, football clubs should be "open" neighborhood and community educational venues, where youth and adults (both young and old) can come to learn.  Whether the courses or training sessions involve STEM classes, or STEAM classes, yoga, chess/Go, e-sports, etc., football clubs should and must be viewed as 24/7 community resources that are there to provide a platform for continuous life-long learning.  TFM envisions education as an integral part of being a club member.

In addition, these same football clubs can and should serve, where practically feasible, as catalysts of community development and revitalization.  A football club in a city like St. Louis for instance, could have a club headquarters (HQ) centrally located in St. Louis city (which ideally should be the YWCA/YMCA multi-sport version of the TFM vision, which includes a football stadium) and also have satellite club venues for youth in communities as diverse as Ferguson, South St. Louis, East St. Louis, Webster Groves and Chesterfield.  

Part of being a club member, from youth to adulthood, will be involved with understanding how democracy and administration work inside the club.  Exposing our youth to the practical functionality of how democracy works at the grassroots level, will make them seasoned citizens as adults.

TFM's Vision USA 2026

  • 32 FIRST DIVISION CLUBS
  • 32 SECOND DIVISION CLUBS
  • LEAGUE REVENUE AT USD 8 BILLION/YEAR
  • 4 CLUBS IN THE DELOITTE FML TOP 20
  • PROMOTION AND RELEGATION
  • LOWER PROFESSIONAL DIVISIONS STRUCTURED
  • TOP OF THE PYRAMID FULLY INTEGRATED WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID (YOUTH)
  • FANS AND COMMUNITIES AS MEMBER-OWNERS OF FOOTBALL CLUBS
  • PLAYERS AS MEMBER-OWNERS OF FOOTBALL CLUBS
  • MEMBER-OWNERS AS HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF FOOTBALL CLUB MEMBER-OWNERS
  • FOOTBALL CLUBS AS 24/7 COMMUNITY RESOURCES
  • FOOTBALL CLUBS AS COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION PLATFORMS
  • STADIA - AT LEAST TEN (10) NEW FIRST DIVISION STADIA AT 50,000 SEATS AND UP
  • WOMEN AND MEN PLAYING UNDER THE SAME CLUB BRAND
  • NEW FOOTBALL CLUB BRANDS TO RIVAL THE GREAT CLUB BRANDS FROM EUROPE AND LATIN AMERICA
  • GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE SALARY CAP
  • BOSMAN RULE FOR THE AMERICAS

From One Person to 1%

The USA has a population of 328 million people.  TFM's goal for this grassroots football movement is to secure support from 1% of the U.S. population -- or 3.28 million people (conservative estimates are that there are 80 million hard-core football fans in the USA).  

Today, the TFM movement consists of one person, me.  

I believe in the power of ideas, and especially of an idea whose time has come. 

Fan and community member-owned football clubs is an idea whose time has come.  

Football clubs as multi-sport social and educational (e.g., STEM courses, yoga, etc.) venues is an idea whose time has come -- particularly in the context of community revitalization and economic development.  Football clubs will create jobs.  They will also take kids off the streets.  This can and will occur in our inner-city neighborhoods, our suburbs and even in our rural areas.  Football can bridge the red state-blue state divide. Football can and will provide a sense of purpose in people's lives.  And the TFM strategy will, for the first time, provide millions of young people from youth to the professional ranks (men and women) with a tangible dream of playing with and against the best footballers in the world -- amidst a true football culture (which does not exist today) in the USA.  

The World Cup and the Olympics occur for one month every four years.  

TFM is a strategy for the other three (3) years and ten (10) months.

For the men, competing in the World Cup and possibly winning it, will simply be an ancillary benefit.

WHAT YOUR PATREON CONTRIBUTION WILL DO!!!

"Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.  Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content.  .  .  .  And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening."
-- Tom Goodwin

1.  Allow for the legal, design and mobile technology steps to be taken to make this dream a reality.
2.  Allow for the creation of a multi-media video-driven graphic novel second edition of TFM (TFM II) which will be an A-to-Z Toolkit for fans and/or communities to establish, manage and grow their fan/community member-owned football clubs (the contents of TFM II will include strategies on how to originate a truly unique (killer) club brand, how to manage a democratically administered club, how to leverage all things digital to create sustainable social multi-media campaigns, fundraising, all aspects of real estate, club and youth programs, in addition to sports training, merchandising, sponsorships, TV/digital, club competitions, etc.).
3.  Allow for the launch of a new professional league and the launch of the first 16 football clubs (nationwide).
4.  Allow for the creation of a digital/mobile all-purpose monetization platform for the sport (along the lines of Major League Baseball Advanced Media), including apps, podcasts, a YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram strategy, etc.
5.  Our research indicates that the new league and the first sixteen (16) clubs will cost USD 500,000 each to launch.  Our immediate goal therefore is USD 500,000. Our expectation is to create a snowball effect with the league and each club launch via social and multi-media, that will awaken the football army that now sleeps in the USA.
6.  Of the first 16 clubs, we expect that at least two (2) of the clubs will have Tier 1 global brands and that at least four (4) of the clubs will have Tier 2 brands with nationwide appeal (meaning fan support from various regions around the country). Our expectation is that a Tier 1 brand will attract a minimum of 75,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee, and that a Tier 2 brand will attract a minimum of 50,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee, and finally that a Tier 3 brand will attract a minimum of 25,000 fans willing to pay a monthly membership fee. We expect this kind of fan support only after the formal launch of the full corporate image and digital (social media) strategy of the league and each club (re:  Step 3 referred to above).  In other words, we do not expect grassroots support to appear simply based on the launch of TFM (on Amazon) and this Patreon initiative (Step 2) alone.  Step 3 (TFM II, the launch of the new league and new clubs, etc.) is the crucial piece of the puzzle, and by supporting this Patreon initiative you will be one of the Founders of this new league and the new football clubs.
7.  As we scale with your support, the quality and scope of our merchandising will improve.  As Founders you will accompany that growth with additional benefits to be determined in the future.

