As we all know, this site emerged from the ashes of RTC. The wish of the original administrator of the site, one which I wholeheartedly share, was to keep together the wonderful community RTC had built, in terms of both personnel and spirit. There are still many individuals around who were also part of RTC, and regrettably many who are no longer with us. The RTC spirit however, that of a cross-party football site where issues can be discussed in a respectful and insightful manner remains. The “wisdom of the crowd” phenomenon is also with us to perhaps an even greater extent than before, and consequently SFM’s credentials as a formidable alternative to the print media have grown.
In recent times, many contributors have expressed frustration that we are pretty much a talking shop and little else; characterised as “a lot of gum bashing and no teeth”. I think that is fair comment up to a point, but then again our aim – up to now – has been to simply present an alternative view – a view that has increasingly become the fan view as opposed to the industry view (the industry being made up of club officials, players, and press).
In fact the way I see it personally, SFM has evolved to a point where it has become the watchdog (monitor if you will) of an industry which is subject to very little oversight. The Rangers situation will eventually be done with (no laughing at the back please), and like everything else will be consigned to history (albeit more than one). The same self-interest and lack of regard for sporting integrity though will still remain, and the need for oversight will remain also.
Having arrived at those conclusions, we have two alternatives; the first is to remain as we are (which is not a bad place to be), and the second is that SFM has to expand its role.
In recent weeks, the mods have met to discuss this, and we think that we ought to give the latter option a try. As to how we want to achieve that, and we have come up with a skeleton plan as follows;
1. We need to move into the area of gathering news content as well as commenting on what appears elsewhere;
2. We should act as a cross-club portal to get good fan site content from all clubs to a wider audience;
3. We need to highlight the positives in the game as well as the negatives;
4. We should become an actively campaigning body, aligning with fan groups to lobby for the changes we think important.
In order to achieve these objectives, more time will need to be spent on communication like podcasts, adding news content, expanding membership and building links with other fan groups. Time will also need to be spent setting up features, attending press conferences etc. Later in the year, one of the mods will have much more time on his hands to help achieve this.
Podcasts, premium content, labour, organisation and all of the above costs money, and ultimately a subscription based model backed by sponsorship seems to be our best way of achieving that. In order to give us a head start, we will in the next few months be putting together a business-plan and a pitch for Crowd Funding investment.
This is not to say that our existing model has been a failure. We have successfully managed to keep ourselves afloat through the ad-hoc generosity of people in our community, although the inability to keep the podcasts going has been a bit frustrating. Finding income streams which are more solid will allow us to respond to events more quickly (for example mounting an ad campaign to respond to some event or other, or buying new equipment), and hopefully achieve all of our objectives – and build a bigger audience base for our message.
Of course a move of this nature will require that, in the interests of transparency, anonymity of SFM will have to be set aside. That will not affect any of our contributors, and our practice of using (sometimes) imaginative names on the blog will remain. However, for crowd funding to be successful, we will require to have a board in place, and there is no hiding place from Companies House. The make up of the board is also crucial, and in addition to consideration of blog members for that role, we will be looking to have respected people from without.
I imagine there may be a consequent subtle effect on moderation policy to take into account.
The reason I have made this post is to keep the community up to speed with events. Although we have decided to move forward to see if we can get support for our business plan, that plan is by no means finished. As I said earlier, the “wisdom of crowds” has made our community unique and given it its credibility. There’s a lot more wisdom out there we hope to tap into before we go ahead with our initiative.
We already had someone in mind for chairman of the new board, but events have conspired tragically to rob us of that – and had the effect of postponing this announcement. However we would like to hear suggestions for suitable outside candidates for board and committee places.
We also want to hear from you if you have a suggestion to be added to our wish list of SFM function above – or even if you think it is a mistake to embark on this course.
This is a very big move for SFM, so we don’t want to rush into anything. We need to listen to what you folks have to say, because if the merging SFM is not considered a better SFM by our community there is very little point in looking to fund it.