With the World Cup in Russia right around the corner, you could be forgiven for thinking that the club season drew to a close weeks ago. However, for some countries in northern Europe and the Americas, the league has merely hit the pause button, while others are (not so) quietly wrapping up their play-offs.
Article updated: June 6, 2018. Main photo: Rubén Arévalo
Still, we can safely declare that the 2017/18 season has been another successful term for the growing number of member-run clubs across Europe and further afield. Congratulations to all; for showing that another football is possible: one where clubs combine on-pitch success with an unwavering commitment to their supporters and local communities.
It was a season of consolidation for SV Austria Salzburg who finished 7th in the Salzburger Liga with 41 points following relegation at the end of last season. The club formed in 2005 after the original SV (Austria) Salzburg was renamed and rebranded by an energy drink company, and they now face FC United Of Manchester in a friendly game in July – having played the Moston outfit in England last Spring.
Following promotion to the 2nd Provincial at the end of the previous season, a tough second half of the season saw YB SK Beveren, Belgium’s only 100% fan-owned football club, relegated in April. Preparations are already well underway for the new term though, with the club aiming to push once again for promotion and progress plans for their new ground.
Member-run BK Frem finished fourth in Group 1 of the Danish 2nd division last November, a standing that saw them participate in the promotion round in the new year – eventually finished 9th of 12 teams. Preparations for the new term have started in earnest, with a new manager, Lasse Holmgaard, appointed in late May.
Two wins and five draws from their final seven league fixtures saw AFC Wimbledon preserve their League One status. The Dons will look to build on a challenging campaign and an 18th-place finish by getting organised early for next season and pushing ahead with their plans to return home to Plough Lane in the coming years.
Wycombe Wanderers will, likewise, be back playing League One football after securing promotion with a third-place finish in League Two. Exeter City, sadly, were beaten in the League Two play-off final by Coventry City and have since parted company with manager of 12 years, Paul Tisdale. Chester City were relegated to National League North, having finished second from bottom of the National League.
Welsh outfits Newport County and Wrexham, meanwhile, finished 11th in League Two and 10th in the Vanarama National League respectively, while Erasmus+ partners FC United of Manchester will look to push on next term after finishing 16th in National League North – their women’s team completing a treble in their own right.
Runcorn Linnets FC finished as North West Counties Champions and will play in the Evo Stik League next season (8th Division), gaining promotion on the 12th anniversary of the club’s founding in the process.
North West Counties Champions 2017/18. 💛💚 #Together pic.twitter.com/62ZrYsoSif — Runcorn Linnets FC (@RuncornLinnets) May 7, 2018
Elsewhere, AFC Rushden and Diamonds have been promoted to the Evo Stik Southern League Central Division having finished 2nd in the Evo Stik South League East. Lewes FC, the first club to pay their men’s and women’s players equal wages, were promoted to Bostik League South Division (7th division).
The Class of 2018. We Are Going Up – with thanks to all x @Lewes_cfc pic.twitter.com/0P1pdxyBFi — James Boyes (@Gingeraction) April 28, 2018
For a complete round up of all the successes and results in England and Wales, you can read Supporters Direct’s annual review.
One of the biggest stories in the Bundesliga this season was undoubtedly the discussion around the 50+1 rule and clubs’ decision to retain and even strengthen its impact back in March. The club that put forward that motion, St. Pauli, fought off a late relegation threat to maintain their position in the Bundesliga second division.
Elsewhere, SD Europe Erasmus+ project partners Schalke 04 secured a return to the Champions League next season by finished second to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga top tier. S04 remain an e.V. and entirely in the hands of their members, and enjoyed a strong showing under new manager Domenico Tedesco – following a challenging campaign the previous season.
HFC Falke, meanwhile, finished 3rd in Bezirksliga Nord following promotion at the end of last season.
Einfach war es nicht, aber am Ende hat der Teamgeist im Verein dafür gesorgt, dass wir aufgestiegen sind! #wirsindeinverein #falkenfieber pic.twitter.com/PCg9MlwguX — HFC Falke e.V. (@hfc_falke) May 16, 2018
Fan-owned US Fasano has had an exciting three years, as they were promoted again for the third consecutive season in recent weeks. The club secured promotion to Serie D (4th division), winning the Campionato Eccelleza (6th division) to secure success for the third year in a row.