       "Meditation is to the East, what Sports is to the West"
-- Michael Murphy, Co-Founder, The Esalen Institute

ALL INFORMATION HEREIN AND RELATED TO TFM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND ANY INFORMATION ALLEGED TO BE FACTUAL IS BASED ON RESEARCH FROM PUBLICLY AVAILABLE SOURCES OR PRIVATE SOURCES THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE RELIABLE. WHILE THE INFORMATION HAS BEEN VERIFIED TO THE GREATEST EXTENT POSSIBLE IT IS NOT INFORMATION THAT SHOULD BE USED OR DEPENDED UPON IN ANY WAY TO MAKE A DECISION OF ANY KIND.  THE INFORMATION ABOUT ANY AND ALL ASPECTS OF TFM AND ITS CRITIQUE OF THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE USA IS SUBJECT TO FURTHER INVESTIGATION AND POSSIBLE QUALIFICATION OR OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL AS TO ITS VERACITY.  NOTHING HEREIN WITH RESPECT TO TFM SHOULD BE RELIED ON TO MAKE AN INVESTMENT DECISION.  NOTHING HEREIN WITH RESPECT TO TFM IN ANY FORM IS AN OFFER OF OR A PROMISE TO SELL SECURITIES NOW OR IN THE FUTURE. ANY STATEMENTS ABOUT THE FUTURE ARE PURELY SPECULATIVE.  THIRD PARTY DECISIONS BASED ON THE CONTENTS AS DESCRIBED HEREIN OR IN TFM ITSELF (OR IN ANY SUCCESSIVE VERSIONS OF TFM) WILL IN NO WAY BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHOR OF TFM OR PATREON. 

[1]  In 1990, the population of the USA was approximately 248 million.  In 2019, the population is 328 million.  That increase of roughly 80 million (coincidentally very close to the population of Germany, one of our key benchmarks) is mostly composed of people who come from already established football cultures.  Put another way, the USA has already created the equivalent of a football-fanatic Germany inside itself.  Those fans simply lack a product that they can feel passionate about and monetize against. TFM is about creating for the first time in the USA, the football culture that triggers and sustains that passion, and that in turn releases that pent-up monetization potential and consumer demand.
[2]  Taking the USA to the pinnacle of the sport by becoming #1 in men's football is our challenge, because the women in the USA have already gotten there.  The women do not have the league they deserve, despite their global accomplishments -- but they are without question the only reference point in the USA for the global standard of on-field football excellence.  This idea and the crucial role of women in the TFM vision is explored more thoroughly in the book.




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Tiers
TFM Founder
$10 or more per month

The salt-of-the-earth grassroots football supporter who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world.

TFM Founder (Bronze)
$100 or more per month

The grassroots football fanatic who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world and who wakes up early on Saturday morning to catch the EPL.

TFM Founder (Silver)
$1,000 or more per month

The grassroots football obsessive who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world, and who not only wakes up early on Saturday morning to catch the EPL, but goes to the local bar to do it and who may also catch a game or two of the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and/or Ligue 1.

TFM Founder (Gold)
$2,500 or more per month

The grassroots football addict.  The gal/guy who wants to see the USA become #1 in the world, and is willing and able to make a significant contribution to make it happen. This person wants to see real substantive change take place and knows deep down inside that something is seriously wrong, and that only a comprehensive visionary approach like TFM's will turn the tide. 

TFM Founder (Platinum)
$5,000 or more per month

This is the person who not only wants to see the USA become #1 in the world of football, but has dreamed of the USA winning the World Cup!  She/he knows that the key is the creation of a true football culture in the USA, and that that culture can only be created with the launch of a new branding and business model strategy at the league and club level, that places an emphasis on fan and community owned and operated football clubs.  

TFM Founder (Black)
$10,000 or more per month

This is the person who not only wants to see the USA become #1 in the world of football, but wants to play the most significant role possible in supporting TFM's efforts to transform the USA into a true football nation and create a true football culture.