Great fan experiences are commonplace in the world of sports, but unless you happen to work in a front office or you’re incredibly wealthy, the opportunity to get truly behind the scenes of a professional sports club are few and far between.
You only have to look at the recent purchases of several of Europe’s biggest clubs to know that soccer - or football, or fußball, whichever you prefer - is moving ever further away from its supporters.
Fan Owned Club is aiming to change that, giving each and every Fan Owner the chance to see and participate in the inner workings of a soccer club, by bringing the community membership model which, in some forms, is more common in Europe, and taking it over to the United States with a twist. We also offer Fan Owners the opportunity to put their passion, their skills and their interests into the club to help shape it as it grows.
Along with our current Fan Owners, we are already well underway on our journey to develop Austria’s FC Pinzgau Saalfelden (FCPS) into a truly global club, giving international players, coaches and executives an entry point into European football, and in the process, making Pinzgau a recognizable name across North America, Europe and beyond.
When people think of FC Pinzgau, we want them to think “FCPS, the Fan Owned Club!”
Of course, you can be one of those owners.
FC Pinzgau Saalfelden were formed in 2007 after the merging of the town's two top football clubs 1. Saalfeldner SK (founded in 1947) and ESV Saalfelden (founded in 1952) into one unified force. Rising up from the lower divisions, the Mountainous Pine Blues currently compete as one of 62 teams in Austria’s third tier, known as the Regionalliga.
The club play at the stunning Saalfelden Arena with the dramatic backdrop of the Alps making it one of the most beautiful venues for soccer in Europe.
One of the ten members of the competitive Salzburg Regional League ("Regionalliga Salzburg"), the league rewards the top two finishers with a place in an exciting six team play-off for promotion to the nationwide 2. Liga; a 16 team league, one tier below the Admiral Bundesliga.
With a mantra of introducing exciting young loanees, alongside a core of experienced local Austrian talent, Fan Owned Club’s involvement in FCPS has pushed the club into becoming a promotion favorite.
After two seasons curtailed by the pandemic, in 2021 FC Pinzgau Saalfelden is in a heated battle to vie for the league title, but vie for Cup glory in this Spring.
Austria is consistently performing above the expectations of the average soccer fan, with the Bundesliga here constantly ranked in and around the top 10 of UEFA’s 55 federations. From the twelve team Bundesliga, six teams will get some kind of chance to qualify for European competition the following season, whether in the UEFA Champions League, Europa League or the brand new Europa Conference League.
Whilst aiming for Europe might be a lofty and long-term goal, the success of small but well-run clubs like Wolfsberger AC and LASK (who have faced off against the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and AS Roma in recent seasons) is a testament to the quality and strength of the sport in Austria’s top league and a great example of what can be achieved on a very modest budget compared to many other top flight European leagues.
Whilst the success of Red Bull Salzburg in Europe is acting as a fantastic draw for Austrian football, and attracting considerable international interest, they are of course in a rather different budget ballpark than their Austrian league rivals, making the successes of the other teams even more inspirational.
Legendary German footballer Christian Ziege signed a multi-year deal to manage the team, after joining as the interim coach in Spring 2019. A former player with Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Liverpool and Tottenham, Ziege was a UEFA Euro ‘96 winner, a FIFA World Cup runner-up in 2002 and has 72 caps for the German national team.
Christian's involvement has helped make Pinzgau a destination for young players to develop their game, including Pablo Ruiz, who recently signed a multi-year MLS contract after spending the fall season with FCPS in 2019. This season FCPS had a duo on loan from Seattle Sounders, players with Junior USMNT experience under their belts.
In June of 2019, Fan Owned Club began jointly managing FCPS before finalizing the purchase of the LLC (GmbH) that operates FC Pinzgau Saalfelden and makes all Club-related decisions in December 2019.
Similar to club ownership in Germany, the Austrian Federation requires a non-profit entity (Verein) to hold the actual license to compete. The Verein is controlled by six members, all of whom hold significant ownership within Fan Owned Club.