Centro Storico Lebowski were promoted to Campionato Promozione (7th level), while Cava United Football Club finished 8th in the Seconda Catagoria (9th Division), and will be looking to build further in the coming seasons.
Elsewhere, Ideale Bari were promoted to Prima Categoria (8th level) by winning their play-off against F. Acquaviva 4-0 in early May, and Brutium Cosenza finished midway in the table in Campionato Promozione (7th level).
Hapoel Katamon finished 5th in Ligat Leumit (2nd Division) and will be looking to fight for promotion to the Ligat Ha’al, the first division of Israeli football, in future seasons. After years of coming up through the divisions, combined with great community work, Katamon feel ready to be promoted. The club’s youths, along with those of Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa and Macabi Ironi Ashdod, also won their respective district youth leagues.
Bnei Yeechalal Rehovot celebrated off the pitch success by finally completing the long process of becoming a member-run club.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Robi Shapira Haifa finished 4th in Liga Alef North (3rd division), and lost in the Playoff to Maccabi Herzliya (3-0). Maccabi Jaffa, meanwhile, lost in the play-off final of the 3rd division play-offs. Maccabi Ironi Ashdod finished 2nd in Liga Bet South table, losing in the play-off final to Maccabi Kiryat Malakhi, and will look to push for automatic promotion next season.
Maccabi Ironi Ashdod and Hapoel Katamon also successfully started club teams for people with disabilities.
After qualifying for the play-offs, Hapoel Ramat Gan lost in game 5 of the semi finals of the play-offs.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which is run by the Hapoel Ussishkin Tel Aviv Fan Association, made impressive progress over the course of the season. The first team had its best season since returning to the first division in Israel with 19 victories, including six of them against the top teams in israel: Hapoel Jerusalem, Hapoel Holon, and in the derby against Maccabi Tel Aviv. They now face their close rivals in the semi-final of the league, the winners of the final being crowned champions…
The club’s youth sides too had record success both on the field, and within their social movement activities. The “Basketball for All” project, which brings together immigrant children from the Bialik Rogozin School and volunteers, expanded this year with about 60 children were integrated into Hapoel’s youth department. Yuval Adusi, the son of an immigrant worker from Ghana, became a citizen of Israel and even played for the Kadet team last summer. The club is also part of the “Hoops for Kids” project, in which the first-team players travel to the youth centres in south Tel Aviv and Jaffa to give basketball lessons once every two weeks.
In addition, the senior teams of the Hapoel Tel Aviv B.C youth academy had record-breaking seasons. The youth teams in the first and second divisions lost in their respective play-off finals, while the national youth team got promoted to the second division and Hapoel youth team “Hakat-Sal” won the championship for the second year in a row.
AKS ZLY’s women’s team finished in 3rd place in their league in early June and could gain promotion to the 3rd League (4th tier) as a result. The club’s men team were 5th in B klasa, the 8th league.
Motherwell were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the Scottish Cup final, aiming to be the first fan-owned club to win the competition in taking on their opponents from Glasgow.
St. Mirren, led by incoming Sunderland AFC manager Jack Ross, were also crowned champions of the Scottish Championship. The St. Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) has a minority share (29% stake) in the Paisley-based club.
The Buddies will celebrate a terrific season with our Player of the Year dinner tomorrow night at the @NormandyGlasgow. What’s been your favourite moment of the season? #FridayFeeling pic.twitter.com/xoTqHuilfh — St Mirren FC (@saintmirrenfc) May 4, 2018
The Fútbol Popular network in Spain continues to flourish and there were a number of notable successes during the season.
SD Europe Erasmus+ project partners CAP Ciudad de Murcia had an exciting April, announcing plans for a new stadium before their men’s and women’s teams secured promotion. Having suffered relegation at the end of last season, CAP CDM men’s team proved to be formidable opposition and return to the to the Tercera división (4th tier) as champions. The club’s women’s team, for their part, were crowned champions and promoted to the second division in mid April.
