Tuesday, 19 October 2010

FC Barcerlona: If you want a future,dont mess with a 14 years old member

Fans and club, being as close as that!

Barça Beeckman is the first member of FC Barcelona to be named after the club and is now number 185,508.
"A Belgian couple have called their first son Barça and he has already become the first club member to have the name. The pair told the media they chose the moniker because "they liked it".

Taking inspiration from the verse "tinc un nom que el sap tothom, Barça, Barça, Barça" (I have a name that everyone knows, Barça, Barça, Barça) from the Blaugrana hymn the new arrival has the full name Barça Beeckman and he lives 60 kilometres outside of Brussels in Nieuwerkerk. Aged three the youngster was made a member of the Camp Nou club on July 19 by his father Wesley Beeckman, 23, an architecture student, and mother Anneke Maes, 24, a nurse."

Game on
IMG_0400.JPGDuring the pregnancy the couple could not reach an agreement for a name for the baby as they did not want to know the sex until he was born. In the end they settled on the name Lona if the baby was a girl.

With a decision about the name if it was a boy in full swing the pair were watching Pep Guardiola's team play when Anneke had a bright idea. "Suddenly, I said to my husband that if we had a boy then would he want to call him Barça," she explained. "He turned towards me and winked before saying 'yes, that is the name of my son'".

Surprise, surprise
On April 26 Anneke gave birth in Sint-Truiden and Barça came into the world. "We were convinced that it would be a girl," Anneke continued. "My family did not know what to say at the start and they were not keen, but now they are used to the name. People had to ask me twice what his name was early on and everyone has said it is the first time they have heard the name used." Wesley's relatives were happier. "My father liked it as soon as he heard it," he stated.

Firm fans
Despite the relatives' initial dismay the couple are "very proud that our son carries the name of the best football team in the world" Anneke commented. Anneke and Wesley are keen FC Barcelona fans and he plays for his local team VCT Terkoest Alken.

"We hope that when he grows up that he will like his name and understand why we gave it to him," Anneke added.  Official Site

What Mr.Wesley Beeckman and Mrs. Anneke Maes were not aware of, is that two months later this child will be their only certificate to prove they deserve being Barcelona members, based on the new regulations. If you are a Belgian and you still has no child named Barca, then you are not welcomed. Fix your records first.

There was a huge mess recently regarding membership regulations at FC Barcelona. There is a feeling that the club that was hailed as the fans’ club, became after the most recent regulations a family-like-business. Before diving in the consequences and taking positions, it is important to shed a light on the membership idea itself, and try to figure the stitches hidden between the lines of the recent changes. Then, asking the big question: Will such changes help Catalonia or the Catalan identity of the club? Because protecting the Catalan soul of the club is the axe of the wheels in this matter. 

Is Barcelona’s membership system that unique in football world? At the end of the day, almost at any club, you can buy a share or stock and there you are, a partner. In fact, that makes you more a club owner than the membership of Barcelona. In some clubs, you can even expect some dividends in the following few years. You won’t get enough for models to propose to you, but you got my point. Moreover, you pay just once, not once every year. If next year you had some cash, instead of spending it just to survive as a member, you can buy more shares and that makes you more owner-istic. Based on your shares value you can vote, contribute in decisions making, and –unlike membership-no one can take that away from you, as all the courts of the world protect your rights. If you need your share no more, you can simply sell it and get back your money. Some clubs will beg you to buy shares, because that will finance their books as well. Again, all the mentioned should be considered on a microscopic level compared to the big clubs finance, but it will still mean a big thing for a fan.

That’s exactly where membership at Barcelona gets the credit. It is not a financial alternative but a commitment. It does not generate immense profit for the club. At least, not as much as Barcelona fans may think it does. At the same time, it barely has any tangible benefits for the massive majority of the members if you think about it. What makes Barcelona’s membership unique though, is the fact that all the fans are equal under the membership umbrella. There are no elite and tweet classes between the club owners based on how many shares you own. At Barcelona everyone is (was) equal from the most distinct fan to the club’s directors. That gives Barcelona’s membership the edge over shares based clubs. And obviously, it is (was) way better than clubs owned permanently and eternally by one or many partners who inherit the club from father to son –to cousin- while the rest of the fans are just: Customers.

