In a savvy stroke of genius that is sure to not only give the team a healthy dose of publicity but will also give fans a sense of inclusion in the decision-making process and future direction of the franchise unheard of in American professional sports, the Seattle Sounders are providing its fans the opportunity to determine the fate of the Major League Soccer team’s general manager.
Beginning on Oct. 7, members of the “Alliance,” a fan association that includes season ticket holders and fans who are willing to pony up $125 per year, will either vote to “retain” Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer or give him the vote indicating “lack of confidence,” thus effectively deciding if Hanauer will stay on with the team.
The “Alliance” was the creation of Sounders minority investor Drew Carey, and the concept is patterned after how Spanish soccer clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid go about business. And the vote is not a one-time thing: Every four years, the “Alliance” will go through a similar voting process, a philosophy and practice that Carey truly believes in, telling the The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. last year (via Sporting News):
“I had one person say, ‘You let the fans vote? What do the fans know?’ That was exactly the phrase. And I go, ‘Well, the fans know as much as the sports reporters know. The fans know if somebody isn’t doing a good job. Everybody knows.’ That was my argument from the first time I told [Sounders majority owner] Joe Roth about it. I said everybody knows when a general manager’s not doing a good job. It’s no secret.’
“I told Joe, that phrase I used was, ‘The fans will do your dirty work for you.’ Because the fans aren’t going to care,” Carey said. “If Adrian — he’s not, he’s great — but if Adrian was a terrible general manager and really screwing up the team right now, the fans aren’t going to go, ‘Well, man, he’s a nice guy though. He promised he’ll do better next year. I know his family. Let’s give him another year.’ That’s not how they’re going to think. They’re going to go, ‘No. Get rid of this guy,’ the first chance they can.”
What a concept, although there is virtually no chance any of the other major professional sports in the US will follow suit with anything similar to this brilliant idea.
At the same time, something tells me current Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer is not too fond of how his job hangs in the balance of the whims of the team’s fans. Well, I guess it depends on how the vote goes.