Atlético Club de Socios will play in the Preferente next season after being crowned champions and promoted. Their season has been captured in this beautiful video:
Precioso vídeo de nuestro club realizado durante el día del título y el ascenso a Preferente pic.twitter.com/jxChMFbJ56 — AtléticoClubdeSocios (@AtletideSocios) May 13, 2018
Xerez Deportivo FC will also play in the Tercera Division next season, having been confirmed as champions on May 6th. Preparations for the new season are already well underway with a new recruitment drive for members and partners.
¡¡SOMOS DE TERCERA!! ¡¡SOMOS CAMPEONES!! 🏆⚽💙#Ya3stamosAquí pic.twitter.com/c3DTwvhmiq — XEREZ DEPORTIVO FC (@XerezDFC) May 6, 2018
It’s been an incredible few years for U.D. Ourense, who claimed the Primera AutoNomica title and sealed their fourth consecutive promotion to the Tercera División with a 0-0 draw against Atios on Sunday, May 27th.
🎞 Vídeo | Bos días Campións!!! Vídeo cortesía @FrcoRoberto #OsNosos #YaHemosLlegado pic.twitter.com/DDKszlB1SJ — UD Ourense (@UDOurense2014) May 29, 2018
Finally, a 5-1 win over CD Becerril saw Unionistas de Salamanca crowned champions on their Tercera División on May 1. They face SD Tarazona in a second round play-off second leg in order to try and secure promotion to Segunda División B this Sunday (June 10), having narrowly missed out on making the same step up last summer.
¡Buenos días y arriba ese ánimo! Estamos a dos eliminatorias, con la vuelta en casa, de cumplir algo que hace poco parecía una utopía. Se va acercando el partido y nos vamos cargando de moral, y necesitamos que tú también lo hagas 💪.#FaseDeAscenso #ValePorUnSueño pic.twitter.com/v3APV2sEZj — Unionistas CF (@UnionistasCF) May 30, 2018
SD Tarazona will be familiar opponents of another Fútbol Popular club, SD Logroñés. Despite finishing the season with an incredible tally of over 100 points, the club from Logroño in northern Spain finished second in their Tercera Divisón group. It was enough to secure a play-off nonetheless, where they lost out to SD Tarazona 4-2 over two legs.
RESULTADOS Y CLASIFICACIÓN | 101 puntos. Qué pasada ¿no? Junto a @cdcalahorra (supercampeón y único invicto en ligas nacionales 👏👏👏), @CDNaXaRa y @HaroDeportivo intentaremos alcanzar los cuatro la Segunda B. 💪#SDLog #CaminoDelAscenso pic.twitter.com/D6jNH491GE — SD Logroñés (@SDLogrones) May 13, 2018
Avilés Stadium C.F. secured promotion to the Preferente next season by finishing their season in the Primera Regional Grupo II unbeaten and top of their standings. The club will also play at the Muro de Zaro Stadium next season following discussions with city officials in Avilés.
🏁 ¡Final! El Avilés Stadium vence y finaliza invicto el campeonato. 👏🏼👏🏼 🆚 Real Avilés B 0-2 Avilés Stadium#StadiumPreferente pic.twitter.com/TIOaOeZTrd — Avilés Stadium CF (@AvilesStadiumCF) May 6, 2018
Across the Atlantic, in South Florida, the football community had a day to celebrate for member-run clubs back in April. Two fan-owned clubs, Himmarshee FC and Gold Coast Inter FC, played each other in the Gold Coast Community Cup – with the Himms winning 3-1 on the day. In victory they took possession of the Sun Shield, a custom trophy built by HFC Member Zach Reese. Gold Coast Inter FC, for their part, are BASL play-off champions for the winter/spring season and are already preparing for next term.
Pics or it didn’t happen. HFC are your 2018 @coast_cup winners! Check out the gallery from the match:https://t.co/gOiBtOGSwh#UpTheRiver #GCCCup pic.twitter.com/T8muEnbCvP — Himmarshee Football Club (@HimmarsheeFC) April 22, 2018
San Francisco City FC, meanwhile, lost 3-1 to Sacramento Republic FC in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup in mid May, likely becoming the first fan-owned football club to take part in the competition.