First of all, let’s put the mentioned regulations in their right perspective, instead of playing hide and seek. It’s a strategy that was supposed to counter the increase of none Catalan members in the last few years, threatening the club’s identity. During the election campaign, the current board thoroughly expressed their concerns about having 50, 000 Chinese fans. There were suggestions that such regulations will affect Catalan and none Catalan fans equally as it says: “All Barca fans who are not members will not be allowed to apply for membership unless if they have cousins registered as members etc…” They didn’t say “all none Catalan fans” they said “all fans”. So, where did this none Catalan argument come from? Shame on you, conspiracy psychos!

See, this is one thing I don’t like. Call me unwanted, call me unaccepted, call me –shudder- a foreign. But don’t assume that I am stupid. First, taking it from a hypothetical perspective, after generations where membership was exclusively a Catalan loaf, one can only wonder those –over 14 years old- Catalans who are yet to become members, have no cousins who are members, and never been members before nor their parents or their grandparents or eternal parents ever been. How far they will be interested to become members now? They are either Espanyol fans or aliens (if there is any difference), or people who have no interest in the whole membership headache. Why after all these decades, the board decided to change the membership regulations at this moment? Coincidence? Success is making Barca membership more appealing to an extend that it started to create chaos. Right (I will come to so-called glory hunters later). Well, this is not the first success cycle in the club’s history. So why THIS time there is a problem?

The increase of club members is not solely related to club success, but most importantly to new technologies, internet, and web applications that made the membership procedure more attainable. For whom? It is also the outcome of the previous board strategy to promote membership to help the rebirth of the club after being in a catastrophic marketing mess. That strategy took place and was approved when Sandro Rosell was still a key member in that (now shame on them) board. And that’s exactly what the new regulations try to block from a standpoint that: “Well, now we have enough of you. The rest need to scatter”. Checked.

But let’s assume that this is categorically untrue. Shame on me, conspiracy psycho! There is still another –smart- hidden stitch there. The percentage of Catalan fans to none Catalan fans at the moment will create an unannounced Permanente Quota on the long term. A thousand members will no doubt have more cousins than ten. No brainer. That serves the current board objective perfectly if you like to take people as numbers, not as values. 

Then, there is this special condition about 14 years old fans who want to become members. I will walk in the field of my ignorance mines now and admit that, I have no clue about this detail. Are the 14 years old children eligible to become members in the first place? Do they have membership rights? I mean, if tomorrow a vote of no confidence took place (Not that I hope or anything…), will a 14 years old boy vote? If not, then hm…why the hell is that child a member? Who is that kid ruining the plants over there in the meeting hall? Take him out! What do you mean I can’t? Because he is the club owner? What do you mean get out? Opps! That’s not fair! A child who was jumping on the desks kicked me out of the club because unlike me he owns the club, or a tiny part of it (the plant he slaughtered maybe).

Not only that, but he is a Barcelona fan who can become a club member while the Pope is not qualified enough (Pope John Paul II was a member, too late for benedict xvi). There is no shame to admit having absolutely no idea about this. But there is one thing I can tell for sure, the explanation spread across the internet doesn’t make any sense. I am certain it is not true. “You can make your brother –who is 14 years old- a member, then based on that you can become a member yourself” Voilà!! People are really underestimating the intelligence of Barcelona’s board of directors. I don’t know where all that come from. Seriously. I mean, what if you convinced Mammy and Daddy to have another Baby. Made him a member. Created your membership based on that, then next year you renewed only yours. The baby will not need it anyway and whenever he wants he can reactivate it for being an old member (old young member to be specific, eh…) or for having a brother –that is you!!!- who is a member – thanks to him!!!. That’s not the case, I am sure. Hm… I hope. 

Because if that’s how far the regulator generator can project inside Barcelona’s board, then expect more entertainment in the following year indoors than on fields.

Next: Bandwagons virus, Catalan identity of the club, and another approach to make things work. (Though a Champions’ league coverage will interrupt). 

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